QuickByte: How Much Does Site Speed Really Affect SEO?
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Woman: Welcome to the “QuickByte Podcast,” your 5-minute digital dose of tech news and tips and tricks for digital first marketing. QuickByte is brought to you by Lance Montana, a digital marketing agency based in Brisbane, Australia.
Grace: Hello, and welcome to QuickByte with Lance Montana. Today, I’m here with Laurence talking about how much site speed really affects SEO. So, what are your thoughts?
Laurence: I don’t think it affects it at all.
Laurence: Site speed, not important. Of course, it’s super, super important. I mean, we’ve all been there in terms of, waiting for a web page to load and just being like, “Nope, too slow. I’m going somewhere else.” And Google, you know, they’re kind of onto it, if you haven’t noticed, and they recognize what’s important in the marketplace. And they have ascribed a whole lot of value to site speed in search engine rankings. In my personal experience, when going through, having a look at, kind of, what factors make the most difference in the work that we can do for our clients in giving them a larger share of organic traffic through search engine ranking results, site speed, is the number one factor to improve and get immediate results.
Grace: Number one, okay.
Laurence: It’s huge. It’s huge. And there’s over 200 ranking factors that determine what kind of search engine results you’re gonna get for your website, for a certain search query. But I would go out on a limb, way out there and say that site speed is not only number one, but that it is way bigger in terms of its weighting than any of the other ranking factors.
Grace: Okay, so you’re going to get bang for your buck with that one?
Laurence: Yeah, big time. And not only are you going to get the biggest search engine ranking results, you’re also going to get a whole lot more conversion because people are actually gonna be on your side, right?
Grace: Well, then yeah. It makes sense.
Laurence: It’s pretty important. Yeah.
Grace: Okay. And so what can a business do to improve their site speed really quickly?
Laurence: Okay, so you want to make sure you’ve got a decent server and hosting platform. The way to do that is to pay enough for it, you know. As a really quick rule of thumb, if you’re paying a ridiculously small amount for your website hosting like $2 or $3 dollars per month, you probably have a bad website host.
Grace: A red flag?
Laurence: Yeah, definitely a red flag. Yeah, beyond that, you know, obviously there’s value propositions out there for website hosting, but the fastest possible server you can get is going to be something that’s dedicated, otherwise, you can get virtual private servers but, you know, specific needs are going to be determined by the size of your site, the complexity of it, the platforms that you’re using, and how much traffic you get to it. This is probably a QuickByte session in of itself, so essentially just make sure you’ve got a good server response time. That’s the very first thing. Beyond that, I’d say the next easy, kind of, item that you can check off is to look at your image sizes. You’ve done a bit of image auditing, haven’t you Grace?
Grace: I have, definitely. Yeah, it can be a time consuming task, but a very, very effective way of improving your site speed. It almost has immediate results.
Laurence: It certainly does yeah, absolutely. So we’re talking about the file weight size of images that are on a website, not the physical size of how big they are in height by width, although there is a relationship between the two, of course.
So, Grace, like, tell me, how do you first of all find out what images on a website might be too big?
Grace: Yeah. So, there’s a couple of really great tools you can check your site speed and also what’s, sort of, causing it to lag a little bit. Pingdom is a great one.
Laurence: Yeah, for sure. There’s a tool within the Pingdom website that does site speed – super, super popular. I think it’s tools.pingdom.com/sitespeed or something like that. We’re gonna have to put the exact URL in the show notes for you.
Grace: Yes. Yeah. No, that one will tell you which images are being a bit problematic, which ones you need to go in and resize. General rule of thumb is to definitely keep your images below a megabyte, but as low as you can possibly get them without compromising the image quality, the better.
Laurence: For sure. So, yeah. So we should have backed ourselves, Grace. It definitely is tools.pingdom.com. I just brought it up. And you whack in your URL. You obviously choose the closest city in the drop down test rom, as possible. We’re in Australia, so Melbourne’s your only option there, and then start test. And what you get is what’s called a waterfall result which shows all of the resources on the website, how long they each took to load, and the, kind of, a gaunt chart set up in terms of, you know, which resources needed to load first in order for other resources to load. So it’s a really quick and detailed look at exactly how long every element on the website is taking to load for you. You can see where all the trouble spots are.
Grace: Yeah, and I just want to give a quick shout out to Bulk Resize Photos. That’s my go-to website for when I’m doing a big lot of image resizing. You can just chuck everything into a folder and resize to 50%, 60%, 70% to make sure you get all of those images nice and small.
Laurence: Yeah, and this is something that everybody out there can use themselves. Whether you’re a professional in the industry, or, you know, you don’t want to have to pay somebody to do this for you, you can just jump in there and do it. A lot of people would be using bulk image editing software in the Adobe Suite like Lightroom, or Photoshop to bulk resize images. And they’re great, but you know, you’re gonna be paying 70 bucks a month or, you know, in that kind of region for those tools.
Grace: Yeah, so that one’s at bulkresizephotos.com. Anything else that’s important to know about site speed?
Laurence: For sure. Look, you can jump on to Google and put a Google search query in site speed test. And Google will give you a testing platform that you can dump your URL into of your website, or any page within your website. And they’re going to give you a heap of recommendations as well, which are pretty similar to Pingdom. You can also run these kind of tests through GTmetrix, which has the added advantage over Pingdom of showing you fully loaded site speed results, whereas Pingdom gives you an indication of when your site has started to load. So yeah, GTmetrix is great as well. And I think it actually draws data from that Google page loads speeding test as well. The other thing that Google does is gives you the ability to test mobile apps as well.
Grace: Okay, that’s helpful. And what sort of fully loaded time is, sort of, in the right ballpark for a website?
Laurence: Look, you wanna get under three seconds, but the faster the better.
Grace: Yeah, can’t waste any time.
Laurence: Absolutely. Thanks, everyone. That’s QuickByte, with Lance Montana.
Woman: Thank you for listening to the “QuickByte Podcast.” This has been a production of Lance Montana, a digital marketing agency based in Brisbane, Australia. For more great free resources, visit lancemonta.com.au.
Topics covered in this podcast:
- Why site speed is the most important ranking factor
- What a business can do to improve their site speed quickly
- Why a decent server and hosting platform matters
- The importance of image resizing and how to do it easily
- How to test your site speed
- What site speed you should aim for