Particularly in the last few years, search engines like the almighty Google have become more intelligent by the day, which has led to a huge shift in the way we implement SEO, and the signals these search engines look for to rank websites. Slow websites – i.e. websites with pages that are slow to load – can have a really negative affect on your SEO efforts, so here, we’ll explore why a slow website can hamper SEO, and give you some tips on what you can do about it.
Often, when people think of SEO, they think of the content on each page; the titles, text, image titles, and ensuring each page is optimised for a specific keyword or phrase.
Whilst these are all super important elements to consider when optimising your website, there is also lots of technical SEO work that needs to be considered, but is all too often overlooked due to its slightly more complicated nature – or the perception that it’s more complicated!
However, if you don’t carry out some fundamental technical SEO work, your other SEO efforts may all be for nothing.
So, this is why a slow website can hamper SEO; a slow website will:
Increase your bounce rate: ideally, a website will load in a couple of seconds. Anything more than this – and particularly anything over 10 seconds – will lead to today’s impatient and information hungry internet users leaving your site as quickly as possible and moving over to one of your competitors. This action is known as ‘bouncing’, and a high bounce rate (i.e. lots of users bouncing off your site without digesting any of its information) is a big red flag to search engines that your website isn’t giving those all-important users what they want.
Make for a low average time on pages: if the majority of your users are bouncing off your site as soon as they hit it, your average time on each page will dramatically decline, which will only serve has another signal to search engines like Google that users aren’t receiving the information they need from your website. And where search engines are all about providing valuable experiences (and information) to their users, your consequent rankings are sure to fall.
Have a negative impact on indexation: in order to rank on search engine page results (SERPs), search engine crawlers (bots that search engines use to understand and rank websites) need to be able to read your website. If your website is particularly slow to load or won’t load at all, like any human user, crawlers will be unable to view your content and therefore pick up on a keywords and phrases you’re using. This will have a negative impact on indexation.
Luckily, speeding up a site is a relatively easy fix, and there are a number of different things you can do to ensure your website load speed is as fast as it can be. These are:
Optimise your images: heavy images will only serve to bulk out your site and make it slow. When uploading new imagery, be sure to optimise it (compress it) before putting it into your website. But don’t worry, compressing an image before using it won’t harm the quality, it will just make it a little easier for your website to carry.
Invest in good hosting: Hosting is like the engine by which your website is run, and cheap hosting is one of the biggest reasons why websites struggle to load. Investing in great hosting will ensure your website’s uptime is high, downtime is low, and average load speed is fast.
Avoid plugins where possible: particularly when you have little to no knowledge of how to build a website, using a plugin to perform basic, and sometimes slightly more complex, tasks can be a really quick and easy way of getting your website to do whatever it is you want it to do without investing in an experienced developer or trying to figure out the code yourself. Yes, plugins are uber convenient, but use too many and they will start slowing your site down; they can even stop it working all together if a plugin gets buggy or stops being supported. To speed up your site, get rid of plugins and develop solutions.
In short, a slow website can have a really negative impact on any SEO efforts you invest in, so always ensure your website is fast to load before engaging in SEO work.
And if you’re still not sure why your website is slow or how to make it faster, contact us today to find out how we can help.
Get in touch now - it could be the start of something special.