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Webpage Load Speed: an often neglected key to high rankings

Discussion in 'White Hat SEO' started by davidzh, Jan 15, 2010.

  1. davidzh

    davidzh Newbie

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    When we think of SEO, we usually go to onsite factors like navigation and offsite factors like inbound links. However, it is important to note that load speed can have a significant effect on SERPs and traffic.



    Why do higher load speeds lead to higher rankings?

    - Users are more likely to remain on your site if it loads quickly (if it takes more than 10 seconds to load on the browser, they'll just leave, and given the disparity in internet speed connections, that represents a large portion of your bounce rate).

    - If a user leaves before clicking anything on your site, that raises your bounce rate, which could potentially lower your rankings. This is more of a gray area, however, and involves issues such as are you using analytics and are your users using the google toolbar. A larger bounce rate does definitely mean lower conversions and CTR, however.

    - If a user leaves and clicks another result in Google, then follows through with that result, your site will rank lower while your competitors site will rank higher. This is not a gray area.



    How do you make your website load faster?

    - Replace php calls with static html whenever possible. Especially when using platforms like wordpress, replace php bloginfo('name') with your blog name and url with your url, since you're likely not going ot change those.

    - Remove extraneous rel links in headers. Again, very prevalent in wordpress.

    - Combine javascripts into one file

    - Combine images that you use a lot with CSS Sprites

    - Set far-future expiration times for images that you use across your site to make sure that the user caches them on their own computer. This makes the site load faster when they visit the next page etc., and is not done in most themes.

    - When using an image in the form of a bar, reduce it into a very small width (1px is good enough) and repeat it using the css repeat x command. This saves a lot of download time.

    - When having images in posts and individual pages, try to use something like Flickr or some other Content Delivery Network to lessen the load on your own server and make sure your load time is optimized for different geographical regions

    - Get a faster server if needed

    - Use analysis tools to determine what else needs to be done



    Here are 2 tools I especially like:

    Code:
    http://tools.pingdom.com/fpt/
    This tool I use to see which segment of my page is slowest to load - and if I can significantly improve load time my structuring my site differently or not. It analyzes on a server basis.

    Code:
    http://www.websiteoptimization.com/services/analyze/
    This analyzes the site on a code basis, and checks how fast your code would load. It provides a different perspective and more detailed warnings than the one from Pingdom, though its predicted download times is not always accurate since it ignores server-side limitations.



    Have fun optimizing~! Remember - Google got to where it is today in a large part because of its load speed.
     
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    Last edited: Jan 15, 2010
  2. mariobaez

    mariobaez Newbie

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    Thank you! I remember always using the first site, then I lost it for about a few months. It always helped me get kbs for some external objects on my sites ( the website optimize analyzer sometimes didn't pick up some external object sizes ).

    For one thing, Hulu embeds in the analyzer were about 15kb but in the ping website hit around 200-300kb. Both sites are lifesavers!
     
  3. semar

    semar Junior Member

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    nice gejet i used it thanks for that one
     
  4. Blackhat_Boy

    Blackhat_Boy Newbie

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    site load speed is among the 200 factors governing SEO
     
  5. johntan09

    johntan09 BANNED BANNED

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    tks for the information..learn something.. :)
     
  6. MarketerMac

    MarketerMac Regular Member

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    So my website focusing on dial up users is going to loose it's value in the serps?

    Page load time is a two way street. It seems silly that google would penalize my site because more of my visitors have a slower connection.

    Your theories on bounce rate do seem valid, but I don't believe theres any evidence to suggest this is taking place other then 'it would make sense to do it'.

    If bounce rate and load times truly matter, wouldn't all of the sites that are set as homepages be devalued? Think how many bounces MSN must get because it's the default for IE. Does that mean it's not a good resource? Hell no. I'm sure there are other examples I haven't thought of...

    High bounce rates doesn't equal low quality. In fact if my website links to useful resources you could even equate my high bounce rate to high quality because people are leaving to use those resources. Think sites like hotscripts.com, or any other major directory.
     
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  7. davidzh

    davidzh Newbie

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    Well, like I said, whether bounce rate directly affect rankings is a gray area. I've heard good arguments on both sides, and the points you raise are certainly valid. I would think, though, if you're competing with other dial up user targeted websites the effects would cancel out, and if you're really in the niche you should be focusing quite a bit on load time anyways.
    Just to play devil's advocate, I can also argue that portal sites like msn.com are rare and they have so much linking power the bounce rate won't matter, while they might for smaller websites. Again, there's arguments on both sides.

    But what is definitely true is that if a person visits your site through Google, bounces back, and clicks another result and doesn't bounce back in that result, your rank will go lower while your competitor's rank will go higher. This is a part of the social ranking initiative Google has been doing for a while, and provide great incentive to build a quality site with fast loading times.