Is your Website Speed Killing your SEO Efforts?
Your webpage looks great. You’ve optimized your keywords and you consistently update your content; so why isn’t your website ranking higher in search results? The trouble could be with your website performance. That’s right, Google and other search engines might be penalizing your site for how quickly pages load. Google’s thought process is easy to understand: a website that performs poorly results in a poor user experience, and sites with poor user experiences deserve less promotion in search results.
As we’ve discussed in previous blog posts, website performance is critical to a good customer experience. If your site is too slow, you risk losing customers who grow frustrated with the time it takes to make purchases or navigate from page to page on your site. Even worse, potential customers may never even reach your site at all if it appears too far down in the page rankings.
Measuring Web Performance with Time to First Byte (TTFB)
The problem is, page load time is a pretty general term, and there are a lot of factors that go into it. One of the most critical is Time to First Byte (TTFB), which is the length of time it takes your browser to receive the first byte of a response from a web server when a particular website URL is requested. The metric includes a few key factors, including the:
- Network latency of sending the request to the web server;
- Time it takes for the web server to process the request and generate a response;
- Time it takes to send the first byte of that response back from the server to the browser.
So what can companies do to maximize TTFB performance? Much of TTFB lies in “back end” performance, including web servers and their own network connections, and content delivery networks (CDNs). Generally speaking, the best answer to maximizing TTFB performance is to use a CDN, which was designed to minimize physical distances between the site’s content and browsers. CDNs cache from memory by providing low-cost access to a large pool of resources, which most website owners couldn’t utilize otherwise. The cached web content is served from proxy while the database complies in the background and serves the rest of the materials.
The Impact of Page Speed Performance on SEO Rankings
Google’s algorithm has about 200 different ranking factors, so site owners shouldn’t overestimate the impact of page speed performance on SEO rankings. Quality and relevance continues to be king, but doing everything you can to speed up your website for your users can only help their experience. And mobile sites should also take note: Google is now looking into site speed as a metric to incorporate into its search rankings. Our free website speed test tool can get you started in determining how quickly your site is responding, and give specific areas where improvement may be needed. (Good news: our free test can even test your site’s speed on mobile browsers!)