By now, you’ve heard of the importance of SEO for business owners. Get a high page rank, and your business can be easily found on search engines sites, especially the mammoth, Google. But have you heard the new ways Google is deciding these search engine rankings? It’s not all about link-building.
Recently, Google has decided to integrate page speed and quality scores of pay-per-click landing pages in their search engine rankings. What does this mean for business owners? How fast your website downloads now impacts your page rank online. Although it is just one factor among over two hundred different algorithms running to determine a ranking, your website developers need to be perfectionists in site implementation to combat your increasing competition online.
Why is Google doing this? Well, for one, Google is pushing site developers to adopt better general web standards, including faster site speeds, to allow Google site crawlers to crawl websites more quickly, which reduces operating costs. This is Google’s way of adapting to what web users like: faster websites.
Google will measure the speed of a page in 2 ways:
- How a page responds to Googlebot
- Load time as measured by the Google toolbar
Google’s own Webmaster Central Blog recommends that websites start optimizing their page speed because it will ultimately impact their page rank (http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2010/04/using-site-speed-in-web-search-ranking.html). You can check out your own site’s page speed performance by using a tool, like YSlow or FIREApps, to evaluate what’s helping – and hurting – your performance. An example, highlighting the good (green), the bad (yellow), and the ugly (red), can be seen below.
What does this mean for business sites?
Small business owners can breathe easy. Smaller companies have a better chance at improving their page speed. They can control their site and web environment easier because it’s smaller and independent. Large company websites are hosted in complicated environments and are, therefore, harder to control.
A small business has fewer site pages. They’re more likely to catch errors or see potential problems because they are able to review the site more frequently and quickly.
If you’re stressed over your company’s site, follow this quick guideline from SEOmoz on page speeds to see if your site needs help:
- If a site loads in 5 seconds, it is faster than approximately 25% of the web
- If a site loads in 2.9 seconds, it is faster than approximately 50% of the web
- If a site loads in 1.7 seconds, it is faster than approximately 75% of the web
- If a site loads in 0.8 seconds, it is faster than approximately 94% of the web
Besides page rank, what are other benefits of having a faster page speed?
The speed of a page affects numerous measurable usability factors, including:
• Ad revenues
• Aesthetic perception
• Bailout and bounce rates
• Conversion rates
• Perceived site credibility
• Quality ratings
• Queries per user
Companies must understand how download delays impact user psychology. Page speed directly affects user experience and customer satisfaction rates. Faster site times please customers and increase the chances of them making a second visit. Every business owner knows that when the customer satisfaction level is high, conversion rates and revenues increase.
So, how can companies enhance page speed?
HTML and CSS: Minimize HTML file size and complexity to maximize page display speed. Remove all unnecessary code from HTML and CSS. Don’t be fancy when styling a CSS file. Master CSS shorthand, and get rid of all comments and spacing.
Bandwidth Services: First of all, a company will save up to 60% off bandwidth bills with simple HTTP compression. Use third-party bandwidth delivery companies to host large-sized files. Businesses like Akamai or Amazon offer good bandwidth services.
File Sizes: Optimize Flash and PDF files and reduce graphic and multimedia drag. The file size of videos and pictures has a definite impact on site speed. Make sure all media files are optimized to the web.
The cost of enhancing page speed varies based on how much optimization is needed. Be aware that this task requires the work of a senior web developer and SEO consultant, as well as network support. Basically, the cost boils down to how much time is allocated to mastering these page-speed tactics.
It should come as no surprise to business owners that the internet world is trending toward faster downloads. You need to embrace this trend as early as possible in your business model. Faster page speeds will produce more page views and a higher page ranking, not to mention a decrease in viewer frustration. All these things will benefit your company and customer satisfaction. Let’s face it; there are countless reasons why it’s time for websites to take a page out of Google’s book and adapt faster site speeds. Don’t be the last one to jump on board, or you’ll have a lot of catching up to do.
Hassan Bawab is the founder and CEO of Magic Logix, an interactive digital marketing correlation that combines dynamic website development, professional website design, SEO and integrated online marketing to drive new leads with high conversion.