As the web prepares for the mobile-first index, there’s been a lot of emphasis on page speed. But how does Google page speed affect search engine indexing?
Formula 1 cars are some of the fastest accelerating automobiles on Earth. They’re known to be some of the highest performing vehicles of our time. With acceleration speeds from 0-60 in as little as 1.6 seconds, every car needs to be fine-tuned to ensure it’s performing at its highest level.
This can also be said of a website when it comes to its search ranking. However, a page’s speed does not have the same effect on its search engine indexing.
A webpage will have a better chance of showing up higher in search results if it has faster load times. But it minimally changes the way search engines index the site’s information.
Google recently completed a page speed update, which states that starting in July 2018 “page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches.” The main key to understanding this update is to know the difference between a Google ranking and Google’s search engine indexing.
Read on to learn more.
Search Engine Ranking vs. Search Engine Indexing
A website ranking is defined by where it lands on a search engine’s results. The more relevant a website, the higher it will rank in a Google search.
There are multiple ways to improve your site’s ranking. These include inserting metadata, utilizing link building, and using alt tags. After this new Google update, having fast mobile load speeds will now also improve your ranking.
While the speed of a page is important, the content is still vitally important as well. Even if a site is slow, as long as it’s publishing up-to-date and relevant content, it may still rank highly.
So, it is crucial to focus on numerous performance aspects when designing a website.
Unlike a search engine ranking, page load speeds have little to no effect on their search engine indexing. Google utilizes site crawlers which take note of key signals found on websites and tracks them in their search index. Those key signals include everything from the content to the keywords.
The Google Search index has reviewed hundreds of billions of web pages, adding up to more than 100 million gigabytes of information. It is similar to looking up a topic in the index of a textbook.
For example, if someone did a Google search for creative color combinations for a logo, the information Google indexed would appear as the seemingly never-ending pages of results.
Slower Indexing Rate and Visitor Experience Issues
Although the load speed of a page doesn’t prevent it from being indexed in Google Search results, it can cause a substantial delay in the time frame of its indexing process.
If a page is sluggish to load, it can reduce the crawlers used on the site. This, in turn, slows the process of compiling the information to be transferred to Google’s servers. This slower crawl rate can have a major impact on larger sites being found on search engines as they are updated.
Along with this slower search engine indexing, slow load speeds can negatively impact the visitors to your site. It can cause a loss of web traffic due to a higher bounce rate. This is the number of people who leave the site without looking at multiple pages.
Even though these loads speeds don’t have a significant impact on the search engine indexing, it is still a good idea to keep up other mobile sites with quicker load times.
How to Improve Your Site Speed
It’s no secret that people love a fast website. Increasing load speed times will be imperative to keeping viewers’ attention and preventing single page visits.
Luckily, there are some simple ways to ramp up your page speed.
Simplify Your Page Design
When a page has numerous images from other sites, Flash uploads, and other scripts, it can severely slow down its load times. Although content is important, you will find less is more when it comes to your website.
If you minimize the number of elements on each page and reduce the number of scripts, it can quickly improve your site speed. You can also use CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and combine multiple stylesheets to increase reliability.
Optimize Site Images
Large, improperly formatted images and GIFs can dramatically slow down your site.
Pay attention to the size of your page and crop your images to the proper pixel sizes before uploading them. This will lighten the load of the page making it easier for Google to do its search engine indexing.
Choosing the correct image format can help save space as well. JPEG files are typically the best choice instead of PNG formatted files. If you want to have GIFs on your page, they should be no more than small 10×10 pixel graphics.
Limit Unnecessary Plugins
Blog plugins can be immensely helpful to the growth and functionality of your site.
But they can also slow it down, cause the occasional security problem, and can even crash your site if there are too many. Take a close look at any being used on your site to ensure they are needed.
Testing the speed of your site after installing each plugin will give you a good idea of how big of an impact it has. By limiting any unnecessary plugins, you can prevent negative effects on your site speed as well.
Final Thoughts on Optimizing Your Site
Even though a webpage’s speed has minimal impact on its search engine indexing, it is still important to optimize as many aspects of your site as possible for ranking purposes.
Like those Formula 1 cars, the more tuned up they are, the higher performance they’ll be able to achieve.
If you want more details on how to improve your site speed, SEO, or other webmaster utilities, be sure to check out our SEO blog.