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Relationship Between Website Speed and Google Search Engine Ranking

     
1:04 pm on Jul 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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How much does website speed play into Google search engine rankings? The reason I ask is that I am focusing on increasing the speed of my websites and have noticed that some competitors are still ranking higher on Google even though my pages are significantlyfaster and the content is comparable. Additionally, my site is older. I am still testing certain pages.

Just wondering, from your experiences, how much does speed play a factor in Google SERP rankings.
4:18 pm on July 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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IMHO site speed is really overrated as a Google ranking factor. Google looks at it but most sites have good enough speed and should focus more energy towards links & content to boost their rankings. Don't misunderstand me - speed is important to providing a good user experience but its not the most efficient way to boost rankings for most sites (links & content tend to be much more influential to rankings) - of course the internet is massive so there are exceptions.

I also think that site speed is a good way to filter out bad webmasters. Good site speed tends to require a bit of technical knowledge. If a webmaster can't resolve speed issues than they probably will also struggle with other ranking issues that rely on technical knowledge like schema, proper internal linking, security to avoid malware/link hacks, etc.
4:42 pm on July 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Well slow sites annoy me. On some sites things keep jumping around as the page loads. If you start trying to read something, it jumps away from you and you have to find it again.

P.S.
A few times I've even accidentally clicked an ad because things jumped around just as I tried to click to go to an article.
6:52 pm on July 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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There are two speed related matters.
1. Google
(because G has told us at length for quite a while now that speed matters, especially for mobile).
In reality, parsing all the comments/posts from Google staff, I have come to the conclusion that speed has two impacts:
---it is one of a few metrics that can have a tie breaking effect should there be otherwise comparably weighted sites.
---given that the current average site takes ~22 seconds (it used to be under 20 but there is feature and render creep YoY) to load I believe it reasonable to presume that anything under 10 seconds is relativity 'safe'.
Note: probably varied by vertical and type (eg:gallery vs text articles)
Note: check data on average render times for vertical (and if possible refined by country), i.e. travel in US, 10sec; UK, 11 sec; Japan, 8-sec. I think it reasonable to presume that being less than niche/locale average to be relatively 'safe'.
Note: to be extra safe test render time with older mobile on 3G.

2. Visitors
(because few to none like waiting plus extra time means extra bandwidth costs).
Just about every study done over the past several years has concluded that by 3-seconds roughly half of visitors will have bailed.
Note: a few studies have found that the optimum click to render time for max conversions is 1.5 seconds.

As is often the case, when one optimises for visitors one gets Google benefits at no extra cost/effort.
8:29 pm on July 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I agree with goodroi. While it is a ranking factor I don't think it makes a huge difference unless a site is extremely slow.

Page speed is not only how long it takes the server to create a page but also how long it takes the visitor to receive the request. This can be affected by bandwidth limitations like someone on a 3G network (as iamlost suggested) an how far away they are.

I test my pages using Google Page Speed Test and as long as my pages are in the green I don't worry to much about it

[developers.google.com...]
10:09 pm on July 14, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Well slow sites annoy me.
I can't count the number of times I have done a search, selected a result from near the top of the SERP ... and then waited and waited for the page to load up. Sometimes I give up and just close the tab. Iím not talking about the whole page and those grossly oversized images that are so popular; I mean waiting many seconds before anything at all--even a background color or page title--appears. To me this suggests that page speed isn't being given enough weight. It may also suggest that site owners place too much confidence in search ranking. Just because you're near the top, doesn't mean anyone will actually see your page.
1:23 am on July 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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It may also suggest that site owners place too much confidence in search ranking. Just because you're near the top, doesn't mean anyone will actually see your page.

Absolutely.

It is a relict of antiquated SEO tools and far too many are tool driven rather than tool drivers. Ever since personalised search results (Google beta 2004, Google account searchers 2005, all Google searchers 2009) a decade ago rankings are at best a guess about averages. It is as artificial and actionable as Moz's Domain Authority. Not at all, if you aren't sure.
Note: given that for more competitive searches the top one to four results are ads alone makes ranking for 'number one', on it's face, ridiculous.

The only real two bottom line Google (any SE) metrics that matter are (1) the quantity of human traffic referred (yes, a lot of SE traffic is bots) and (2) it's conversion rate. Add in change over time in both you have a far better handle on your efforts than any ranking tool.

And, time from click to render is the greatest initial bottleneck to conversion, which is why I made a point of differentiating speed between Google (or any SE) and visitors. Google cares far far far less than visitors. Except that is the hook upon which they sold AMP, one service to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

Conversion rate is the one metric that almost no Google focussed webdev pays attention to, instead it's all about the traffic volume. On reasonably optimised sites it is the third party networks, including AdSense, that are the last to render. On many of those blank white screens javascript is delaying rendering until after the ad networks content arrives, a deliberate decision to lose a large percentage of visitors rather than have them see content without ads present. A similar logic to those who reject visitors using ad blockers.
1:35 am on July 15, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Today's web is capable of delivering renders of PAGES with over 200,000 WORDS and a few (reasonably sized) images in 2 seconds or less ... I do it all the time. HOWEVER, I am not pursuing g SEO, nor am I running third party ads, so there's no wait for others to render ...

YMMV
2:40 pm on July 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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nor am I running third party ads, so there's no wait for others to render ...

I do use third party ads, but I invoke them only once my page is finished loading and rendering :)

By the way, about the speed at which a page downloads and renders , something often neglected is how it can exhaust your "crawl budget". Google and other search engines allocate a "craw budget" to each site (based on their own internal criteria) , a crawl budget is often sum up as the number of pages a search engine robot will visit in a given length of time, this is too simplistic, a crawl budget is the amount of "resources" (bandwidth,cpu,memory,time) a search engine's robot is ready to consume for a given site for a given length of time. So the number of pages visited is one thing, but the time it takes to download and render these pages is another thing. Crawlers will not waste tens of seconds to download and render a page, when other pages will be completed in 1 or 2 seconds. Also, it's possible that Crawlers stop the downloading and rendering of a page, after a given time (time out), and so what is not downloaded or rendered is not indexed, resulting in partially indexed content.
3:34 pm on July 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I don't doubt speed is a ranking factor... but it's almost insignificant for rankings.
That said if you're taking the time to ask...you might well ensure you're optimized. It can't hurt, and your visitors will appreciate.
3:42 pm on July 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I wouldn't focus on website speed; it will NOT increase your rankings. It's like driving on a highway - as long as your car is capable of driving the minimum speed limit, it's good enough.
8:26 pm on July 25, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I agree with most of what has been said. If you site is relatively fast to load (under 10 seconds), you won't be penalized, but when two comparable sites are fighting over a position, site speed could be the determining factor.

That being said, site speed is paramount to conversion rate, so you should focus on it for user experience, and gain the SEO benefits secondarily.
9:50 pm on July 25, 2019 (gmt 0)

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relatively fast to load (under 10 seconds)
Is that ten seconds for the last straggling bits of third-party ads and nonessential scripts ... or ten seconds before you see any content whatsoever?

One rough-and-ready indicator is the difference between the timestamp on an analytics request--assuming your code is at the bottom of the page where it belongs--and the timestamp on the page request that started the visit.
10:56 am on July 26, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@CoffeeOrDeathPlease 10 seconds as a max is too long IMO for last paint. It all depends on the speed of the internet and the device that is rendering it but I would personally at least half that (but then again I don't run adsense or a similar ad network and just serve my own ads).
2:52 pm on July 26, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@JesterMagic Apologies, I meant fully loaded time. Last paint ideally would be half that.

Personally, I've put a ton of time and resources into getting both of those numbers down to as close to 0 as possible. Some may even call it obsessive, but I'm unwilling to lose any conversions due to site speed issues. If a potential customer doesn't even see my landing pages because they bailed after 3 seconds of nothing, I'm losing out on a ton of valuable data.

Also, as others have mentioned, crawl budget is a lot more complicated than just page quantities, it's likely server resources, so keeping your pages fast and lean is going to help you get your pages indexed faster. If you have a large site with thousands/millions of pages, this could speed up indexing by weeks, months, or hell even years in extreme situations if you're an enterprise level site with tens of millions of pages.
2:02 am on July 27, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@CoffeeOrDeathPlease ...

WELCOME TO WEBMASTERWORLD, where nit-picking and commentary are par for the course. :)

I suspect the "10 seconds" actually meant UNDER 10 sec, and have experienced (for clients who want to play third party ad servicing) numbers approaching that.

ON THE OTHER HAND, there are areas globally where "broadband" is not routine and one can experience transfer speeds as low as 57000 baud (old time dialup on steroids). These days I think 256k is the bottom average with 1-6mb baseline, and the vast majority are running 12-25mb and up.

TEN SECONDS IS TOO LONG no matter what base speed is used. You've lost your visitor at 2.5-3 SECONDS. Zip, nada, goodbye, hasta la vista, adios, I'm Outta Here, sayonara, Auf Wiedersehen ... and whatever else might be said as the user hits the back button and moves on.

As for the Query the OP asked ...

Speed and G is one of at least 200+ metrics ... and in these "high speed" days as the web grows up and more infrastructure is emplaced, becomes less of an issue.

I'd be more concerned (tin foil hat stuff) that g might DING you for having their product(s) (Adword, Adsense) and Affiliate, and Other Third Party Ad Serving (as in all those js ajax cut and paste things) on your site. But that is "crazy stuff", so ignore that. :)

Seriously, if your page takes 10 seconds to load, you will have little or no traffic that CONVERTS.

And if there is a third party slowing your site to those speeds then get rid of them and try something else!

There's speed, slow speed---and then there's molasses in winter... The last one is the kiss of goodbye visitor!