What’s Your Page Load Time?

Page load time is one of the many factors that determine where in the SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages) Google places your site. What is your average page load time? If you don’t know, then the chances are you are losing customers and revenue without even realizing it. By speeding up your site you will lower your “bounce rate” and increase conversions.

You may have heard that here at Google we’re obsessed with speed, in our products and on the web. As part of that effort, today we’re including a new signal in our search ranking algorithms: site speed.GOOGLE WEBMASTER CENTRAL BLOG

Page load times are such an important metric that Google webmaster tools records and graphs page load times and gives you a reasonable indication of average load times over a period of about a year. If you want to make sure your site’s SEO is in tip-top condition then you need to look at ways to make your blog or site as fast as possible.

Even if we disregard the importance of page load time to Google, it is obviously of critical importance that your site loads as quickly as possible anyway. Visitors to your blog or site will be far more inclined to make purchases or convert in some other way if they are able to get the information they want without having to hang around.

Most people these days simply do not have the patience to wait for slow loading sites… they’ll simply go to a competitor for what they need. You’re left wondering why your site’s bounce rate is so high. A slow loading page can undo all the good work you put into your content, marketing, SEO and community. What’s even worse is that, most likely, no one will bother report it to you – they’ll simply leave.

There are a wide array of techniques that developers, programmers and webmasters use in order to speed up their webpages. Some of these can be quite technical. For example, many of the big sites use “sprites” to speed up page load times. A sprite is an amalgamated image of all the little icons used on a page – this means the server only needs to upload one image instead making repeated requests for each and every icon. You can then use CSS to display only the part you want.

Sprites, unfortunately, take a bit of image manipulation know-how as well as some good CSS skills (or at the very least a pretty hefty CSS rewrite, for most sites), so they are not something that the average business person or blogger will undertake themselves. You also only derive real advantage from these if you are using a lot of small images.