Pizza! My three-year-old daughter loves it — which is why the delivery guy knows exactly where our house is. But… if it takes too long to arrive, she’ll quickly move on to something else more readily accessible. Speed clearly plays an important role in her user experience — much as it does for the digital user experience.

Why Page Speed Matters

Given my e-commerce and conversion background, I have always been obsessed with the usability aspect of digital. I see user experience as Job #1. After all, what’s the point of achieving top search rankings if you don’t provide a great user experience?

Page Speed is a critical component in the digital user experience, and it is hugely important in our content-driven world. There’s a reason why Google Analytics now includes statistics like Page Load Time, Lookup, and Page Size.

first

But you might be thinking, “Does Page Speed really matter? Can it make that big of a difference? Do I really need to make it a priority?” My answer is Yes! Yes! And Yes! In fact, Page Speed matters more today than ever before. Below are a few reasons why.

User Experience: How often do you abandon a page when it takes too long to load? Chances are that your customers and prospects are doing the same thing. People expect a fast user experience online, and when they don’t get it, they often bail. That’s because the way we consume media has changed dramatically. Most of it is consumed on the go, in the car, and in line at Starbucks. In other words, no one has the time or patience to wait for a slow page to load.

In addition, emerging markets are massively dominated by mobile content consumption while being supported by slower cellular connections — making a fast loading mobile experience more important than ever. Given this climate, it is crucial to improve your Page Speed. Doing so will help your users better engage with your content, and you’ll get more value and conversions from your audience.

AdWords Quality Score: A lot of marketers are not aware of this, but Page Speed can actually impact your Quality Score. Sure, people are more likely to convert on a faster loading page, but there’s more to it than that. Google considers Page Speed to be a key component of the landing page experience. It’s another important variable they consider when assessing landing pages. And of course, the better a page performs, the better your Quality Score will be.

On top of that, keep in mind that Quality Score drives your CPC. That means Page Speed can help lower your advertising costs. So in essence, Better Page Speed = Better Quality Score = More Efficient Spend = More Reach.

Organic Rankings: Page Speed is an important ranking factor. In fact, it’s part of Google’s ranking algorithm for both desktop and mobile. Given that, having a better-optimized page will help deliver better rankings. While fast load times won’t necessarily equate to a #1 ranking, they can give your site an advantage.

For example, if two sites have equal authority and relevance, Page Speed may be the deciding factor that pushes one site ahead of the other in the organic rankings. Again, Page Speed is not a huge ranking factor, but it is an important one.

Get Your Page Speed Score Now

So, how does Google measure speed of your website? They use a metric called Page Speed score. It has a range between 0 – 100 points. The better a site performs, the higher the score it receives; Google considers a site to be performing well if it has a score of 85 or above. The beauty of the Page Speed score (in contrast to other Google scoring systems such as PageRank, Quality Score, etc.)  is that it is fully transparent.

The score is provided by Google’s tool, Page Speed Insights. It analyzes page performance for mobile and desktop sites and provides valuable information on a variety of metrics. (Note that the Mobile Page Speed analysis has been totally revamped. I encourage you to read this article about it on Google.)

For instance, Page Speed Insights can tell you how long it takes from the moment a user requests a new page to the moment the above-the-fold content shows up. It can also pinpoint how long a user has to wait for a page to fully appear in a browser.

To get your Page Speed scores now, go here and enter your URL.

The Information You Need To Improve Your Page Speed

Google’s Page Speed tool delivers more than scores and insights. When you run a Page Speed test, Google tells you exactly what you need to change to improve your score and performance. You don’t get general advice or vague hints. You get a report with line-by-line instructions on what to do. Given the specifics provided, there really is no excuse not to improve your Page Speed score.

Let’s take a look at an example. Entering NASA’s URL [http://www.nasa.gov] into the Page Speed Insights tool reveals that its mobile site has a score of 53, and its Desktop site scores 29. Given the 0-100 scale for Page Speed score, these sites clearly have room for improvement.

first scores

In addition, the analysis shows the four priority areas that the NASA sites need to focus on for improvements: Enable compression; Minify JavaScript; Leverage browser caching, and Eliminate external render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content.

nacs_pre_compress learn more

Note, though, that if you click on “learn more” in each area of the report, you’ll get even more granular advice on how to improve Page Speed performance (as shown below).

naa_compres

But wait… there’s more! If you are using the Firefox extension, you will get even more help. The Firefox version allows you to download modified media. For example, if Page Speed Insights recommends that you compress images, it will actually provide you with optimized images to download.

Summary

Marketers are making a big investment in content, but what’s the point if it takes too long to load? Users will just move on to something else that’s more readily accessible. Clearly, speed is critical to providing a good user experience in digital today. Fortunately, the many benefits of improved Page Speed make it very easy to justify the cost of the changes. Take the time to analyze your Page Speed scores now. Then come back in a month and show/tweet me your new and improved numbers!

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Analytics | Analytics & Marketing Column | Channel: Analytics | Google: SEO

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About The Author: is Director of SEO Operations for Catalyst, a leading search engine marketing firm that delivers digital marketing solutions for Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 organizations. Spiegel defines the organic search process at Catalyst, creates and enhances the agency’s SEO offerings, and oversees teams of SEO practitioners who deliver strategic counsel and tactical input for SEO initiatives.



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  • http://blog.paulnshapiro.com/ Paul Shapiro

    Great post Ben! In terms of SEO, a post earlier in the month on Moz (http://moz.com/blog/how-website-speed-actually-impacts-search-ranking) seems to have shown that specifically time-to-first-byte (TTFB) matters the most when it comes to page speed and rankings, and that there is no correlation between “document complete” nor “fully rendered” and ranking on Google.

    However when it comes to user experience, the effects of reducing page load time is enormous. I seem to recall a crazy statistic where Amazon saw something like 1% increase in revenue for load speed shortened by a mere 100 milliseconds. That’s a lot of $$ for a big site.

  • http://www.trendslide.com Jeffrey Vocell

    Another helpful resource from Google for determining granular page-speed information (for both web and mobile) is WebPage Test Tool (http://www.webpagetest.org). WebPageTest will give users not only specific time information, but also go a step further and build it into a waterfall view of how long each asset takes to load. For example, here is a waterfall view of the MarketingLand.com homepage, which took 6.3 seconds to load (according to this tool): http://www.webpagetest.org/result/130829_6F_J33/1/details/. Here we can see that some external sources such as Disqus, Facebook, and others are slowing down the loading time of the homepage.

    I’ve written a blog post, which I think may be helpful for readers specifically looking at mobile page speed. It covers some of the most common performance challenges, and how to address them. If you want to check it out, here is a link: http://www.sitespect.com/blog/jeffrey-vocell/5-mobile-site-performance-challenges-and-how-to-fix-them.

  • Andrew Faulkner

    Great write up. I took some time out to take some speed testing tools for a spin a while back and came up with a list of my favourites. Hopefully a useful resource:

    http://netnibbl.es/testing-your-sites-speed/

    Whether it is SEO or usability or both, and first byte or total bytes, it can only be a good thing to improve page speed.

  • http://www.mediawebcenter.com/ Osle

    I used gtmetrix, I can see google page speed and Yslow of yahoo, it’s better information for check the webs, it’s very important now for google to be fast, mobile and tablets needs speed in performance

  • http://www.elijahclark.com/seo-orlando-company.html Darryl M

    Was searching for a reference to give to a client and then bam! Great post and snagged a FFextension too. Thanks! It also provided leverage to bring forward for the developer.

 

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