Site speed has become more and more important for website owners and/or webmasters and/or SEO professionals. Site speed is a big concern to both of your site’s human visitors and search engines (especially Google).
- Human visitors to your website: For example, these days people would rarely have any patience to wait for more than 20 seconds for your website or one of your web pages to load. They will simply close the browser, leave and go to another site where they believe they would find what they want.
- Search engines: In recent years Google has been emphasizing the importance of site speed and/or page load time and in 2010 Google has even confirmed speed is one of the factors for search engine ranking of web pages.
Factors to Site Speed
The major factors that can affect a website’s speed include:
- Server locations
- Content delivery network
- The size of each of your web pages
Of course there are many more other factors that would have affected your website’s speed. This Yahoo Developers guide provides a thorough list of site speed performance optimization.
Speed of Your Landing Pages
If you run a website that allows users to buy products (e.g. E-commerce website), your site would have many different landing pages. A landing page is an entrance for visitors to your site and the first page in which your visitors normally see when they arrive at your website.
- A landing page can be a page that displays a single product with all the specific product information, price, etc.
- A landing page can also be a list of products (or a search list of products) that all belong to a single product category.
For human visitors, the questions are:
- Can your most important landing pages load fast enough before visitors give up?
- Can your most important landing pages load fast enough from the locations (e.g. the major cities you’re selling your products to) where your most valuable customers are from?
For search engines, let’s say you’re running a site that has 1 million web pages and over half of those are landing pages in which you want them to appear in Google’s organic search results.
- Before your web pages show up in Google’s search engine results pages, Google uses bots (or spiders) to crawl your web pages and put your web pages into the Index. A Google bot is only allowed to spend limited time on each website they come across.
- If your site loads slower than most of the other websites in the world wide web and if many of your web pages load much slower than half of the web pages in the world wide web, it would be difficult for Google’s bot to crawl most of the pages that you want to get indexed by Google.
So the questions are:
- Has Google indexed all the pages that you want them to index?
- Did Google bot have sufficient time to even reach / crawl all the pages that you want it to crawl?
That’s why the loading speed of your landing pages is important.
Metrics to Site Speed
In recent years, Google Analytics has started to provide site speed and/or page load time metrics as reports. The metrics from Google Analytics include:
- Page load time
- Redirection time
- Domain lookup time
- Server connection time
- Server response time
- Page download time
Google has even put up tools for anyone to evaluate performance of web pages and/or site speed and get suggestions on how to make improvements.
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