Website Loading Times and Their Effect on Search Rankings
Search engine optimization is a constantly evolving game in which millions of gurus and analysts search for ways to try to stay one step ahead of Google and other search engines’ algorithms in order to promote their pages to the top of select rankings. Even the slightest advantage here and there can add up to great benefit over other competitors, so it comes as no surprise that thousands of data sets have been analysed to determine which strategies may yield even an iota of benefit for select websites. One of these areas pertains to the effect that website speeds and data have on search engine rankings. In the following article, we will discuss these concepts and how each variable can impact your overall ranking.
Overall Loading Times
How exactly can loading speed affect the search rankings of a particular website? Various elements were analysed from thousands of different websites to see if faster loading times resulted in higher or lower search rankings. There are two main ways in which you can measure loading times: one is by the total amount of time it takes to adequately navigate and interact with the website, and the other is the amount of time it takes for all data, images, widgets and other elements to completely load. The results of these surveys show that there is no clear correlation between the rate at which a site loads and its overall ranking in search results. If you are pinging your blog or website to search engines, then you do not have to worry about a slower loading time directly impacting your traffic sources.
Data Initiation Times
Commonly known as Time to First Byte, this method of measurement outlines how long it takes before a website begins transferring data to the browser. This differs from the measurement of how long it takes for a website to load in full and rather is a barometer of how long it takes the website to begin responding. In the same set of websites used in the prior surveys, the correlation is less ambiguous. Websites with lower Times to First Byte were much more likely to find themselves at the top of select search rankings – The average Time to First Byte for the average #1 result was more than 30% shorter than for the sites five pages or more down in search results.
Does the data size of a page have any direct correlation to search engine rankings? One would think that if any correlation existed, it would be one where smaller pages were favoured by Google and other major search engines. With so much talk of efficiency when it comes to reducing unnecessary elements from websites, you may have been pinging your blog without larger images in the hopes that it would help your search rankings. The reality is that page size has a reverse correlation when compared to the above scenario – the larger the page in terms of byte, the higher it tends to place in search results. While the difference between the #1 and #100 averages was only about 8% in size, a clear trend was observed that gives deference to larger pages.