How site speed influences SEO

Users expect websites to be fast. As the world becomes increasingly mobile, and as consumers expect services to be on-demand and seamlessly delivered, having a poor site speed can seriously impact your SEO.

Google understands that the time it takes for a page to load is a key part of the overall user experience. Waiting for content to appear, being unable to interact with a page, and even noticing delays creates friction.

That friction costs not only time, but also money. Research from as far back as 2016 showed that 53% of mobile website visitors will leave if a webpage doesn’t load within three seconds. And those kinds of bad experiences can leave a lasting negative impression of a brand.

In fact, research shows that the level of stress from waiting for slow mobile results can be more stressful than watching a horror movie.

So it’s no surprise that Google has been measuring the speed of your site, and using that in their ranking algorithms, since 2010. More recently, in 2018, the speed of your site on/for mobile devices became a much more important signal, too. They understand that a good user experience is a fast user experience.

Frustration hurts your users, and hurts your rankings

And it’s not just Google – research from every corner of the web, on all aspects of consumer behavior, shows that speed has a huge impact on outcomes.

  • 47% of people expect a site to load in less than 2 seconds (wired.com)
  • 20% of users abandon their cart if the transaction process is too slow (radware.com)
  • Amazon found every 100ms of latency cost them 1% in sales
  • The BBC found they lost an additional 10% of users for every additional second their site took to load

These costs and this type of site abandonment happen because users don’t like to be frustrated. Poor experiences mean that they go elsewhere, visit other websites, and convert with competitors.

Those behaviors are easily tracked by Google (through bounces back to search engine results pages, short visits, and other signals), and are a strong signal that the page shouldn’t be ranking where it was.

Google wants a faster web

Speed isn’t only good for users – it’s good for Google, too. Slow websites are often slow because they’re inefficient. They may load too many large files, haven’t optimized their media, or don’t make use of modern technologies to serve their pages.

That means that Google has to consume more bandwidth, allocate more resources, and spend more money.

Across the whole web, every millisecond they can save, and every byte they don’t have to process, adds up quickly. And quite often, simple changes to configuration, processes or code can make websites much faster, with no drawbacks.

That may be one reason why Google is so heavily invested in the AMP Project, and why they’re so vocal in their education on performance.

A faster web is better for users, and reduces Google’s operating costs significantly. Either way, that means that they’re going to continue rewarding fast(er) sites.

Getting started

Unsurprisingly, some of the best resources on optimizing your website are from Google themselves.

We recommend that you explore their Web Fundamentals documentation to get an understanding of the techniques, tools, and approaches to building faster websites.

There are also a variety of tools available for measuring and monitoring the speed of your site. Here are a few which we recommend trying out:

  • Lighthouse, for Google Chrome – one of the most sophisticated performance measurement tools available, and great for benchmarking.
  • WebPageTest – provides a waterfall diagram of how all of the assets load on your website. Great for spotting slow resources and bottlenecks.
  • Our posts – we have a bunch of great blog posts which explore tools, techniques, and terminology!

Any questions? Let us know in the comments!

Read more: Improving site speed: Tools and suggestions »

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26 Responses to How site speed influences SEO

  1. Edan Mizrahi
    Edan Mizrahi  • 2 weeks ago

    It’s so true. Especially with ecommerce sites. People are not willing to stick around if a site is really slow. It helps the user experience in general. Great post.

  2. Private Detective
    Private Detective  • 3 weeks ago

    I have lots of issues to take the speed of my websites. but I’m not understanding how to resolve them? Because most of the problems come from javascript of CSS coding.
    Could you please explain, How to optimize javascript coding solutions or improvisation.

  3. tashu
    tashu  • 3 weeks ago

    thank you sir for this information. it really hepled alot to me as a developer..

  4. designpoint
    designpoint  • 3 weeks ago

    Must say we notice a great difference with load speed improving SEO rankings in Google. We tend to always analyse client’s website speed before we commence any of our optimisation strategies. It’s always good to check with your web hosting provider as well when it comes to server host speeds.

  5. Mark Stephen
    Mark Stephen  • 3 weeks ago

    Hie Thank you so much for sharing this information. I am also using Yoast Seo for my website but sometimes it shows error in page loading because of high response time so please can you help me to fix this issue. Because of this problem, I am unable to submit my website in google search console, again and again, show same error.

    • Jono Alderson

      I’d definitely look at the links I shared, and identify ways to speed things up. You might also have site/code/javascript/hosting issues, which result in tools like Search Console not being able to validate your site. I’d have a frank conversation with your hosting support and/or developers – that sounds like something’s gone horribly wrong!

  6. Private Detective
    Private Detective  • 3 weeks ago

    Website speed is work great to rank in google. but what if my web hosting server is down or domain extension is not TLD?

    • Jono Alderson

      I’m not sure what you mean by not having a TLD, but, your web hosting should never be down! I’d recommend investing in some better hosting!

  7. venkatesh kumar
    venkatesh kumar  • 3 weeks ago

    Hey Jono,
    It’s really helpful. Now, I understand the importance of website speed and optimising the site for good speed. Google loves faster loading blog. Now, time to focus more on website speed and choosing the right hosting for it. Thanks for sharing this helpful post.

  8. Private Detective
    Private Detective  • 3 weeks ago

    Really speed is a prime factor of good ranking. but how yoast analyse and resolve this issue?

  9. Sarthak
    Sarthak  • 4 weeks ago

    Hey, thanks for this valuable information.
    As, recently google pagespeed insight started using lighthouse for speed test and, result obtained is not Best. Means speed score is not good, as it was with pre pagespeed tool..

    How, can we manage the speed by resolving the issue provided by lighthouse…As, I’m not a developer so, I’m unable to score 100 on new updated tool. Please, help me to gain this…

    • Jono Alderson

      I’d start with the links I shared to Google’s “Web Fundamentals” documentation. That explains a lot of the more technical thinking in relatively accessible terms. Then, you can go through the recommendations in Lighthouse / WebPageTest / GTMetrix etc, and tackle them one-by-one!

  10. Victor Pellet Mill
    Victor Pellet Mill  • 4 weeks ago

    google analytics test my website first time load time is above 400ms, i am not sure if it is ok because i already do almost optimization,not knowing what to do else

  11. Money plant research
    Money plant research  • 4 weeks ago

    Thank you so much for providing the great list

  12. Keith
    Keith  • 4 weeks ago

    Load speed is certainly one of the TOP on-page seo factors and should be regularly looked at. Landing page speed is also a factor with AdWords so faster pages = more clicks and cheaper bids!

    From experience large images are the number one failing, so to share some tools we use:

    1. SSH – https://pngquant.org/
    2. SSH – https://github.com/tjko/jpegoptim
    3. GUI – https://tinypng.com/
    4. GUI – https://compressjpeg.com/

    • Jono Alderson

      Ah, speed definitely does impact paid search, too! Both directly as part of most quality score metrics, but also for the same reason that it impacts SEO – users prefer (and are more likely to engage/convert on) fast pages!

  13. Shriram
    Shriram  • 4 weeks ago

    Very Good article.. Thank you for the Valuable information. Yes i do agree, what you are said is correct, Getting subscribers engaged on topic for a longer period is not easy. Mainly if the website is loading slow surely people will leave in seconds. i have experienced it in my website as well. I am thinking to implement AMP(Accelerated Mobile Pages) so that pages loads fast in mobile devices and i can retain customers in my website..

    • Jono Alderson

      AMP can definitely provide some immediate speed gains! However, it’ll come with some tradeoffs on what your theme can do/support (AMP is intentionally very limited in terms of functionality), so you might want to also see if you can improve some of the underlying issues!

  14. Xavier Bradley
    Xavier Bradley  • 4 weeks ago

    I think one of the facts that many web design agencies fail to understand is that there is a large audience viewing a website on mobile. If it takes 10 seconds for a page to load then you just lost a customer. But many people are adamant on using horrible hosting. Thank you for this informative article I will be sending clients this as part of my onboarding package.

    • Jono Alderson

      Hey Xavier, I agree! Everything needs to be super-speedy on mobile in particular, and when you’ve not got a great hosting setup that can really slow things down…

  15. varshneyh6
    varshneyh6  • 4 weeks ago

    Thanks Mr. Jono Alderson,
    For giving the more information about the seo.

  16. fourseason
    fourseason  • 4 weeks ago

    After reading this post I now can speed up my website. Thanks for upload!

  17. Visaginietis
    Visaginietis  • 4 weeks ago

    Hi, I wanted to post this message in the topic of the Yoast bug related to attachments urls, but there is no option to post for now. So I wish to write down my worries here. I had a good news website for a local town which was growing up very rapidly, but after you released the update I didn’t admit it from the beginning and after some time google started to ban my news pages and kicking me off from the top pages. Despite the fact I fixed the bug a month after, it is continuing to not love me. Please help me sort it out! the website: visaginietis.lt

    • Iris Guelen
      Iris Guelen  • 3 weeks ago

      Hi Visaginietis, nobody likes to see their pages to drop like that. When I try to visit your site, I only see a pulsating blue bullet point. I see no content, just a white page. I’m thinking Google sees the same thing and doesn’t like that.

      When I check for JavaScript errors, I see 2 of them. I’d fix those and make sure your site can be viewed properly by your visitors. Good luck!

    • Kimi Runner
      Kimi Runner  • 4 weeks ago

      Are you using any grey or blackhat SEO tricks? If you did remove it and wait for Google update. Also check everything in your Google Search Console to fix errors, bug …

      Google doesn’t love or hate anyone. Just follow their guideline you will go to the top!

      • Visaginietis
        Visaginietis  • 3 weeks ago

        I didn’t use blackhat seo for this domain. Position and keyword drop started from the Yoast upgrade with the junk pages jump.


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