Since 2010, Google has incorporated site speed as one of its hundreds of search ranking factors. When Google made the change, less than 1% of websites were affected by the new factor, either positively or negatively.
So while this factor may not be incredibly important to search rankings, site load speed is important for user experience. Web users have become increasingly sensitive of load speeds over time. In 2013, Radware discovered that slow site speed caused a 50% conversion decrease, up from 40% in 2010.
So how important is site speed to SEO?
To answer that question, you have to look at your goals and needs. If you have a well-optimized site and you are ranking well, increasing site speed will benefit user experience. If you are ranking well, but have a large site that requires multiple click-throughs, then a slow site may kill conversions as users are not patient enough to get through your site.
Sometimes a slow site speed can be solved with a relatively easy fix. A couple things you should check when your site speed is slow:
– Images: Needlessly large images that can be compressed without loss of quality can hinder a site’s loading speed.
– Limit your share buttons and embedded videos. Filling up your site with share and like buttons is good marketing-wise, but it can slow down your site speed. Similarly, embedding videos can slow down your site.
– Messy code: Badly-coded sites can have slow load speeds. Also, additional coding for contact forms and plugins can limit site speeds.
It is important to look over your options when you are trying to speed up your site. Perhaps those extra social buttons are not worth keeping if they aren’t being used. The sacrifice can be worth it if your site speed is being boosted. Again, you have to keep your own goals and needs in consideration when you’re trying to increase your load speed.