Does page loading speed influence SEO?

Written by:
Date Posted:
12 September 2019

Providing the best user experience

Brighton SEO
We are lucky to have the biggest search marketing conference in the world, Brighton SEO, on our doorstep twice a year. With Brighton SEO being held this week, we’ve put together a blog about site speeds and page loading speeds and how it can affect SEO.

There are technical blogs about the topic, but they focus on UX and the ways to optimise your website, rather than the infrastructure that the website runs on.    

Fast site = better landing page experience
Site speed and page loading speeds are often an overlooked area of SEO, but Google has been measuring speed since 2010 in its search result ranking algorithm. 

You could have a website with the best content in your industry, but if your site is slow, you won’t appear in the higher positions on Google. Page speed is a measurement of how fast the content on your page loads, which can be affected by many factors including image sizes, browser caching and the UX itself. Faster loading websites give users a better landing page experience, so tend to have higher conversion rates and lower bounce rates.

UX
As new websites are developed, designers and developers consider layout, intuitiveness, ease of use etc. However, creating a great looking website will be futile and limited in search if the site speed isn’t optimised.

There are endless practical site speed tips when it comes to UX that do enhance the user’s experience and page loading speeds. Examples can be compressing CSS and Javascript files, reducing image sizes, monitoring plugin performance, improving the accessibility of the page etc. You can also analyse and optimise your website using Google’s PageSpeed tools, which aims to make web pages fast on all devices. 

Loading times
It’s no surprise that people hate slow loading websites. After becoming frustrated and waiting for a page to load for more than a few seconds, most users will choose a competitor’s site or lose trust in the brand. The average page load time should be 3 seconds, but a majority of websites in the UK are still missing the mark. 

The strength of the user’s wi-fi connection or use of mobile data does have to be taken into consideration. Most websites will have their website optimised for mobile devices, especially as a large proportion of web users access the internet on mobile devices. Some sites can even be tailored for 3G and 4G connections, so that a video may load on a page that is being accessed using 4G, but only a static image for 3G.

Testing speeds
There are several online tools that you can use to test site speed, such as Pingdom. To get a true average though, site speed needs to be tested across all of the main browsers and on mobile and desktop devices. With mobile devices, sites need to be tested on older devices and not just the newer models too, to ensure high performance in every instance.

One method that some website developers use to improve page loading speed for users is to make any above the fold content load before any other content on the page so that the user believes that they are viewing the fully-loaded page. This is known as ‘perceived speed’ and does make page loading speeds seem faster on the surface, though is not a true representation of the rest of the page or website. 

High-performance hosting
Now that websites have more features than ever before, some sites may struggle to achieve a high level of performance across a variety of browsers and devices. UX plays a major part in improving site performance, but what about the speed of the actual infrastructure that the website runs on?

Using a reliable hosting provider is integral to achieving fast site and page loading speeds for your website. The more traffic that hits your site, the more bandwidth and resources you are going to use.

With low cost shared hosting, you share the server and resources with many other people, which can affect site performance. If there is a large increase in the traffic load to your website or anyone else on the same server, the pressure on the server increases and the website will either slow down or crash. With private cloud hosting you get dedicated resources (such as memory, processing power, storage space) and bandwidth, rather than sharing it with other customers. 

Hyve’s cloud platform
Performance is a top priority for Hyve’s cloud hosting platform, and our VMware and HPE BladeSystem infrastructure provides the highest level of reliability, performance and scalability.

We guarantee 100% network availability and peer with fourteen bandwidth providers to ensure that our network is always available. We invest heavily in the best cloud hardware, equipped with powerful resources that make cloud server outages virtually impossible.

Hyve’s cloud platforms outperform other platforms thanks to the speed of our hardware. Our clients need super-fast website performance, so we use fibre channel and SSD disk technology to provide this. SSD drives make your website load faster than it would from old fashioned hard disks.

The cloud also uses HP3PAR to dynamically move ‘hot blocks’ between disk tiers. This means that your virtual machine has automatic access to the SSD drive tiers when they are required. Our support team monitor I/O activity at block level to ensure that applications are shared between the different storage levels, providing the industry’s fastest storage without paying the premium. 

Choosing a managed hosting provider is also beneficial, as the technical support team will be able to optimise your applications and manage performance bottlenecks to ensure that the site is running to capacity. The technical team will also be able to advise when resources are overused and can scale up your platform based on demand.

Location, location, location
When it comes to the location of your servers, it helps to be hosting your website as close to the customers that you are serving as possible. If your website is aimed at UK customers, choose a hosting provider that has data centres in the UK. Otherwise, there can be a lag or delay in content loading on your site due to the high latency network connection.

Latency refers to the amount of time that it takes for a packet of data to get from one point to another. There is latency between the time it takes a host server to receive and process a request, for instance loading a website page. All websites want to have as low latency as possible in order to have very small delays with the network connection. 

Companies that are serving customers around the world either need to use multiple data centres in strategic locations or a Content Delivery Network (CDN) in order to get the best performance possible. 

Content delivery
CDNs are a useful option for websites that need to reach customers in multiple locations without affecting page loading speeds.

A CDN is a network of servers that is used to distribute the load of delivering content. Essentially, copies of your site are stored at multiple, geographically diverse data centres so that users have faster and more reliable access to your site wherever they are viewing it from. 

It can deliver static and multimedia content and improves user experience and reduces the load on servers. Files are ‘cached’ and loaded from the closest server to the user, which results in faster load speeds.

A combined effort
With a combination of changes to the UX for site performance and a high performance hosting provider, your business will provide users with the best user experience possible. Including these measures into your SEO practice will be hugely beneficial for maintaining the higher positions in SERPs.

If your business could benefit from hosting with a high performance provider, get in touch with our sales team today on 0800 612 2524 or sales@hyve.com .

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