This is not a new topic for 2020. Infact having a fast website is something which is a decade old topic – still there are websites that are extremely slow. Somewhere people are not yet educated that they need fast websites to improve their business.
Google has been advocating this since 2010 when they started to include website speed within their algorithm.
“there have been studies by Akamai who found that two seconds is actually the threshold for e-commerce site acceptability. Meaning that that’s what users like to shop with. At Google, we aim for under a half second.”Maile Ohye, Google, 2010
Fast forward to 2020 – this is still very much true. A good part of the internet is still hosting slow websites. Let’s talk about data. I am sharing you with a report of a eCommerce client.
When seen 62% of the users are using mobile devices to surf. When mobile devices have already overtaken desktop devices, it is extremely important that your website is fast. In fact, Google likes blistering fast sites so much it is preparing to move many sites to what it is calling a ‘mobile-first‘ index in 2020.
“Speed is definitely a ranking factor? YES.”John Mueller, Google 2019
The video above – Google confirms the site speed is a ranking signal. If you don’t speed up your website, Google will start ranking your competitors.
People like fast sites in 2020
Very slow sites are a bad user experience – and Google is all about good UX these days.
How fast should websites load?
Well, there isn’t a specific threshold, as such. Most of the websites out there recommend 5s as a threshold. We have found it needs to be 3s – this is the ideal speed. When we dig deeper into all those websites who are claiming it to be 5s to 10s, most of them are affiliates of poor quality hosting. On a poor quality hosting 5s is a herculean task – ergo, promote 5s.
When we look at how UberSuggest is doing an SEO Audit, they say having 5s – is good. So, what is required to be ranked is below 3s. This website that we tested here was Geek Crunch Reviews which is hosted with TDWS CloudSites.
When we actually archive Google official statements, they have been talking about having a high speed website mobile first since 2016.
Now that Google is pushing very hard for faster websites, it is time for those invested in online websites – time to take action today! This is something no one can ignore anymore.
But when we still interact with clients and website owners, one of the common things we find is that website speed is not making it to the top of their list. So, when their online business doesn’t kick off or their ranking is not working – they blame the business model or the SEO. Let me rephrase it for you. When it comes to website speed going for cheap hosting is not saving you money, it is being “penny wise, pound foolish” . Having a slow website can be detrimental to your business. It not just your website design what also matters is the underlying technology that your hosting provider gives. Minimum technology required for any website to perform:
- HTTP/2 (less than 30% of Hosting providers are on HTTP/2)
- 1 GBPS Port Speed (Only 20% of Hosting providers are geared up to give you speed over 100MBPS)
- PHP 7.4 with FPM (Most of the Hosting providers will just provide you with PHP – hopefully not an outdated version with FPM. FPM give you 20x performance on your PHP)
- SSD Drives – Hosting providers who are giving “Unlimited” hosting will never give you SSD Drives others will mask their services like Hybrid Storage – which basically translates that your data is on SATA and OS & Web Services on SSD – in simple terms you are still on SATA drives.
“How fast your website loads is critical but often a completely ignored element in any online business and that includes search marketing and search engine optimisation. And that includes page load times on mobile devices: The average time it takes to fully load a mobile landing page is 22 seconds, according to a new analysis. Yet 53% of visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than three seconds to load. That’s a big problem.”Dainial An, Google, 2017
In short, Google wants you to focus on your visitors and give them a better experience when they visit your website. This will rank your website. Most marketing companies will only focus on Google trying to rank them backlinks etc. Rather focus on people! Having a fast website is a net-positive for everyone.
Every Second Counts
We live in a world today where mobile devices are even touching 100MBPS. Which means everyone is looking for faster response time. This means your website needs to be as fast as possible to load. Once you are below 3s every second optimization is a task.
If a slow mobile experience drives customers away, a fast mobile experience can help attract and keep them.
I see businesses underinvest in the kind of fast mobile web experience that can unlock revenue and brand loyalty. It’s not that businesses don’t understand that a fast mobile experience matters, but it’s easy to treat it as a one-and-done goal to accomplish. The reality is that no matter how fast your site is today, if it’s not an ongoing priority, over time that speed will degrade.
‘Website Speed’ a Google Ranking Factor in 2020?
When we see how Google ranks websites now, it can be derived that slow website can be a negative signal or negative ranking factor.
When we have spoken to clients from likes of HostGator or BlueHost (EIG Brands), having their website load more than 10s clearly contributes to negative ranking. This is also backed by a statement by Google way back in 2015.
“We do say we have a small factor in there for pages that are really slow to load where we take that into account.”John Mueller, Google, 2015
This statement can be interpreted in two ways. First when a Google bot is crawling your website and it is slow, the frequency of crawls will reduce. This can be seen via reports in Google Webmaster console.
“We’re seeing an extremely high response-time for requests made to your site (at times, over 2 seconds to fetch a single URL). This has resulted in us severely limiting the number of URLs we’ll crawl from your site.”John Mueller, Google, 2015
When I have been working with people on slower hosting, their crawling rate will reduce which reduces the ranking ability and indexing your website properly. Jon in the quote above specifically said that 2 seconds disrupts CRAWLING activity, not RANKING ability. This was Google in 2015, without crawling the ranking will not improve. Until 2015, they were not giving negative rank signals for slow websites. Which has changed now.
Another point to read into this statement is from the fact Google is giving a very high priority to speed and thus user experience. Which is why they will penalise sites for being slow. In 2020 not having a fast site will not improve your ranking but you will lose your ranking too.
Outdoor clothing company Dakine was using large images and slideshows on its German mobile site to show the active, outdoorsy lifestyle its customers love. But when a mobile site speed audit showed that slow-loading pages were affecting the quality of its customer experience, Dakine moved quickly.
Through a combination of browser caching, image optimization, and prioritizing content on the visible part of its mobile pages, Dakine cut the load time of its start page by 55%, of category pages by 48%, and of product pages by 65%. The impact on performance? Over the next year, Dakine saw mobile traffic increase by 31%, mobile revenue by 45%, and tablet sales by 4%.
Why Is Server Response Time Important?
Website optimization is something all business owners look into. They never pay attention to underlying infrastructure. There are cases where choice of poor infrastructure leads to higher expenses on optimization and will still not get your desired results.
Server response time is the amount of time required to load the HTML document of a website from a server so that the client can begin rendering the page. Without a good server response time, the HTML document will take longer to load. The response time of a server is typically measured with what is known as time to first byte (TTFB).
Server response time is an important value to track as all website assets are indirectly dependent upon it. If your server response time is slow, then your whole site will be slow, no matter how optimized your other resources are. According to Google and other speed test tools, such as GTmetrix, you should aim for a server response time of less than 200 ms.
Things that affect server response Time
There are a few factors that can come into play when discussing reasons why a server’s response time is slow. These include:
Poor web hosting – A web host that uses legacy hardware/software will result in a slower response time for the user. All the web hosting companies that give you “unlimited” hosting will cut corners with hardware/software – even when speed is utmost important, you need to ask your hosting provider why they are not giving you HTTP/2, SSD Drives, latest PHP etc.
Increased traffic – Increased traffic means more resources are being used most of the hosting providers will throttle traffic to save money – so your clients will never be able to reach you. Therefore, if your server’s capacity level is reached, then visitors will experience slower response times or even error codes such as bandwidth limit exceeded.Lack of caching – Caching is a crucial step in delivering content faster to users. However, the lack thereof creates unnecessary waiting periods due to the fact that the browser must request assets from the server every time instead of accessing them from a local or intermediary cache.
Closing Thoughts: Need for a Speed Budget
If you’re spending a lot of time and energy getting people to your site, it makes sense to offer the fastest experience possible.
We have come to an era where every business will needs a ‘speed budget’. When we talk about speed budget, it’s not just the infrastructure – surely that plays the most significant role in the same. It is the budget devoted purely to improve the speed of your website.