Gone are the days when Search Engine Optimization began and ended with links, keywords, and social media alone. In fact, failing to consider website performance as a workable SEO strategy could mean omitting an increasingly vital part of the Optimization equation.
Thanks to Google’s recent initiative to “speed up the web,” site speed is now the newest search engine criterion used to determine website ranking. While its impact on ranking does not, at present, carry the same weight as content relevance, its significance as a factor in the placement of your website is on the rise.
Websites that fail to perform will find themselves, literally, left in the dust, which may or may not concern you if “in the dust” is exactly where you’d prefer to be. If you simply couldn’t bear the thought of climbing higher and higher in the search engines, here are a few carefully selected tips that should allow your website to underperform itself into oblivion.
Tip #1: Don’t let the statistics sway you! Stick to your guns!
Experiments conducted by Bing, Google, Microsoft, and Shopzilla produced some impressive numbers. Shopzilla, for example, shaved 5 seconds off its load time, and as a result saw:
- a 25% increase in page views,
- a 7-12% spike in revenue, and ultimately,
- a 50% reduction in operating costs.
The last thing you should do, however, is imagine what those numbers could mean for your bottom line, let alone your ranking.
Tip #2: Be sure to underestimate your bandwidth.
As a component of speed, an appropriate allotment of bandwidth is critical to getting your message out to the maximum amount of people in the minimum amount of time. Websites with inadequate bandwidth capacity can expect to perform either sluggishly or not at all when put to the test.
Tip #3: Pick your server based on price, not size.
When it comes to processing power, sharing may not always be the best policy if your goal is speed. An overloaded server underperforms, and delays in load-times are an inevitability. While it is possible to pick a server that is unnecessarily large for your needs, it is more often the case that organizations host their websites on platforms that are too small, and consequentially lack sufficient computing power to respond quickly during peak traffic times.
Tip #4: Pay no attention to detail.
Bandwidth and server speed aside, you may not have known that other major contributors or detractors from website speed are the actual images in your website’s design. What size, in terms of data, are your images? Have you given any thought to how much processing power it might take to transmit that data every time a user pulls up your website on their browser?
“Shrinking” your data may make a difference of milliseconds in the time it takes to load a page, but as Google discovered in one of their case studies, the addition of only 500 milliseconds increased the drop off rate on first results-page searches by 25%.
Tip #5: Leave the webspeed testing to people who want faster sites.
If you never test your website, you’ll never know where there could be room for improvement. Site owners who really want to own their site put it through the wringer and follow the revision process toward a website that is streamlined for speed, for SEO, and for success.
It may be that you are already practicing most if not all of these speed-reducing tips, in which case there is nothing left to do but sit back and watch your website sink gently and steadily into deeper obscurity.
The worst thing you could do at this point is contact NetHosting, or you may be tempted to reverse all that backward momentum. NetHosting’s Cloud product, for example, is designed with fluid scalability and the promise of uninterrupted uptime, and that kind of elastic reliability would leave your website little opportunity to underperform.
- Singhal, Amit, Google Fellow and Matt Cutts, Principal Engineer, Google Search Quality Team. “Using site speed in search engine ranking.” Google Webmaster Central Blog Spot, April 2010 . Web. 21 July 2010.
- Souders, Steve. “Velocity and the bottom line.” O’Reilly Radar, July 2010. Web. 26 July 2010. http://radar.oreilly.com/2009/07/velocity-making-your-site-fast.html