How Important Is Page Speed Really?

I have an 8-year-old, and if you’re a parent, you probably know the game “Would you rather.” Here’s how I play “Would you rather” with our clients: I ask them, “Would you rather have a fast website or sell stuff?”

As a marketing and branding agency that offers website development services, we often make choices about website features that help companies sell better but go against a lot of what you may read about page speed on the internet. In my experience, page speed isn’t necessarily as important as some SEO firms say it is.

Here’s how page speed affects Google mobile search rankings, straight from the folks at Google :

“The ‘Speed Update,’ as we’re calling it, will only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries. It applies the same standard to all pages, regardless of the technology used to build the page. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.”

What holds true for mobile sites is by default true for desktop sites as well.

No matter what you read online, Google is the one that makes the rules, so listen carefully to what the company says and how it applies to your business.

Page Speed Vs. Content That Converts

There are many factors that can contribute to a slow website. They include hosting, the theme you choose and the number of plug-ins you use. Some of the factors, such as image size and whether you have streaming video, ads and social feeds on your site, can slow down your website but help increase your conversion rates. Think about the websites you like best — I bet that they all have a big banner image or video.

Faster is almost always better, of course, but before you make a decision about changing your site, understand that there’s a balance to find between speed and great content, and often companies choose conversion over page speed. If you plug some big-name websites into Google PageSpeed Insights, a tool developers use to gauge page speed, you may notice that many of them have lower scores (both on their mobile and desktop versions). A site that scores under 50 is considered slow, while 50-89 is considered average and a site that scores over 90 is considered fast.

Increasing Page Speed

If you do want to speed up your site, here’s what we recommend: Have your developer pull reports from tools like Google PageSpeed Insights and GTmetrix to establish a baseline for your site speed. They’ll assign your site a score and identify opportunities to increase page speed. Some of these fixes are expensive, and some are simple and cheap. Then, have your developer focus on these six areas in order of effectiveness and cost, and after each stage, pull another report to see where you are.

1. Server/Hosting Configuration

Make sure you’re on a speedy host — one that uses […]

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