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The importance of page load speed for local SEO success

The importance of page load speed for local SEO success

Even if you’re not an SEO expert, you probably know how important speed is to website performance and user experience. For e-commerce sites, slower speeds can impact your conversion rates and visitor satisfaction. When it comes to local businesses, speed is even more important because your customers are likely in a hurry, especially when they’re searching on their smartphones on the go. So how important is loading speed for local strategy? Let’s take a look at what Google says about it and see if we can come up with an answer based on the facts.

What is page load time?

The page load time, which can be found in the developer console of your browser, is how long it takes for a webpage to fully load on a user’s device. By slowing down the webpage’s load time, you give your audience more opportunity to see and interact with the content on the page. The lower this number is, the better.

Can users actually tell how fast a page loads?

It’s not just that users are impatient. It’s also that they are demanding more and more from websites, which means pages should be able to load quicker than ever before. New research has shown that if your page takes over 3 seconds to load, you’ll lose as much as 25% of your traffic. So it’s pretty clear that user patience isn’t the only reason you should care about your site’s loading time, you’re losing out on customers who may never come back again.

What is local search engine optimization?

Local search engine optimization is the practice of having a website optimized for search engines based on geographic location, with a help of keywords. It means optimizing content, meta descriptions, and title tags so that it ranks highly in a Google map or Google search.

Why does site speed matter for local searches?

As if local business owners don’t have enough on their plates, every day they face another challenge: making sure their website loads quickly. In an era where people spend more time browsing the web on mobile devices than ever before, it’s no surprise that Google pays special attention to a website’s load time. Sites with longer load times can see drops in rankings as well as less traffic from organic search results.

The difference between ecommerce sites, informational sites, and lead generation websites (and why this makes a difference)

Every type of website has different needs and requirements. If you’re an ecommerce site, you will want to do everything in your power to reduce load time and make the checkout process seamless. If you’re an informational site, loading speed will be less of a priority, but can still provide valuable benefits if done right. And lead generation sites want people to take action with every page they visit on your site. For this reason, they usually have more images and calls-to-action than other types of websites because visitors should feel like they are part of the process. So there is no clear answer with a good result, but if you manage to load at three seconds, you can be proud of yourself.

What are the consequences of slow websites on ranking?

There is nothing to think about here: less traffic, higher bounce rate, fewer clicks, conversions and leads, and consequently a far ranking position. The difference between slow and fast website might be the deciding factor between success or failure of your business.

Can you get penalized for slow load times?

Sites that are not fully optimized may be penalized. Slow sites may also decrease user trust and customer conversion rates, which can have a negative impact on rankings in the SERPs. Google measures both site speed as well as time-to-click when determining search engine rank positions.

Is it worth paying the money to host locally?

Hosting locally can be the best way to optimize your site’s loading speed. While it may sound costly and time-consuming, having a geographically close web hosting server will actually increase your site’s load times. Hosting in the same area where you want to rank will decrease travel time of data and increase your connections with other local sites, which can also positively impact your rankings.

Can you do everything in house or are there outsourcing options available?

You might not be able to do everything in house but that doesn’t mean you have to outsource. One of the best ways to reduce the time it takes you to get content written is by employing a virtual assistant. A virtual assistant will take on administrative tasks such as writing blog posts, managing social media, and research. However, having an external resource can offer unique benefits. This topic becomes even more complicated when you start thinking about how fast and well your site loads.

Four website changes that can impact site speed right away

Updating your site to be responsive

Making your site responsive will make it easier to share content and make sure that your site can be easily accessed on any device. It’s also an inexpensive way to provide mobile users with a good experience while they’re browsing your site. If you have an existing website, there are a lot of plug-ins and resources available to help you update your site to be responsive.

Using a content delivery network (CDN)

Using a CDN will dramatically reduce your page load time. This type of service distributes your content to multiple data centers, so you get the same site performance regardless of where you’re located or what time of day it is. Plus, they’re easy to set up and most CDN providers have user-friendly interfaces that are a cinch to navigate. With just a few minutes of configuration, you can make your website load faster on any device, in any location.

Enabling compression on images, CSS and JavaScript

Since most of your site’s content will be images, you’ll want to make sure that these are optimized as much as possible. Compressing them with a tool like TinyPNG can help reduce the file size without affecting the image quality. When it comes to the design and functionality of your site, CSS and JavaScript assets should be compressed as well in order to reduce load time.

Caching plugins

Installing a caching plugin can often do wonders to a site’s load time, not only due to the code needed to be generated being saved on the server but also because of caches that are stored locally on a user’s device. This means they will only have to download the data once instead of each time they visit the site. The servers are no longer responsible for generating and outputting the data, so they can spend more time executing their main function.

Final thoughts

The short answer is that the more time it takes your site to load, the less time your potential customer has to stay on your site and do what they wanted. It’s not just about attracting someone to a site with beautiful images and well-written copy— you also have to get them what they’re looking for as quickly as possible. And if you don’t, chances are you’ll be losing them as a customer.

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Aleksandra Pietrzak
Curator at the National Museum in Poznań, graduate of Art History at the Jagiellonian University and Contemporary Art at the Pedagogical University of Krakow, curator of exhibitions and author of scientific and popular texts. A lover of contemporary art, literature and travel.
Category: SEO
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