Performance Score Affect on SEO
While it may feel like a huge victory to get that “100%” on GT Metrix or Pagespeed Insights, for SEO purposes, the performance score is mostly insignificant. The search engines do not care if you’ve removed static query strings, deferred parsing, minified HTML and/or CSS, or any other line item in the list of recommendations. Furthermore, none of these issues are visible to a website’s visitors, so they have no bearing on user experience or conversion rate either. Time spent trying to achieve a perfect performance score would be more wisely invested on improving elements that the search engines (and viewers) do care about, such as improving load time.
Load Time Affect on SEO
Unlike performance, the time it takes for a page to load does play an important role in SEO. A slow page speed means that search engines can crawl fewer pages using their allocated crawl budget, and this could negatively affect your indexation. Google’s sweet spot is currently at 4 seconds or less for the time to full page load, and I would not be the least bit surprised to see even more aggressive load time expectations with future algorythm updates. I’m going to contradict myself a bit here to say that if there are any unresolved performance issues that are directly contributing to page load latency, then those performance issues should be addressed so as to improve the page speed. Optimizing images, minifying HTML & CSS, and using G-Zip compression are performance issues that do have a direct impact on load time and thus, does affect SEO.
The search engine algorythm takes into account users’ expectations and is continuously striving to improve the world wide web. Website visitors today have come to expect nearly instantaneous results on initial load, as well as while navigating within the website. Recent statistics indicate that 25% of visitors will bounce if the page is not fully loaded just past the 4 second mark. By 7 seconds, the bounce rate increases to 50%, and the remaining potential visitors steadily drop until total abandonment is reached right around 11 seconds. If you’re not already optimizing all of your websites for speed, you should definitely consider making this a standard practice!
Performance score is only important in as much as the line items that directly affect page speed. Load time; however, is equally important for search engine indexing, user experience, and conversion rates. If your page is not fully loaded in 4 seconds or less, additional optimization is crucial.
Stay tuned for future posts on how to improve page speed!