Ever since Google has announced that page speed will be a new ranking factor, usability metrics have become tools for ranking pages for Google. Customer satisfaction is significantly related to the speed of your site, a fact that was backed by research which showed that improved site speed can increase user satisfaction conversions.
Data collected from different sites show an approximation of the equation used by Google to report if fast sites are relative to each other.
The equation y = 122.32e-0.31x , where X is the time your page takes to load in seconds along with the result and y is the approximate percentage of pages that your page is faster than, can be used to gauge your speed in comparison to other web pages.
Is site speed important?
It is important to increase site speed to improve users experience and improve conversion rates. The official blog post from Google that announced site speed to be a key factor said:
“While site speed is a new signal, it doesn’t carry as much weight as the relevance of a page. Currently, less than 1% of search queries are affected by the site speed signal.”
This means that when other ranking signals are extremely close or the time taken to load a page is especially poor, site speed affects only the queries. Page speed may come into play in case of high relevancy scores earned by competing pages, and has close link metrics (that almost never happen).
However, this won’t affect the top 10. When seen, it will probably appear to be much lower than the top 10 in keyword ranking.
Improving your site speed
If your aim is to improve SEO, it would be prudent to first focus on building a link rather than putting all your efforts on speed – unless the speed of your site is exceptionally slow. Having said that, in order to improve user experience, speed is a metric that should be improved on.
Some best practices that you can follow to reduce your load time are:
You can use tools like YSLOW and the HTML suggestion in Google webmaster. Both are great resources to get more suggestions specific to your website.