Google is now pushing hard promoting the message that page speed is one of their primary ranking factors.
We have been looking at this information from google and seeing if its true that it does help ranking.
We applied changes to a site that was ranking in the doldrums after a long period of keyword dominance. The reason for the drop “we think” is because a new competitor is using black hat means that google does not know about or has not twigged yet, and the doldrum site had lost a link from a high ranking site. Interestingly the high ranking site on the face of it was a link farm – so its debatable if the link was a ranking factor.
So we brought the site from a F rating on GTMetric to an A rating. We improved the page load speed from 10 seconds to under 1 second.
As a result of the speed improvements the bounce rate dropped by 8%. The time on the site increased 30%.
We were now improving in 3 ranking factors.
Because it was an ecommerce site we could see less cart abandons and marginally more sales – because the ranking had dropped the improvement was offset.
We then compared the ranking of the affected site across 1 month and we a small decrease in ranking ! Its not to say things will improve but it is not what we were expecting. We had improved the sites response times, got the bounce rate down, got the dwell times up but the site was still in the doldrums. We are doing the Google dance.
Its not a content issue as all the content is unique and we would have seen the content as good quality.
If your site goes down someone else went up. The site that goes up may or may not be playing fairly and if they are gaming the system they will ( if we believe google ) fall eventually into oblivion. If they are better than you – then you need to catch up and pass out.
There is a sneaking feeling that in doing what google says – we are exposing ourselves as a site who is interested in SEO and possibly more so than content. The https recommendation took years to take effect. The link farm penalty – still some sites get away with it. With all things SEO on ecommerce alot of it is speculation as you cannot press button A and get result B every time. There are guides and pitfalls to avoid but the rest is a bit of a guessing game, finding reasons after the event.
In ecommerce speed is imperative as its proven that long wait times lose customers. There are many studies about this – but in the end its common sense. No one likes to be left waiting.
Cavaet : no one knows for sure how ranking is calculated – no one can guarantee no 1 spot using white hat SEO. If you get emails promising no 1 in google – then hit the spam button.