You know the situation: You stare expectantly at your smartphone and wait for a website to load. Actually, everything should be very fast and smooth, because you have an excellent bandwidth, but still nothing happens. In the end you decide to look somewhere else for the information you need/desire. You might miss the most relevant facts to solve your problem or need, but you just don’t have the time/desire to wait any longer. Your customers will feel the same way if they have to put up with too long loading times on your company website, for example. In the worst case, a user experience may not take place at all or it may be severely restricted. In addition, the loading speed at Google now officially has a direct influence on the ranking.
Since July 2018, the so-called page speed in the mobile sector has been a real ranking factor, analogous to desktop orientations. So far, the evaluation regarding this has not been very differentiated, but the loading speed should always be considered, especially in connection with SEO content. Initially, only above-average slow or fast pages will be downgraded or upgraded. However, the procedure will probably become more and more granular.
Like other ranking factors, the page speed factor has only a low value compared to the influencing giants, such as backlinks (which we will come to later) and content. This means that pages with good content will usually rank better than fast pages with mediocre content despite long loading times.
There are a lot of speculations on the net about when a page is fast and when it isn’t. These assumptions range from vague statements, à la “fast enough for the user”, to concrete time specifications, such as “no longer than 3 seconds”, “at least 1.5 seconds” or similar. The Search Console classifies the download of a page in more than 3 seconds as (too) long. Times between 1.5 and 3 seconds are a good average. According to Google’s John Mueller, the search engine leader really only differentiates between slow and fast.
You can easily test the page speed of your website using the Google Pagespeed Insights tool. Here you should at least land in the upper third. Google’s colleague Gary Illyes is already becoming a bit more concrete: In terms of mobile, it is absolutely sufficient to reach a value of 85.
It is still relevant to explain why Google accepts page speed as a ranking factor and why you as a website operator should pay attention to fast loading times. First of all, the user experience is once again at stake. Especially on smartphones, there is often only a relatively low bandwidth available. Even websites that are slow in their own right additionally delay the loading process, which makes the user’s experience all the worse. Secondly, the crawling of websites that are already loading quickly at their base can be arranged much more efficiently, which saves Google money.
According to a statement by John Mueller, pages that take the Google bot more than 2 seconds to download are therefore simply crawled less frequently than fast ones. If your web presence is not remarkably slow, you don’t have to worry about being crawled much less by the bot. Nevertheless, page speed already plays a certain role in the big SEO whole, which will probably become even more important in the future.
A large part of the loading delay of websites is caused by pictures and graphics. In terms of perfect SEO content and page speed, these should always be kept in mind. If such elements are too large, you will probably notice this already at a long upload time. This time will add up to a mass of several images and will have a negative effect on the page speed.
So always use the smallest possible picture elements. This is not primarily the pixel size, but the file size in KB or MB. If necessary, you can and should compress such files simply using an image editing program or a similar tool. It is important to choose a lossless compression method. After all, you don’t want your visitors to experience a negative user experience due to a poor resolution – for example in the case of an important, meaningful information graphic.
People like machines, in this case search engines, value simplicity. Both find it easier to read a URL that is easy to identify than one with a possibly cryptic string. Search engine algorithms or crawlers can handle comprehensible URLs better and therefore rate them more positively in their rankings. Moreover, simple and short URLs in SERPs are more likely to entice users to click on them than longer and more complicated forms. As a result, the click rate on a website can be increased significantly. This in turn serves the search engine as an indication of the relevance or popularity of corresponding content. In the end, at best, it provides a good user experience once again.
For the perfect SEO content itself, URLs only play a secondary role, but without the optimal alignment of these addresses, even the best content cannot develop its full SEO effect. Thus, in the context of creating SEO content, URLs that speak for themselves are particularly relevant for success.
On the one hand, speaking URLs have the highest benefit for the users. The structure of a page and its contents clearly shows what it is all about and what information users can expect. In addition, navigation on a website is easier to understand when using speaking URLs. Thus, for example, the user can find out which subpage he is currently on with just one glance and can navigate directly via the URL by making small adjustments – deleting or adding terms.
On the other hand, speaking URLs also help Google and co. to draw initial conclusions about the content provided on a page. In this context it is again appropriate to include the main keywords.
However, it is more important to direct the URL to your users than to your customers. If they discover the word they used for their search in the URL displayed on the SERPs, their willingness to follow the link will usually increase significantly. However, you should refrain from using a lot of keywords in one URL. Such behavior can be interpreted by search engines as keyword stuffing, which can quickly cause you to lose places in the ranking.
These other quite typical mistakes should also be avoided at all costs when creating a URL:
The use of capital letters: Since Google indexes “case sensitive”, i.e. every different spelling means a new URL, you run the risk of generating duplicate content if you use capital letters.
The use of umlauts: Umlauts can cause problems especially with international SEO. They are largely not supported in domains and URLs and can therefore cause confusion for users and search engines.
The insertion of hashtags: In principle, search engines ignore everything that is written in a URL after a hashtag. If a hashtag must be used in a URL, it is likely that this subpage will not be automatically crawled and indexed.
The use of underscores: You should always avoid underscores within URLs, because search engines interpret them as connectors and not – as often intended – as separators. Always use hyphens to separate words.
Create nested URLs: Websites with deep click paths usually lead to very long URLs. If then keywords or filler words are artificially lined up one after the other, the chaos is often perfect. Avoid long paths and deep page structures.