Optimizing a website's performance is an important part of ensuring a website shows up high in search results
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Website speed is one of many factors involved in the discipline of search engine optimization (SEO), but it is not the only one. SEO is the practice of tailoring content and website experience to how search engines like Google and Bing evaluate webpages and rank them in search results. The goal of SEO is to rank pages as highly as possible in search results, which ultimately drives more traffic to a website.
From a search engine's perspective, it is important to make it easy for users to find the information they need, so a website's user experience is very important. Site performance is a big part of user experience; it is frustrating for the user when they have to wait for pages to finish loading.
In 2010, Google announced that site speed would be factored into their search rankings. Since that time, site performance has grown more influential, and [optimizing for performance](https://www.cloudflare.com/solutions/ecommerce/optimization/) is now a large part of optimizing for SEO. In their initial announcement of site speed as a ranking factor, Google emphasized the perspective of the user, and how a slow website adversely impacts the user's experience. Google also pointed out that users were less likely to stay on websites that loaded slowly. (This would imply that users were therefore less likely to stay long enough to get their query answered.)
Google does not reveal details about its search algorithms, so it is difficult to quantify exactly how much site speed affects SEO. However, website usability and the overall user experience are certainly crucial, especially for mobile devices, and Google's own research has shown that 53% of mobile sites are abandoned altogether if they take longer than 3 seconds to load.
When a user performs a search, the search engine generates a list of websites that are put in order from most likely to least likely to fulfill the query. This list is typically divided into a series of results pages (or SERPs) listing websites that may answer the user's query, and usually there are 10 results per SERP. Most users will not go past the first page of search results, opting instead to refine their search and try again. For this reason, the goal of most SEO experts is to get the website they are managing into the top 10 search results for the queries they are targeting.
A website will rank higher or lower in search engine results depending on a number of factors, including how relevant it is for the query and how authoritative the search algorithm considers the website to be. By optimizing a website for search, website owners can make sure their content shows up as high as possible in search rankings, making it more likely that users will click.
SEO functions as a collection of practices for helping search engines determine what kind of information is offered on a website, and by extension, enabling users who are looking for that information to find it.
In the West, Google dominates the search engine market, and because of this Google's algorithms are largely what determine SEO best practices. In North America, Google has close to 90% of all searches, with Bing and Yahoo search taking up most of the rest of the market. However, in other parts of the world, other search engines hold sway; for instance, Baidu is the main search engine in China.
SEO encompasses a variety of tactics, including:
Some website owners opt to use problematic tactics called “black hat” SEO, but these are generally not recommended. One of the most well-known techniques is called keyword stuffing.
Keyword stuffing is the practice of using keywords multiple times in content to an unnatural degree to gain an advantage in search engine rankings. Google no longer considers the frequency with which keywords are used to be relevant and sometimes penalizes sites for clear instances of keyword stuffing.
SEO is critical to a holistic marketing strategy, partially because having relevant content that ranks highly is good for a company’s authority in their chosen industry.
Additionally, SEO is an organic or unpaid marketing tactic. While it may require time and effort to optimize a piece of content or optimize the user experience, the traffic SEO efforts garner is not something that can be bought. Compare this to digital ads, which disappear as soon as a company stops paying for them. In this sense, SEO efforts may have more long-term benefits compared to pay-to-play tactics.
SEO can also help companies build an audience of future buyers. For example, if an ecommerce company that sells sunscreen wants to drive potential customers to their site, they can pay to have their website appear as an ad on other websites. But that will only capture some potential buyers. Someone who searches on Google, “what are the benefits of wearing sunscreen” may also be a potential customer, but could be unlikely to click or see an ad. A holistic marketing strategy will have tactics to make both of these types of customers familiar with their brand and eventually convert them into buyers. SEO should be part of that strategy.
Content and keyword research
On-page SEO tips
User experience and technical SEO
There are many factors in technical SEO, but here are two of the most important:
Cloudflare offers a few tools for boosting site speed, which can improve technical SEO. Cloudflare CDN improves website performance by caching static and dynamic content across a global network spanning more than 300 cities in over 100 countries. Additionally, Cloudflare Images offers resizing functionality that can compress images and further increase website loading speed.
Performance and SEO
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