Long load times leave business websites in the slow lane

Why latency could hurt ROI on search marketing campaigns

Why latency could hurt ROI on search marketing campaigns

How fast your business' website loads could soon factor more highly in how easy it is for customers to find it.

According to search marketing agency Greenlight, there is much speculation over whether latency - how fast a page loads - could make its way into Google's natural search algorithms in the future, and therefore potentially affect where a company's website is ranked in search results.

Google already uses landing page download time as a factor in determining a marketer's Quality Score in its AdWords paid search service, with longer download times contributing to a lower score. In general, a high Quality Score means a keyword will trigger ads in a higher position and at a lower cost per click.

snail

Is your website crawling at a snail's pace?
(Photo credit: Shutterstock)

As a result, companies with slow websites can damage their marketing campaigns' performance and ultimately their return on investment.

The agency conducted a study of 100 of the UK's most popular websites, and found load times ranged from the extremely fast - Argos.co.uk at 0.29 seconds was the standout - to the painfully slow: one high street electronics retailer clocked in at more than 15 seconds.

Greenlight calculates that acceptable maximum loading time for a website is 4.97 seconds - three seconds above the UK average. Any site taking longer to load would almost certainly fall foul of Google's Quality Score download time guidelines, the agency said.

The best performing sites were Argos, River Island, Holiday.co.uk, Fool.co.uk and Comet. Google itself was found to have an average page load speed of 0.11 seconds.

Greenlight said poor download speed is very easily fixed - businesses need to look at things like content distribution, cache control, and even simply reducing the number of HTTP requests their pages make.