Website Speed Improvements Lead to 50% Search Engine Traffic Growth
PLEASE NOTE: This case study is several years old now (2014). Back in 2014, Google had indicated that that page speed enhancements would help with rankings, but:
- Speed wasn't an explicit ranking signal like it is now
- Many of the tools available today to make websites faster weren't developed in 2014
We knew that our client had some issues with site performance, and we decided to work on speed. We were pleasantly surprised to see massive SEO gains as a result of our speed enhancements.
We've left this old case study up to help remind website owners and developers about the importance of speed.
A client's website was slow and somewhat frustrating to use. We knew that site performance was negatively impacting sales, and we attacked the problem.
There are many ways to make websites faster, some of which are expensive and/or technically involved. However, for this client, we were able to focus on low hanging fruit and enjoy big performance gains.
- Server settings were optimized to encourage browser caching and serve compressed files.
- CSS and JS files were reviewed and simplified/consolidated. A few JS files were completely removed and/or loaded more conditionally.
- Images were optimized using Kraken.io, and some images were moved into CSS sprites to reduce HTML request count.
- Caching settings were updated on the server, with more aggressive DB caching in addition to preloaded HTML caches.
- A content delivery network (CDN) was implemented.
All of our performance improvements made a fairly small difference in page load times (less than 1 second faster). However, we noticed both an increase in website engagement and conversion activity as a result.
We also tracked a sizable increase in Google search traffic (53%). While some of this increase was related to our improved engagement rates, our performance improvements were undoubtedly a factor.