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A Case Study of SEO Speed, Domain Authority And Keyword Rank

This is from a recently added FAQ to the Ultimate SEO FAQ section.  Check it out for more SEO 411.

Let me show you how important speed is….below you see the search results for a keyword.  The one on the left is for desktop, the one on the right shows mobile.  They are close but one site out ranks another in mobile where it doesn’t in desktop.desktop vs mobile search results

Why is realtor.com not higher than zumper.com in mobile search on the left?  It is higher on desktop.  Consider these metrics:

Realtor.com = Domain Authority: 89 Domain Score: 55 Trust Score 58 Alexa Rank 763 Registered 1996 Ads 3,900 Backlinks 57,000,000 Traffic Rank 108

Zumper.com = Domain Authority: 63 Domain Score: 37 Trust Score 44 Alexa Rank 17,000 Registered 2004 Ads 0 Backlinks 1,700,000 Traffic Rank 2830

In every metric realtor.com wins, so why is it below Zumper.com on the mobile search?

The site with a Domain Authority of 89 loses to the Domain Authority 63 site in mobile because that’s how important speed is on mobile searches.

Site Speed Test on GTMetrix

Realtor.com Fails Page Speed

site speed

Zumper.com Passes Page Speed

page load

We prefer gtmetrix.com for page speed tests.  You can also utilize thinkwithgoogle.com or pingdom.com. 

So in this example we clearly see a more popular site, with much higher DA, Alexa Rank, Backlinks and everything else you can think of beaten by a less established site and the single only factor the smaller site did better was speed.  We cant discount this as … well it’s only important in mobile.  In case you missed it…

60% of searches are mobile

Mobile searches now makeup over 60% of searches. I have one client who has 83% mobile searches…so its best to test your site SEO with mobile first.

Let Ultimate SEO Optimize Your Site Today!

Now when we consider the facts above let’s also dispel people’s over fascination for keywords and text optimization and position of frequency of words, the content length …. on-site SEO, the SEO of the 1990s as I call it… both sites present the same content to the desktop and mobile versions they just differ wildly in the speed.  

What are some of the reasons?  Realtor.com decided to present 16 rows of 3 images of homes to visitors while Zumper shows 4 rows of 1 image …. and then additional rows load as you scroll down.  Lazy Load and 1 image vs 3.  That’s how they keep their requests to about a third of the realtor.com page.

What Are Requests?

I’d suggest you think of requests as if they are shots from a gun at your head.  You need to avoid them!  Less shots is a lot better…

Requests are literally requests of the server before the page can load.  If I make a page with one image on it that is one request.  Lets say I decide to replace that image with a slider with 5 slides, now I have 5 requests … the same page area but that cool feature increases the trips required of a computer to quadruple!  

Lets say now I add social media icons to the page … Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and an email icon …. small and just up in the right corner.  

That social media addition just added 5 more requests.  Think about all the things on your page, they don’t all come together in one big Amazon package with a smile…. they are shipped to the computer individually.  

Now I have one page with 1 request and another with 10 and the initial difference isn’t much…that slider only displays one image at a time.

Latency And Requests

Servers don’t respond instantly…they take a little while to think and retrieve the requested resource and then it has to travel the distance from the server to your computer…may be at the speed of light, but light still takes time. 

This time is called latency.  50 milliseconds is a good latency.

If both servers in question had a 50 ms latency.  We can assume that the

Realtor.com server will take 50 ms x 301 requests = 15050 ms or 15 seconds

Zumper.com server will take 50 ms x 134 requests = 6700 ms or 6 seconds  

Now those latency numbers are just examples but I hope this explains why you want to limit requests, and prioritize speed as much as you focus on keywords and DA.

Ways To Decrease Requests

Do you need separate images?  On ultimateseo.org I wanted to show my COMPTia certifications.  I have 4 icons … I combined them to make one image.   Thats 1/4 the requests but no change in user experience other than a quicker site.

technical certifications

Lazy Load

Lazy Load also helps speed up the initial page load time.  If “below the fold” you have a lot of images on a page … the page needs those images still to finish the load unless you institute lazy load which essentially tells the computer to load an image only when it is coming into view.  

This makes sense likely if you have 300 images on the page and plenty of them are scrolled far down.  

I ran speed tests on the homepage of this site with Lazy Load on …. 3 tests results 2.3 seconds, 1.9 seconds and 1.9 seconds.  I turned off lazy load, and reran the test and got 2.3 seconds, 1.9 seconds and 1.7 seconds.  

So technically the site loaded faster with Lazy Load off….keep in mind it takes a bit of thinking for the server to implement it.

This helps speed up a site drastically if there are a ton of images spread vertically…but not much in a normal page.  What are the full implications on SEO when a site is crawled?

Its suggested by “Ask Yoast” that Lazy Load is fine for SEO and the images are rendered as Google scrolls down the page and indexes the content.

A CDN is also a great tool for site speed.  I recommend Cloudflare’s free option.

Page Speed Has A Big Role

Page speed though is shown here as helping one smaller site beat out every other metric to rank higher than a competitor in mobile searches.

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