Loading speed is one of the biggest factors in visitor retention and conversion, yet many website owners slow their pages down by cramming them with extra elements for indexing purposes. It’s an understandable action: you want more content for the search engines to index, as well as more content for your readers to be engaged by. The more content, the more likely that something will grab their attention, right? Well, if your website is slow, the less of your audience will stick around. And, like a messy house, the content-filled website will likely turn your audience off from reading anything. So unless you have a lightning-fast hosting provider that gave you a godaddy coupon code for free, it’s much easier to organize the information on your website into a more user-friendly way.
By streamlining your page design, you can reap the benefits of faster loading times while still gaining the search optimization benefits you want.
Multimedia content and SEO
It’s true that multimedia content can provide a boost to your site’s searchability. The algorithms used by Google and other search providers currently favor sites with rich multimedia content. Shareability and social media elements can also have a positive impact on your site’s search performance, as can the localization provided by elements such as map data. This kind of content also provides value for your visitors, giving them additional information and improving interactivity. It’s also the case that each element you include is another opportunity to add relevant metadata, potentially improving your site’s searchability still further. Surely, therefore, the more content you add, the better?
Website clutter and site loading
Every additional piece of content that you add to your site slows down its loading speed. For text content and smaller images, this won’t make an appreciable difference to your visitors. Bigger files, such as audio and video content or large, high-definition images, can have a greater impact. Some scripts and plug-ins, such as those used to add interactivity or social sharing functionality, can slow your site down even more. If your site is slow to load — even by a fraction of a second — many visitors will simply leave the page and never return. This is especially true for a growing percentage of users who are browsing on mobile, and often need to consider the impact of any given website on their data usage.
Bounce rate and SEO
As well as causing your visitors frustration and impairing your conversion rates, website clutter can harm your site ranking. If visitors are leaving your site without even looking at it properly, they’re not sharing your content or encouraging others to visit. In addition, search engines factor in bounce rates when they evaluate your site. All of this impacts your search engine optimization.
Finding a happy medium
It is possible to strike a happy medium between a rich, engaging website and the fast loading times your users need. The secret is to ensure that everything you add is carefully chosen to add value to your visitors, not just to search engine algorithms. Multimedia content, scripts and plug-ins need to be selected for efficiency as well as SEO appeal, and no page should be loaded down with more elements than are necessary. You should also ensure that your content facilitates your user experience instead of obstructing it. The big animated intro screens of Web 1.0 should be consigned to the dustbin of history, as should continuous animations that may distract or annoy your users. It’s far better to have a few high-quality content elements that add genuine value to your user experience than to weigh your site down with clutter.