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Site Performance Correlation to Keyword Rankings

Episode Overview

In the third episode of 2019 SEO Predictions Week Jordan and Ben dive into how technical site performance is likely to correlate to key word rankings.

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Episode Transcript

Ben:                 Welcome back to SEO predictions week on the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host Benjamin Shapiro, and this week, we’re going to publish an episode every day covering our bold SEO predictions for 2019. But before we get started, I want to remind you that this podcast is brought to you by the marketing team at Searchmetrics. We are an SEO and content marketing platform that helps enterprise scale businesses monitor their online presence and make data driven decisions.

Ben:                 To support you, our loyal podcast listeners, we’re offering a complimentary digital diagnostic. A member of our digital strategies group will provide you with a consultation that reviews how your website, content, and SEO strategies can be optimized. To schedule your free digital diagnostic, go to

Ben:                 Okay, joining us again for SEO predictions week is Jordan Koene, who’s the lead SEO strategist and the CEO of Searchmetrics Inc. And today we’re going to share our predictions related to how Google will evaluate the technology running your website.

Ben:                 Here’s the third installment of SEO predictions week with Jordan Koene, CEO of Searchmetrics Inc.

Ben:                 Jordan, it’s great to have you back on the show.

Jordan:             Excited to be back. Let’s jump into this fun marathon week.

Ben:                 I know. So today we’re going to talk a little bit about some of the ways that Google is going to prioritize some of the technological changes and how they affect the SEO community. Tell me your technology prediction for 2019.

Jordan:             So the big prediction here on the tech side is fundamentally more and more data around performance becoming visible and present to marketers, SEOs, and obviously the technical, the product and engineering website managers who are making these changes.

Ben:                 So, you’re saying that basically site performance is going to have a larger impact on SEO rankings if I distilled down what you’re saying.

Jordan:             Well, I mean, we’ve talked about this on many episodes, and Google makes a big stink about this all the time, which is speed matter, site performance matters, accessibility matters, and none of this stuff is new. I mean, this stuff has been around and in SEO for ages because obviously if your content is not accessible, it’s not easily crawlable, it’s not easily understand, Google never gets a chance to evaluate and rank. So site performance matters in a variety of different aspects, most notably accessibility or performance or speed, and so those are two main channels that we think about a lot. And then the prediction here isn’t that that’s going to change. That’s been known for a long time. Hello. It’s really about the access to those data points and what is really tweaking the ranking factors around performance.

Ben:                 So, let’s dive a little deeper into that. Let’s start with the ranking factors. What do you think is going to change with how accessibility and site performance impact the rankings?

Jordan:             Sure. And so we have a couple of previous episodes where we’ve talked about some of these specific KPIs. But most notably, it’s Lighthouse scores. So Lighthouse is actually … It’s really a free tool that Google provides, and it allows you to look at various different speed metrics across your site and evaluate on like a zero to 100 scale, how well your website is performing.

Ben:                 Is this part of Webmaster tools or how do people get access to the Lighthouse scores?

Jordan:             Great question, Ben, and this leads into the prediction here, which is right now Lighthouse is kind of a stand along thing. Google’s talked a lot about it. They’ve mentioned that hey, this is kind of the way we evaluate performance now. Everybody please use it. There’s even been some great tools out there like Treo. I think it’s T-R-E-O .sh. As well as Searchmetrics. We’ve been working on introducing and adding in these KPIs so that our users can better understand how websites perform. And I mention Treo because of its uniqueness and its utility, but one of the things that we do differently than them, which they just kind of give you the scores. We try to map your performance to core KPIs like rankings or volatility or market share. And so ultimately, the message here and the key takeaway here is that this Lighthouse tool is a stand-alone, separate entity, and right now slowly but surely, it’s becoming more integrated to the holistic view of SEO performance.

Ben:                 Okay. So Google basically made this Lighthouse scoring system. It’s an independent tool and they keep referencing it. And your prediction is that what goes into the Lighthouse score, understanding your performance and accessibility is going to continue to impact rankings and have a larger impact. Do you think that it’s going to get folded into Webmaster tools? Do you think it’s going to continue to be separate? What should SEOs expect Google to do to continue to educate and inform the SEO community about how they’re viewing someone’s performance?

Jordan:             Absolutely. So one little tweak there, Lighthouse is an open source piece of technology, certainly the majority of the contribution here is from Google and Google engineers. But I just want to make sure that everybody understands that because of the fact that since it is open sourced, it allows us to integrate it into a lot of places. I mean, right now most notably it’s integrated within Chrome. So you can use this within Chrome in the developer tool section. But where I’m excited, where I’m getting really excited to see this tool and this data is inside of Google Analytics, is inside of Google Search console, is inside of Searchmetrics. Having that accessibility to these metrics as you’re looking at other KPIs, really will change the game and truly help companies understand why site performance is so important.

Ben:                 Yeah. So at the end of the day, essentially what’s going to happen is this Lighthouse scoring mechanism, the open source software is going to be integrated into Google’s tools and in other site performance analytics like Searchmetrics where you’re going to be able to not only tell what your score is and how it’s changed but also with the impact it’s having on your business.

Jordan:             Bingo. Absolutely.

Ben:                 Okay. What’s the underlying reason why site performance and accessibility is something that Google is prioritizing so much?

Jordan:             Yeah, Ben, great question. So I mean, ultimately, hey, we all know this. It’s an on demand world. I mean, we operate while chewing gum, and we have handheld devices in one hand, we’ve got our computer in the other hand or we’ve got our iPad in the other hand, and the reality is if we’re not getting the data instantly within these devices and we’re not accessing it in this speed and the efficiency that we expect as consumers, we’re off to the next page.

Ben:                 So I think what you’re getting at is it’s on demand world, and if you have your phone in one hand, your computer in another your other hand, and your laptop in the third hand, I don’t know how you’re holding all those things because last time I checked, people only had two hands.

Jordan:             This is true. This is true.

Ben:                 But whatever they’re doing with however many hands they have, the expectation for the end consumer is that answers come quickly. Becoming are becoming more and more impatient and expect their answers faster, and that’s what’s driving this continued focus by Google on site performance and basically pace.

Jordan:             Exactly. I mean, one of the really interesting things that I think Google, and now we’re getting down into the very, very speculative zone of things, is Google is starting to really understand how they can help consumers with what I call the behavior of sequential search. So you do one search, then you do the next search. You’re trying to trickle down into what is it that you really want, and Google has this data already and they’re already studying this data. But when you have speed at your fingertips and when you can make something super, super accessible in a super-fast way, its starts to really create efficiencies around sequential search because you’re able to digest something very, very quickly and then move on to the next search and figure out what it is you truly want and desire.

Jordan:             And so that’s why speed matters, not just in a search world but in ultimately what the consumers trying to process and learn.

Ben:                 Yeah. It seems logical that the way that people digest information is sequential, like what you’re talking about. Hey Google, what’s a good search analytics tool. Okay, Searchmetrics. Hey Google, tell me about Searchmetrics feature set. You want to ask a sequence of questions to get small bits of information because you can only retain so much at one time. So I understand why smaller bits of information getting sent to people at a faster pace helps them digest and understand more.

Jordan:             Exactly.

Ben:                 One thing I want to ask you about, just going back to analytics, is we talked a little bit about the Lighthouse scoring mechanism or the Lighthouse scoring system analyzing accessibility and performance and how that potentially could be integrated into other tools. Why is that important? Why can’t you just look at your Lighthouse score and look at your site performance separately?

Jordan:             This is such a good question, and the simplest way that I can explain it is have you ever sat down with a CEO and tried to explain to them that speed matters and that having the fastest website matters. They often look at you like …

Ben:                 No.

Jordan:             No. Well, you should try it because they look at you like a deer in headlights and say, “Duh. It’s a no brainer.” But they really have no idea what that means. Because what it really truly means, if you really understand speed on a website, is it means money. It means conversions. It means leads. It means more users reading your content. And ultimately, that connection isn’t truly understood until you look at volatility in performance correlated or connected to true business KPIs like traffic, conversions, revenue. And so connecting those two things is very vital in the storyline that Google’s trying to sell around performance.

Ben:                 Yeah, essentially what you’re saying is you can communicate up the chain. Hey, having a performance website really matters, and everybody’s going to say, “Well, duh. I know.” But the question is how much does it matter, and by connecting your Lighthouse score and being able to map that to conversions and ROI, you can actually show your leadership this is the impact some of the changes we’re making have.

Jordan:             Bingo. You got it.

Ben:                 Okay. Yeah. So I think just to wrap everything up and summarize. Jordan’s prediction is really that site performance and accessibility is going to continue to be a major factor in how Google ranks your keywords, and the prediction is that the Lighthouse scoring mechanism, which is an open source piece of software, is going to be integrated into multiple other analytics tools, which is going to allow you to not only understand your site performance but map it back to your KPIs like revenue and conversions.

Ben:                 And that wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thank you for listening to my conversation with Jordan Koene, the CEO of Searchmetrics Inc. We’d love to continue the conversation with you, so if you’re interested in contacting Jordan, you can find a link in his bio to our show notes, or you can contact him on Twitter where his handle is @JTKoene. If you have general marketing questions or if you want to talk about this podcast, you can find my contact information in our show notes, or you can shoot me a tweet @BenJShap. If you’re interested in learning more about how to use search data to boost your organic traffic, your online visibility or to gain competitive insights, head over to for your complimentary advisory session with our digital strategies team.

Ben:                 If you like this podcast and you want to regular stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, hit the subscribe feed in your podcast app and we’ll be back in your feed tomorrow morning to discuss how government regulations will impact your SEO strategy in 2019.

Ben:                 Lastly, if you’ve enjoyed this podcast and you’re feeling generous, we’d love for you to leave us a review in the Apple iTunes store or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

Ben:                 Okay. That’s it for today, but until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.