It is a well known fact that the speed of your website is an SEO ranking factor. I have personally seen websites sink in the rankings which take over 3 seconds to load.
The first reason for this is simple. Google and search engines make money from repeat biz. Their job and goal is to send people to websites that give their users a good user experience. If your page loads slow, aggravates users and forces them to leave, they do not want to send people to your website.
When people leave your website because it is too slow, it produces a high bounce rate. When people then click on another site and hang out there, it can improve their rankings. Yes, Click Through Rates affect SEO.
If you are in a competitive niche, you need to make every SEO improvement possible, no matter how light of a ranking factor it is. I would say that speed is an important factor. Being slightly faster than the next site may not help, but it won’t hurt. And, being too slow will definitely harm you.
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