- Almost half of all internet users expect a website to load in under two seconds, and 40% abandon websites that load too slow.
- Page speed is how quickly your website loads and performs, from the general pages down to individual posts and images
- Page speed is important in terms of how well your website performs on search engines like Google and Bing, and subsequently how it ranks on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
- Page speed recently became an even bigger factor with the release of Google’s Core Web Vitals. It’s now one of the main factors that impact your spot on the Google SERPs.
Almost half of internet users expect a website to load in under two seconds. A further 40% of internet users abandon websites that are slow when loading. If you’ve ever waited too long for a web page to load and felt the frustration of a slow-loading site, you can understand why page speed and SEO are so important to keeping visitors on your site.
In this blog, we’ll discuss page speed as a ranking factor, Google’s Core Web Vitals update, and what this means for your website and search traffic.
Page speed and SEO: The basics
Page speed and SEO are important in terms of how well your website performs on search engines like Google and Bing, and subsequently how it ranks on the search engine results pages (SERPs). Search engines have algorithms that determine which sites rank the highest, and they use a combination of the factors outlined below, among others, to determine where you land on the SERPs.
SEO factors to consider (in addition to site and page speed):
- Keyword use
- Mobile usability
- External links
- Internal links
- URL structure
- Header tags and titles
- Meta descriptions
- Alt text on images
- Quality of information
Page speed is how quickly your website loads and performs, from the general pages down to individual posts and images. You want your website to load without the text jumping all over the page, and since pages can distort when using a mobile device, you want your website to adjust to any device. Good content is important, as is great photography.
But even with perfect photography and interesting content, your visitors will click off the website and go to a competitor if your site is running slow. You don’t want to risk losing your visitors to competitors because of performance issues on your website. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to improve your page speed.
Why page speed is important for your website
A high-quality website has many factors that impact how it reaches the top of Google. Performance, readability, and usability are just as important as using the right keywords and having a good URL structure. In terms of performance, page speed recently became an even bigger factor with the release of Google’s Core Web Vitals. It’s now one of the main factors that impact your spot on the Google SERPs.
Stepping away from the benefits of SEO, page speed is very important for many other reasons, namely keeping your customers and clients on your website.
If you’re selling products, you want a seamless checkout service for the customer. A non-responsive site can cause problems when your customer is checking out, which can upset the customer and make them refuse to use the site again. Similarly, visitors will read something as soon as the website has loaded. If the images and other aspects have not yet loaded, the text may jump around and cause confusion.
Neither of these would be considered a great customer experience and can reflect badly on your site.
What are Google Core Web Vitals?
We will look at Google Core Web Vitals and the impact it has on SEO, specifically as it relates to performance on the Google platform. Core Web Vitals are part of Google’s overall “page experience” framework evaluation and officially became ranking signals in the summer of 2021.
The three core web vitals are:
- Loading time – Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
- Interactivity time – First Input Delay (FID)
- Visual stability – Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
As you probably guessed, loading time is how long the website takes to load. The largest contentful paint is the page. For optimal loading, Google expects the page to load in under 2.5 seconds.
Interactivity is how long it takes for the user to interact with the website. So this is from the point the user presses a button to when the browser can respond to this action. Google would like this to be under 100 milliseconds.
Visual stability is how stable the website is when loading. When you open a website, the text can shift once an image renders, so this may shift the entire block of text. Google would like to see this measurement under 0.1.
Further page experience factors
Other factors Google considers are:
- Mobile Friendliness
- Safe Browsing
- Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS)
- No Intrusive Interstitials
Mobile-friendliness is how the website performs when visited from a mobile device. Content will condense, and some aspects, such as drop-down menus, may become unusable. Google looks at how the website loads and how the content fits the screen. Testing the website under different mobile options can help you find any issues.
Safe browsing is Google’s way of making sure users of your website are safe and not under attack from malicious viruses or malware. When you visit popular sites, think about how well ranked they are. They take time to make sure that there is no malware or viruses on the site and that users are protected. Google expects the same from a website. Hypertext transfer protocol secure (HTTPS) is a secure version of HTTP and Google prefers websites to be running on HTTPS.
Intrusive interstitials are pop-ups that cover the screen and render the website unusable. You cannot click off or navigate the website as a pop-up is in the way. Google likes you to give the user an option to remove the pop-up from their screen.
Google introduced these page experience factors to ensure that users of your website are safe and secure, and that your website is running well. Now that you understand the importance of page speed we’ll discuss how you can increase the speed of your site for optimal performance.
How can I increase my site speed?
The page speed benefits are tremendous and can affect how long a user spends on your site. If you’re curious about what’s slowing down your site, here are the most common reasons for a slower page speed:
- Unoptimized images
- Overuse of flash content
- Too many HTTP requests
- Not using caching
Ways to increase response time
If you’re concerned about your site speed, there are a few things you can do to improve it. Most of these fixes can be done on your own or by your developer, but we’re more than happy to help as well.
- Images should be optimized before being added to your site. Resize images before you upload them (under 100KB is ideal), and then use an image optimization plugin to optimize them once published.
- If you use flash, find an alternative. Look for an HTML5 replacement so your website runs faster.
- When you overindulge in images on a page this can cause your website to overload in HTTP requests. Be selective with how many images you have on a page.
- Caching is revolutionary for speeding up a website or page. Some hosts will have caching already installed, which makes it easier for you. Most of the time, you need your own plugin or service to do this for you. With caching, your website is saved at different points, and this makes the retrieval of your site much faster.
Where can I find page speed help?
Page speed insights are available for you to see how your website is performing. You can use Google’s proprietary tool (PageSpeed Insights) to evaluate the performance of your site and make adjustments from there. Some clients, particularly those on a budget, wonder if they need to focus their time and resources on page speed instead of SEO. Interestingly enough, page speed affects your SEO and SEO affects your page speed, so both should be focused on in tandem. If you work with a reputable SEO company (like ours!), page speed will likely be an important element on your SEO agency’s roadmap. If it’s not, ask them how your page speed measures up and what improvements can be made. Keeping page speed up can take a lot of work, time, and research, so if you need help with your page speed and SEO, contact us to see how we can help!