How page speed affects SEO and Google rankings

How page speed affects SEO and Google rankings

Google emphasizes speed as one of the ranking factors – which has all websites racing to achieve the highest speed. In an attempt to help people to fulfil their mission of achieving high speed, Google has introduced a set of tools, like Google Lighthouse, to increase a website’s speed.

This article will give you a clear idea about page speed and how it impacts SEO. Meanwhile, if you are looking for SEO services, reach out to our team at Seattle New Media. We offer the best SEO services in Seattle.

Let us delve into page speed

Firstly, do not confuse page speed with site speed. Site speed refers to the page speed for a sample of page views on a site. Page speed can be thought of either page load time or time to first byte. (Page load time is the time taken to fully display the content on a specific page and time to first byte is the time taken by the browser to receive the first byte of information from the webserver.)

Speed affects landing pages as well when it comes to Google Search and Ads.

Think of a situation where users face a slow experience on mobile. They would either have to wait too long or they would abandon your site and never return. If a mobile site takes more than 3 seconds to load, that site is likely to lose more than half of its visitors. Google Search and Ads teams published two new speed initiatives, intended at improving user experience on the web.

Besides using real-world field stats, site owners and developers should focus on user-centric performance metrics by using tools, such as Lighthouse and PageSpeed Insights, to evaluate and improve user experience.

Mobile searches use speed as a ranking factor.

As discussed earlier, users want answers to questions instantly. And no one wants to wait, if the page takes too long to load. Speed happens to be one of ranking signal for desktop searches since 2010 and for mobile searches since 2018.

If you are looking to increase the page speed for desktops, think of the factors that might be impacting it (e.g., check if there is too much JavaScript or too many images). According to SEO experts, images and JavaScript affect page load time.

How to evaluate performance?

Use PageSpeed Insights to identify your site’s speed field data – in addition to suggestions for common optimization strategies to improve the speed.

You can use Lighthouse for personalized advice on improving your website’s performance, accessibility, SEO, PWA, and other factors.

Ads landing pages and the mobile speed score

Speed is one of the factors that deeply influence advertising. Faster landing pages indicate better or improved ROI. A number of factors, such as the impact of page speed on potential conversion rates, are considered when evaluating the mobile speed score, which is based on real-time user experience data. The score is assigned from 1 to 10 – with 10 being assigned for the fastest. Use this score to analyze which of the landing pages on mobile offer a faster experience on mobile. This will help you understand which of the pages you might want to focus on or rework for better results.

Use Parallel Tracking to load landing pages at a higher speed and thereby, reduce bounce backs. With parallel tracking, your customers visiting your ad would land directly on the final URL (using the browser’s navigator.sendBeacon() method, click measurement takes place in the background).

Let us focus on some of the SEO best practices to improve your page’s speed

According to Google, site speed is one of the factors that Google’s algorithm uses to rank pages. The site speed, in turn, affects the page speed. Also, according to researches, Google measures time, in relation, to the first byte when considering page speed. When a page is slow, it is an indication that search engines are eligible to crawl fewer pages based on the crawl budget allocated, which, ultimately, leads to negatively impacting your indexation. As we already discussed, page speed directly impacts user experience. (A page that takes too long to load is found to have higher bounce rates and fewer visitors spending more time. With slower load times, conversions might be negatively affected.)

  • Enabling compression
    To compress files or reduce the size of CSS, HTML, and JavaScript files (> 150 bytes), a software application called Gzip is available that can be used for file compression. This application would not work on image files. Here, what you can do is use a program, such as Photoshop, where you can ensure that the original quality of the image is not lost.
  • Minifying CSS, JavaScript and HTML
    Optimize your code, which would include removing spaces, commas, or any other unnecessary characters – to increase your page speed. When you are optimizing your code, do remove code comments, any unused code, and formatting. Use CSSNano and UglifyJS to optimize your code.
  • Reducing redirects
    Whenever a page is optimized to redirect to another page, the visitors are faced with additional time, while waiting for the HTTP request-response cycle to end. Work on reducing redirects or avoid including redirects, wherever possible.
  • Removing render-blocking JavaScript
    Before a browser renders a page, they are required to build a DOM tree – parsing HTML. In case, if the browser comes across a script during this process, it will be required to take a pause and process it before continuing. Recommended minimizing the use of blocking JavaScript. If you could avoid including it altogether, it is for the best.
  • Improving server response time
    A server’s optimal response time is less than 200ms. The amount of traffic a site drives, the resources utilized by each page, the server’s software, and the hosting solution – all affect the site’s server response time. If you are looking for ways to improve your server’s response time, you can focus on fixing slow database queries, slow routing, or a lack of adequate memory.

Keep evaluating your site’s performance. This continuous measurement will help you determine if you need to optimize your site. Keep tracking and if needed, repeating the entire cycle.
A page that loads faster offers improved web experience, leading to higher user engagement, conversions, and higher ROIs.

Each website is unique and has different requirements. You would have to constantly change your approaches and tactics to improve your site’s performance.

Would you need help with a site audit or improve your page’s speed? Avail our Seattle SEO services and let us fix all your website’s performance issues.

At Seattle New Media, we offer all kinds of website design and development, and digital marketing services to help our clients to take their business to the next level. For a consultation, contact us today.