Page speed is a little-known but significant factor that Google uses to determine your website’s organic search ranking. The faster your web pages, the better your ranking.
Unfortunately, not many companies realise the value of page speed and website performance optimisation. This is because it is of relatively new importance to Google’s algorithms.
In May 2021, Google announced an update to how it prioritises websites in organic search, with a stronger emphasis on what’s known as Core Web Vitals. This is a group of metrics that analyse the user experience of a webpage based on factors like load performance, responsiveness to user input and layout stability.
A fast page speed directly contributes to an improved Core Web Vitals performance, resulting in a higher search engine ranking. However, right now, many organisations are focusing on traditional ranking signals like text and meta descriptions. This isn’t enough anymore.
Ultimately, if you want to come up top on Google search, you need to build a website that is lightning fast. With that in mind, let’s get you up to speed on page speed.
What is page speed?
At a high level, page speed is all about how quickly your web pages loads. Behind the scenes, though, a lot goes into a page loading from a technical standpoint.
To help you overcome issues relating to page speed, it’s helpful to understand precisely how it’s measured. Here’s how the Core Web Vital metrics and page speed connect:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): The amount of time it takes to load the largest content element the user will see following the user requesting the URL. This element is usually a video or image.
- First Input Delay (FIP): The amount of time between your user interacting with your site, such as when they click the link, and the browser responding to that interaction.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): A measure of a website’s stability, which determines if a website is performing in a way the user expects.
How can I check my page speed?
Google has launched a page speed score checker, which uses a traffic light system to show a web page’s performance.
When you click the link, you’ll see a few of the core web vitals we’ve just mentioned, but the number you really want to focus on is the overall performance score at the bottom of the page.
Ideally, you want a score of 100, but any number above 90 is considered excellent and means your website likely ranks high on Google.
Why has Google placed so much emphasis on page speed?
Google wants to deliver the ultimate web experience to its users and lightning-fast page load times are a critical part of achieving this. In fact, research shows that page load times must be less than 100 milliseconds to provide a good user experience.
This is because it takes the human retina roughly 80 milliseconds to register an image in the visual cortex. Any longer than that, and we start to realise that there’s a lag between requesting a web page and it loading.
These lags are bad for business – both Google’s and yours. The company’s research found that page load times slower than the blink of an eye – about 400 milliseconds – can frustrate users to the point that they actually use Google less.
Naturally, then, Google has started prioritising websites and pages that load as quickly as possible, meaning those businesses that have invested in page speed optimisation are ranking far higher than their competitors.
How page speed impacts your business
Your page speed is vital to growing your business in more ways than one. As we’ve covered, it greatly impacts your organic search ranking. As well as this, page speed directly correlates with improved revenue.
We’ve all felt the frustration of waiting what feels like forever for a page to load – and then probably given up our search! If your website isn’t fast enough, the same could happen to you. In fact, one in four of us will abandon a website if it takes more than four seconds to load.
In this sense, your page speed can make or break your business. It can either be a competitive differentiator or the reason for lost leads. In line with this, Deloitte’s research into e-commerce found that for every 0.1-second improvement in website speed, retail consumers spent almost 10% more.
What factors impact my score?
Numerous factors impact a web page’s speed. Image sizes and formats, animations, videos and your choice of hosting service can all increase overload time.
For example, MP4 and GIF formats offer larger file sizes compared to flat image options like PNG and JPEG. This, in turn, leads to slower downloads and more data consumption, which hampers your page speed score. This is dependent on the functionality/media you want on your website and whether it is a sacrifice of value to your brand.
Page builders like Elementor and SeedProd are also notorious for hampering page speed. While these tools make it easier for non-technical employees to build websites, they also typically involve endless streams of unnecessary code that effectively weigh down your website, leading to lags and a slower user experience.
How can I improve my score?
The most important principle for effective page speed optimisation is to ensure you consider website performance from the very beginning. Attempting to retrofit performance optimisation plugins and other tweaks simply won’t have the desired effect on your page load time.
From there, you have two options: a finely-tuned, well-optimised page builder or a unique, lightning-fast custom-built website. The route you go down will depend on your budget and how well your competitors’ page speed scores.
If companies in your sector are already optimising their pages, you can’t really afford to opt for a page builder, even if it’s optimised. This is because Google’s metrics always favour custom-built websites.
With custom-built websites, your developers will use advanced custom fields and coding to develop a beautiful website that loads in less than a blink of an eye.
While this avenue is initially more expensive, speed and time really do equal money online. A fast, optimised website will catapult your SEO ranking and drive business growth in the long term.
Are you ready to supercharge your website speed? Contact us today