Page speed recently became a significant ranking factor in SEO, making it more important than ever before. Many will have to put their site under a magnifying glass to make sure their ranking doesn’t drop in the following months. The Google Page Experience update launched in June 2021, and from that moment onwards, metrics such as visual stability, site loading speed, and mobile responsiveness are have become vital. If you haven’t heard of this update before and don’t know what it entails, make sure to get more acquainted with the topic here.
In light of these new changes, understanding these elements of your page as well as optimising them will soon become crucial for website owners. So what can you do about it?
In this article, you’ll learn just about everything you need to know in short, so grab a pen, keep reading, and ensure the future success of your site on the SERPs.
What is Page Speed?
While this might seem all too easy of a question, page speed is often confused with site speed, and these two, while similar, are very far from being the same thing. In a nutshell, site speed represents the average loading time of a few sample pages on a website, while page speed is the amount of time it takes for a browser to receive the initial batch of information from your server, aka. how long it takes to display all of the content contained on a single page.
How Page Speed Affects SEO and Its Importance for Your Site
The most apparent impact of page speed on SEO is that slow loading speed is detrimental to user experience, and hence it increases your bounce rate and lowers conversions. No user wants to wait an eternity for the content they’re after to load, especially when they can probably just find the answer somewhere else much faster. According to data provided by skilled.co, pages that load in 2.4 seconds or less had an average conversion rate of 1.9%, while pages that take over 5 seconds to load had only an average conversion rate of 0.6%. Google likes web pages that users like; it’s really that simple.
Just like site owners, web browsers try to provide their users with the best experience possible, and if your load speed is bad, you’re just not providing a good experience. Every search engine takes site loading speed as a ranking factor, and now with the new Google update, it’s more important than ever before, so don’t ignore it and act quickly.
How to Analyse Your Page Speed
One of the best tools to use to check your page speed is Google Lighthouse. This is a comprehensive tool that can show you how your page is doing across various metrics. The only downside to it is that tests can be run on only one page at a time, and everything has to be saved manually, but besides that, this is your golden ticket for understanding what works and what doesn’t. To run the analysis, you can either use Lighthouse in Chrome DevTools or navigate to PageSpeed Insights to do it straight from the browser. Then, just paste the URL into the text box, and that’s it.
There are four basic metrics this tool uses to analyse your page: First Contentful Paint (FCP), Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). All of them are scored from 0 to 100, and depending on the page’s speed, you’ll get either a great or a bad result.
To help your site get a good score across the board, these are the results you should be getting:
|Good Result||Bad Result|
|FCP||Under 1.8 seconds||3+ seconds|
|LCP||Under 2.5 seconds||4+ seconds|
|FID||Under 100 milliseconds||300+ milliseconds|
|CLS||Below 0,1||Above 0.25|
How to Improve Page Speed and SEO
Now that you know just how important this is, how much it affects your SEO as well as how to analyse it, you should also know how to improve it.
Reduce the Number of Redirects
Each time a user is redirected to another page, they face additional loading times while waiting for the HTTP redirect requests to be completed. That means that having multiple redirects requests is rather taxing when it comes to loading speeds, as it uses up more of the browser’s resources and is hence slower to load.
This problem can be handled manually, but it can be a rather tedious process, so acquiring a tool like WP 301 Redirects might help you get a handle on it quicker. It can automate all of your redirections and catch any typos in the URL a user might make, correct them, and make sure they end up in the right place no matter what.
Enable Gzip Compression
Be sure that the images are not too large and are of the appropriate size. A full-size featured image should be no larger than 400KB, and in-content images should all be under 200KB. Another important factor is the image format, and it’s usually recommended to use PNG for graphics and JPEG for photographs. There are tools you can use for image compression, but this is not a must. If you do choose to DIY it, make sure the images are not too big, that you’re naming them correctly, and be mindful of the alt text as those are the most critical factors.
Use a CDN
Short for content distribution networks and often referred to as content delivery networks, these can result in a massive decrease in loading times. In essence, they are used to store copies of your site in multiple locations that are geographically closer to some of your users than your own servers or your host. So, when using a CDN, your visitors can access the site much faster regardless of their location.
Update Plugins and Clean Your Database
Assuming that everything is done properly, plugins should not interfere with the loading speed. However, sometimes if a plugin hasn’t been updated in a while, or there are too many heavy-duty ones on the site, they can interfere. Some plugins make database calls in the backend and other load assets on the frontend. Making those database queries and loading those assets can affect your loading times, especially in the aforementioned situations.
With some coding knowledge and a substantial amount of free time on your hands, you could probably take care of this yourself. But, there are easier ways to go about it. The first thing to do is get a caching plugin, and the second is to use a tool like WP Reset. This tool takes automatic database snapshots of your site, so you can restore it back to its previous working state should something go wrong with a plugin. Even in case of disaster, there’s always the Emergency Recovery Script that can save you even if the situation seems hopeless and you’ve encountered the white screen of death while messing about with your plugins. You can also use WP Reset to bulk install, update or uninstall plugins, so it’s very versatile in this regard.
Ready for Rocket Speed
Considering the importance of Google’s new update, no site owner can afford themselves the luxury of putting page loading speed on the sidelines. So make sure to utilise all of the information from this article in improving yours. Analyse your speed and take all the steps necessary to make it the best it can be to ensure you won’t experience a fall in ranking, but a rise instead.