Website speed is directly linked to user experience, according to Google’s Core Web Vitals (CWVs). Both factors are important in SEO and if your website takes too long to load, users will leave it, which will of course negatively impact its performance.
How crucial is page speed for SEO? Google states that if your page load time goes from 1 to 3 seconds, the probability of bounce increases by a whopping 32 per cent. Even if your website has a high rank on Google, slow speed will affect it because users will leave before they get a chance to see your products or consume your content.
In this guide to page speed for SEO, I will explain CWVs, the importance of page experience and page speed and how to make your website faster.
Explaining Core Web Vitals
CWVs are a group of metrics that are used to measure user experience for both mobile and desktop users. These metrics include loading speed, page responsiveness and visual stability and are part of technical SEO.
Introduced in 2020, CWVs measure the experience of a website from the user’s perspective through real-world, user-centric metrics. Website owners and those focusing on SEO can use these to monitor usability.
CWVs include three main elements:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): It measures the loading performance of a webpage and accounts specifically for the first 2.5 seconds of its loading.
- First Input Delay (FID): The interactivity between an action and a response of the page is measured by FID.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): This measures the visual stability of the page.
By monitoring and managing CWVs, you can measure both the page experience and usability of your website and make the necessary improvements.
The importance of page experience
To understand the importance of page speed for SEO, it’s good to know why the search engine values page experience. Google uses page experience to understand how its users experience interactions with a web page. The objective is to deliver the best possible results for Google’s search queries.
If the search engine shows pages that are slow, inaccessible, unresponsive or don’t perform optimally on mobile phones, those may not be the ideal results for Google to show its users. Google relies on multiple signals to track page experience. These include:
- Core Web Vitals
- Non-intrusive interstitials
Although page experience is important, Google ranks pages with the best overall information. Even if these sites have subpar page experiences, they will have high rankings. According to the search giant, a great page experience doesn’t overshadow the need for great page content.
But if there are pages with similar content and relevance to users, page experience is an important factor for visibility in search rankings.
Page speed: How is it relevant to page experience and SEO?
As Google has made it clear, if your website has content similar to others, page experience could be the deciding factor in improved search visibility. So, it’s a crucial element that you can control if you want to improve the visibility of your site on the SERPs.
Google understands that pages that load faster satisfy user needs faster. Page speed impacts bounce rate and dwell time and together, they signal how users perceive their experience with a website.
With good page speed, you can improve user experience, increase conversion rates and move up in organic ranking. It will also increase your page views since CLS and LCP affect page ranking.
Faster page load times will also boost conversion. Even a difference of a couple of milliseconds can be the difference between a user performing a desired action or leaving midway.
How to make your website faster
Now that you know the importance of page speed for SEO, these are some of the most effective ways in which you can make your website faster.
Since July 2019, Google has been using the mobile version of websites for ranking and indexing, which makes mobile SEO performance crucial. That’s because most users prefer mobile-first interactions with websites.
Reducing or eliminating pop-ups can make your site mobile-friendly. Next, make sure that the text is divided into short paragraphs for easy readability. Also, your images and any other multimedia content will have to be reformatted for mobile phones.
Have safe and secure browsing
Safe and secure browsing are two crucial elements that will affect page speed. To begin with, use HTTPS to run a safe and secure site. Ensure that all uploads are scanned for any malware, malicious coding, viruses etc.
Your team members should have a safety protocol for not just accessing your website but all online interactions. If Google detects any security issue with your site, it will be flagged and potential visitors will abandon it fast.
Review ad networks
If you run an e-commerce site, blog or marketplace, you may have to display ads to monetise your site. This brings in ad networks that would put their codes on your site. But if the ad network takes too long to load, it will drag down your page speed.
Regularly review the impacts that ad networks have on your website’s speed. Make sure that all third-party elements and plugins are functioning smoothly. Remember that your page experience will be hurt if it’s impacted by an ad network, script or service.
Ensure that interstitials are non-intrusive
While interruptions hurt user experience, they may be needed to meet your marketing goals such as adding subscribers or increasing downloads. But you should ensure that these are minimal and non-intrusive. Reduce the number of pop-ups and interstitials and both your page speed and user experience will improve.
This is particularly relevant for mobile sites since the screen space is limited. If there are too many pop-ups and interstitials, it will be challenging for users to navigate the site and consume your content.
One of the easiest things you can do to improve page speed for SEO is to compress the images on your website. Bigger images translate to longer load times. Compressing them can have a massive impact on how fast your page loads.
You can easily compress images through Photoshop or other software. There are also online compressors where you don’t have to download software to compress images.
Enable browser caching
If users have to load all elements on your page each time they visit it, the page speed will be slow. The solution is to enable browser caching. Allowing users to cache elements that rarely change will ensure these can be quickly displayed when they visit your site.
Browser caching is particularly useful for online stores. Even a millisecond difference can have an impact on page experience and conversion.
The bottom line
Page speed is one of the most important factors to keep in mind when you’re trying to improve your website’s performance and search engine ranking.
If you focus on improving your page speed for SEO, you should see improved customer acquisition, retention and conversion.
Do you need to improve your website’s speed for SEO? Whether you’re a startup, a large corporation, a B2B or a nonprofit, we can work together and improve your digital marketing. Get in touch and say hello today.