One second of extra load time can result in a 32% increase in bounce rates, according to Google.
The highest-rated e-commerce websites all offer pages that load within two seconds. Almost 70% of consumers state that page speed affects their willingness to buy from a site.
This article asks how important is page speed for SEO and how can you improve your site’s load times.
Discover why page speed forms the basis of Core Web Vitals which Google uses to rank its SERPs. Learn how to measure your pages’ performance and how to speed up page load times.
Read on to improve your SEO rankings and stay ahead of your competition.
Does Page Speed Affect SEO?
Enter your website’s main keyword in Google Search and visit the top three results.
Notice that they load within seconds. They don’t take an age to become responsive. And the content doesn’t shift around the page when you try to read it.
Google made an announcement last year that confirmed how the search engine company feels about page speed and SEO.
The Page Experience update finally rolled out in June 2021 and focussed on four SEO factors:
- Core Web Vitals
- Intrusive interstitial adverts
The last three relate to security and providing users with a great experience (UX). However, the most important category is Core Web Vitals (CWV). And those signals measure web page speeds.
How Important Is Page Speed for SEO?
Google has used page speed loading times and responsiveness in its algorithms since 2010.
As self-proclaimed speed obsessives, Google wants every site to appear and work in the shortest time possible. The company’s own internal tests prove that users prefer faster sites.
Speed improves UX but also reduces operating costs and delivers higher revenues.
Those that rank high on Google due to delivering a fast-loading experience will see increased sales. Better user experience will lead to happier customers who in turn are more likely to purchase.
However, page relevancy and fresh high-quality content remain at the top of Google’s ranking priorities.
What Is a Good Rate for Page Speed SEO?
How does Google measure page speed? What makes one website faster than the next? Does it all come down to optimizing images or is there more to it?
Google has created a set of standards that measure user experience. These signals called Web Vitals provide unified guidance when it comes to page quality.
Website owners and developers no longer have to guess how Google perceives their site. They can test their pages and view the results just as Google Search does.
Chief amongst these signals are the Core Web Vitals.
Core Web Vitals
Core Web Vitals apply to all web pages and are used across all of Google’s tools. They offer a consistent way to measure a real-life user’s experience. Especially when it comes to page speed.
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
This signal measures a page’s loading performance. It checks how long the largest image or text element block takes to appear on the screen.
Google advises web developers to have LCP occur within 2.5 seconds of when the page begins to load.
First Input Delay (FID)
This signal checks interactivity and Google offers an FID of 100 milliseconds or less as a good score.
Interactivity is especially important on a phone or tablet. Tapping on the screen with no impact will frustrate the user.
Lowering that delay will not only improve SEO but also reduce bounce rates.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Everyone hates a site with shifting elements, especially as adverts and images load. An unexpected change in the layout can cause havoc when the user clicks or taps on a link.
CLS measures visual stability or how long it takes for the page to settle. Aim for a score of 0.1 or less.
But how do you measure these vitals? Are there free tools available or do you need to pay?
Website Page Speed Test
The good news is that several excellent tools exist that measure Core Web Vitals and page speeds.
Google offers these services for free:
- Google PageSpeed Insights – analyzes page content and offers suggestions
- Web.dev Measure – measures page quality including CWV
- Google Console – stats on all web page metrics
Google Chrome users can also tap into the Lighthouse developer tool.
Lighthouse identifies common site performance problems. It also checks for accessibility and UX issues and offers fixes.
Windows users can press F12 to open the developer panel. Scroll the tabs at the top until you see Lighthouse. Then press Generate Report to start the free audit.
You can use other excellent free SEO audit tools online to measure your website’s speed. Simply click to learn more here.
How to Speed up Page Load Times
The tests show that your website is slow. How can you fix those issues and improve your SEO?
Here are three ways to reduce page loading times.
1. Use a Better Web Host Provider
The first place to start is your current web host.
Slow web servers produce slow web page delivery. Trying to run an e-commerce site on a shared hosting platform, for example, will drag down performance.
Research the best host for your needs and pay a little more for better results.
2. CDN and Cache Plugins
A Content Delivery Network or CDN caches or holds a copy of your website content. These servers are spread across the world and deliver optimized images, etc. at lightning speed.
WordPress users should also use a reliable cache plugin to enhance page performance.
3. Reduce HTTP Requests
Every element on your site sends a request to the server to load content. The more scripts, CSS files, and images you have the more HTTP trips.
More SEO Advice on How Much Does Page Speed Matter
How important is page speed for SEO?
The Core Web Vitals update in 2021 is a clear indicator as to how Google views page loading times. Sites with slow loading images and scripts will see their rankings fall. Those that offer fast interactive pages with unique content will have their position enhanced.
Page speed SEO metrics are here to stay. Improving your performance will improve your bottom line. Read more about how to speed up page load times in our marketing and technology sections.