How Important Is Page Speed For SEO?

Featured image showing a rocket to symbolise page speed for our post on How Important Is Page Speed For SEO

This post was written by Jordan Farrar

Jordan is an accomplished Digital Marketer leading the team at akoca. Continuously enhancing his knowledge through industry updates and best practices, Jordan delivers top-tier solutions for clients. Within akoca, he oversees and guides various projects with his extensive knowledge and expertise. In addition, he's host for Abingdon’s Buzz local networking group, establishing solid connections with fellow businesses.
27 Feb, 2023
Featured image showing a rocket to symbolise page speed for our post on How Important Is Page Speed For SEO

Page speed is one of many crucial factors in improving the user experience and SEO rankings of your website.

However, many website owners tend to overlook this aspect while focusing on other areas.

In this post, we’ll explore the question ” How Important Is Page Speed For SEO? ” and explain why improving it should be on every website owners to do list.

We’ll provide you with tips & tools that you can use to improve your own websites page speed. The goal being to ensure your website has the best chance it can, at ranking higher on the search engine results pages (SERPS) while delivering a better experience for your users.

What is page speed?

In order to improve your websites page speed, it’s important to first have a clear understanding of what is involved. So, let’s dive into what exactly page speed is.

Essentially, page speed is the time taken for a web page to completely load. This includes all aspects of the page i.e – copy, images, video and so on. The most common areas you may have come across are:

  1. Time to Interactive: This is the time it takes for a web-page to become fully interactive and responsive to a users input.
  2. Total Blocking Time: Measures the time between FCP and when a user can interact without delays.
  3. First Contentful Paint: This measures how long it takes for the first piece of content to appear on a users screen.
  4. Cumulative Layout Shift: Is a metric that measures how much the page layout shifts during loading.

Though you should aim to get each of these areas up to speed, prioritising them in this order is best when trying to provide a good user experience.

Image of google page speed insights showing LCP, FID, CLS, FCP, INP and TTFC for our post How Important Is Page Speed For SEO?

Why is page speed important?

Page speed is an essential aspect of website optimisation. Good page speed can significantly impact a business’s online presence, build its brand, and enhance its website’s overall SEO efforts. Slow-loading web pages have a higher bounce rate, which could lead to a decrease in conversions and revenue.

On the flip side, faster loading pages provide a better user experience, attract & retain visitors, and increase the likelihood of higher search engine rankings (more on this later). Therefore, focusing on page speed metrics such as First Contentful Paint, Time to Interactive, Total Blocking Time, and Cumulative Layout Shift should be a high priority for any business looking to improve its website’s user experience and SEO.

Why page speed is important for user experience?

When it comes to browsing the internet, users have high expectations for page speed. It’s a well-known fact that users don’t like to wait around for a website to load. No doubt you’ve probably encountered this very problem yourself at some point. Slow loading pages can lead to frustration, impatience, and ultimately, a bad user experience.

In today’s fast-paced world, users expect pages to load quickly and seamlessly, without any hiccups or delays. Hubspot mention in their article on page speeds relation to conversion rates, that just one second in page load time results in conversions dropping by 4.42%.

On a more positive note, a website that loads quickly can lead to a positive user experience. This often results in increased engagement and higher conversions, coupled with this that a fast website helps with reducing bounce rate – having a speedy website is a good thing.

Does site speed affect your SEO performance?

As mentioned, page speed is an essential part of user experience. But how does this tie into your website being found (SEO)?

Page speed has become more important for search engine optimisation (SEO) over the years. In 2010 Google started taking a websites page speed into account for desktop searches. In July 2018, they announced that page speed would become a ranking factor for mobile searches as well.

We already spoke about how when a user visits a website, they expect it to load quickly – if it doesn’t, this increases bounce rate. Though a debated topic, this may negatively impact the website’s ranking in search engine results.

Even though no one knows for sure what Googles algorithm looks for when ranking web pages, we can take an educated guess. With information like this study conducted by Semrush, we can determine that there is a relation between how fast your website loads and your rankings.

Semrush Study

How can I measure my website’s page speed?

By now we’ve established page speed is worth improving. But how can you measure your website’s page speed?

Thankfully, there are several tools available that can help you analyse and optimise your website’s loading speed.

  • Google Page Speed Insights: A popular option, which provides a detailed report on your website’s performance, highlighting areas for improvement.
  • GTmetrix: GTmetrix offers both free and paid versions of its tool.
  • Pingdom: In addition to website speed testing, Pingdom offers uptime monitoring, which alerts website owners if their website goes down.

By running a page speed test, you can identify areas for improvement and ensure that your website is delivering a fast and efficient experience for your users.

How to increase your websites page speed

To give yourself the best chance of getting on Google’s first page, it’s essential to provide your website visitors with a first-rate page speed optimised experience. Meaning that if your website pages have a less than satisfactory speed score, you must undertake some speed optimisation.

Start with good hosting

The first step towards improving your website’s page speed is to ensure you have good hosting. Your hosting provider has a significant impact on your website’s performance. Regardless of how well you complete the upcoming steps, if your hosting is awful, you will struggle to improve your page speed. Look for a host that offers high up-time, fast server response times, and good bandwidth.

Hosts like Siteground, A2 Hosting and Cloudways are all good options but it’ll ultimately come down to your specific needs. We’d suggest avoiding the larger providers like Go Daddy or HostGator.

Optimise your images

Large images can drastically slow down your website’s load time. Fixing this is simple and makes for a relatively easy way to speed up your website. Images come in all sorts of sizes – When taken professionally, they can be used for all manner of different marketing materials (Banners/Posters/Leaflets etc). For our purpose (a speedy website), this is overkill.

You don’t need a 3000 px X 4000 px image sitting on your about page when 300 px X 400 px will do. You can use various online tools to compress your images, such as Imageresizer.

Remove unneeded elements

Unnecessary website features can significantly slow down your site’s loading speed. The features that tend to cause the most trouble are those that require Javascript to load. Even though it might not always be clear whether a feature is using Javascript or not, it’s safe to assume that interactive or animated features likely rely on Javascript in the background.

For instance, adding a background video that auto-plays when someone lands on your website. Although it looks wonderful, it can drastically slow down the time it takes for your website to load – Not good! Consider using a static image instead or give the user control over whether they want to play the video or not. However, it will undoubtedly impact your page loading time, and ultimately, it’s an unnecessary feature.

Install a caching plugin

If you happen to be on WordPress, installing a caching plugin like Litespeed or W3 Total Cache can help you out greatly.

When you cache the pages on your website, your visitors will experience faster load times which lead to a better overall user experience – good stuff.

Deciding on the right caching plugin for your website will require some research. You’ll need to compare features and understand compatibility. For instance, Litespeed Cache is built for websites hosted on Litespeed servers.

Utilise a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Diagram of a CDN showing world map and servers across the map

A CDN or Content Delivery Network is essential a number of servers located all over the world set up to deliver web content faster and more efficiently.

It achieves this by caching the web page and serving it from the server closest to the user. Extremely useful if your an e-commerce website that sells internationally for example.

There are a number of plans and options available so, like the caching plugin, you’ll need to look around. Cloudflare offer a free option which provides most of what you’ll need. If you’re unsure which direction to go, it’s a safe bet going with their free plan.

Final thoughts: How important is website page speed for SEO?

So, to summarize:

Page speed is a crucial factor in improving website user experience and SEO rankings.

Slow-loading web pages have a higher bounce rate, leading to a decrease in conversions and revenue. To measure page speed, there are tools available such as Google Page Speed Insights, GTmetrix, and Pingdom.

Website owners can increase their page speed by ensuring good hosting, optimising images and videos, minimising JavaScript, and using a Cache & Content Delivery Network (CDN).

Getting your website to load faster will provide a better the user experience, which results in higher conversions and better rankings but doing so requires time on your part. If you don’t have the time to implement this, reaching out to a company (like us) may be worth your while. We can implement this on your behalf, saving you time and leaving you to get on with business as usual.

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