If you want to take your website’s SEO to the next level, page speed optimization is the easiest way forward.
After all, how many times have you felt frustrated because the pages of a website were not loading quickly enough? You might even have quit the website because you were getting too impatient to wait.
If a low page loading speed is causing you to abandon a web page, why would your website visitors be any different?
Findings by Neil Patel reveal that a 3 seconds delay in page loading can cause a quarter of your website visitors to click away.
Page speed optimization is not just needed to reduce your website’s bounce rate. A study by Walmart revealed that it can affect your conversion rate too— for every second of increased page speed, there was a 2% increase in conversion.
If all these numbers are not convincing enough, how about the fact that optimizing your page speed is also essential for your website’s SEO?
With so many benefits of page speed optimization, what is stopping you from making the most of this ranking factor?
What is Page Speed?
To put it simply, page speed is the rate at which the content of your website loads. It is affected by all the components of your website, whether it is something as broad as your hosting service, or as small as the size of a picture.
An important point to keep in mind is to not confuse page speed with site speed. While both of these affect how Google ranks your website, they are two slightly different concepts.
Page speed is the speed taken to load the content of a particular web page. On the other hand, site speed is the average time taken in loading different web pages when a visitor browses your website.
Hence, if you focus on page speed for the different web pages, your site speed would be optimized automatically.
What Is the Importance of Page Speed Optimization for SEO?
Over the years, we have seen a shifting trend in the ranking factors used by the Google algorithm.
Keyword stuffing might have ranked a website well in the early days of SEO. But today, the algorithm focuses more on user experiences.
This is exactly why page speed optimization is so crucial.
A web page that is not making you wait too long is providing a good experience to its visitors.
Hence, it is no surprise that Google has been considering page speed as a ranking factor for websites since 2010.
In fact, page speed optimization has become so important that Google is now using it as a ranking factor for mobile browsing too! As of 2018, a website’s page speed influences its ranking for both desktop and mobile devices.
These changes are natural considering the growing number of people who use mobile devices to browse the internet. It is also why mobile-friendly websites are so much more important today.
How Does Google Measure Page Speed?
There are several different ways of measuring page speed
Based on the factors analyzed by Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool, the following are some of the metrics Google might be considering:
First Contentful Paint (FCP)
This is the loading time taken by the web page to render the initial bits of content defined in its Document Object Model (DOM). This content is important because it gives the page visitor some amount of resources to interact with, leading to a lower bounce rate.
It also forms a part of the Core Web Vitals considered by the Google algorithm.
Fully Loaded Page
This is the time taken for the entire web page with all of its content to be rendered. It is the simplest way of measuring your website’s page loading speed.
Time to First Byte
Time to First Byte is the amount of time taken by your website’s server to respond. It is the delay between an HTTP request being made by a user’s action and the first byte of the page that is received by the user’s browser.
How Do I Carry Out Page Speed Optimization?
For beginners in SEO, the best way to carry out page speed optimization is to follow the suggestions made by Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.
The tool does not just consider the metrics we listed above. It also provides you with an analysis of your website’s Core Web Vitals so that you can improve the overall user experience offered.
Even better, the analysis is provided separately for both the desktop and mobile versions of your website. This way you can ensure that you make the best of both worlds.
Apart from using Google’s tool for guidance, here are the top 3 improvements you can make to carry out effective page speed optimization:
Checking Your Web Hosting
The most basic factor that might be bringing your page loading speed down is the web hosting service you use. Factors such as your server’s RAM and bandwidth can have a significant effect on your website’s page speed. In fact, findings by Kinsta suggest that unsatisfactory web hosting is one of the leading reasons that contribute to slow page loading speeds.
Almost all web pages consist of at least one image, if not more. However, what most of us do not realize is that images can be very influential on your website’s page loading speed. The best way to minimize their effect is to compress them.
The code that goes into your website can also hurt its page speed. In fact, CSS files are render-blocking. This means that their processing is prioritized because of their critical nature. This can hamper the time taken to render a web page, and thus bring down your website’s page loading speed.
Page Speed Optimization is Absolutely Crucial
There is no doubt that page speed optimization and SEO are very closely tied.
While page speed optimization alone will not get your content ranked at the first position, ignoring it can bring your ranking down.
As Google prioritizes more and more on user experience, page speed optimization will only gain importance in the coming years.
And wouldn’t your website visitors love you more for a quick page loading speed too?