Does Website Speed Boost SEO?
There’s no doubt that page speed plays an integral part in attracting visitors to your site and converting them into customers. After all, your website will be many, if not most, people’s initial encounter with your business, and slow-loading pages are not a way to make a great first impression.
But, the key question we’ll be answering today is: Is there a connection between page speed and SEO? And, if so, can increasing your website’s speed improve its search engine ranking?
What Is Page Speed?
Page speed is a measure of how quickly a website page loads when a visitor accesses its URL. It’s determined by several different factors, including the page’s file size, the number of resources it has to load and the order in which it does so, and the server on which the site is stored.
Page speed can be measured in several different ways, including:
- Time to First Byte. How long it takes for a page to start the loading process.
- First Meaningful Paint. Also known as first contextual paint, this is when it takes a page to load enough content for a user to begin interacting with the site.
- Fully Loaded Page. How long it takes for a page to load completely.
Is Page Speed Still Important For SEO In 2021?
In short: yes, it 100% is.
The main reason for this is the effect page speed has on a site’s bounce rate, i.e., how often a user only visits a single page before hitting back on their browser and returning to their search results.
High bounce rates reflect a user’s tendency not to hang around waiting for a page to load, especially if they visit a site for the first time. In fact, according to research conducted by one of Botify’s partners, Contentsquare, 50% of visitors leave a site after only viewing a single page.
Worse still, for every 100 milliseconds it takes a page to load, its conversion rate falls by 7%. So, the higher your bounce rate, the poorer the reflection on your website, as search engines perceive it as irrelevant to the user’s search term, which harms your ranking.
In contrast, the lower your bounce rate and the longer a user spends on a page, the better it is for your SEO. The longer their visit, the stronger the signals to search engines that your website is relevant to the user’s search term. This is often referred to as the ‘long click’ and boosts your search rankings and aids your SEO efforts.
Google’s Core Web Vitals: A Growing Emphasis On User Experience (UX)
Core Web Vitals, launched in June this year, are metrics that Google uses to rank web pages. They are designed to measure a user’s page experience: what happens when someone lands on one of your pages.
The page experience update and the introduction of CWV mean that strategies that revolve around keywords and backlinks, which are often manipulated, will no longer be enough to boost a sites’ SEO. Google isn’t just looking at a page’s relevance but its usability as well.
Core Web Vitals measure three parameters, each with its corresponding metric:
- Loading Experience. Measured by Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), this is how quickly the essential information on a web page loads.
- Interactivity. Measured by First Input Delay (FID), this is your page’s responsiveness and navigability. If your page is unintuitive, difficult to navigate, and contains broken links, this will harm its ranking.
- Visual Stability. Measured by Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), this is the stability of a page’s layout. In other words, do elements, such as text fields and buttons, move around on the screen while the page is loading — and how often?
The higher each of these parameters is, the better a user’s experience on your page and the higher Google will rank it. Your website’s loading time influences all three Core Web Vitals, so the higher your page speed, the better your SEO will be.
Although page speed being an essential part of SEO is nothing new, CVW marks a definite and public shift towards Google’s emphasis on user experience when ranking webpages – punctuated by announcing their update over a year in advance.
4 Tips To Speed Up Your Website And Improve SEO
Here are 4 of the most effective ways to increase your website’s speed and improve its SEO in the process.
Many site owners will unknowingly upload images at their maximum size, negatively impacting their page speed and SEO in the process. Fortunately, it’s easy to compress images to reduce their size, so this is often the lowest-hanging fruit when it comes to increasing your website’s speed.
In addition, Jellyfish, one of Botify’s partners, also recommends the use of lazy loading for increasing page speed, which prevents images from being rendered until the user scrolls down to them.
Tidy Up Your Code
Cleaning up your website’s source code is a great way to minimize the file size of each page and boost your website speed. The simplest way to achieve this is to delete code leftover from site features you no longer use/need. Alternatively, you could hire a developer to ‘minify’ your code and make it more efficient.
Upgrade Your Hosting
Review your current hosting setup and upgrade your package, if possible, so your website is stored on a server where it’s not competing with other sites for bandwidth. This could include virtual private hosting, dedicated hosting, or even implementing a content delivery network (CDN).
Reduce The Number Of Redirects
Each time your pages redirect to the latest version of a page or a region-specific page, it decreases a page’s loading speed. Carrying out an audit of your redirects and removing unnecessary ones is an effective way to increase your website speed.
Optimizing Page Speed For Mobile Devices
More than half of all web traffic worldwide is carried out on mobile. It’s a no-brainer that your website should load quickly on desktop and mobile devices.
While the five tips above will increase your website speed on mobile devices and desktops, the ultimate way to boost your page speed on mobile is to design your site to be mobile-responsive.
When your website has a responsive design, it’s optimized for the device the user is viewing it on. This ensures your pages display correctly, load faster, and can be appropriately navigated – all of which increase your site’s usability and improve its SEO.
The original method of optimizing a website for mobile devices was to have a mobile version of a site displayed by the server when it detects the user is on a mobile device. While this technique is still widely employed, Google shows ranking preference to sites with mobile-responsive designs.
To learn more about boosting your website’s organic reach and reap the rewards of increased traffic, qualified leads, conversions, and sales, follow Botify’s blog.