Page Speed, Load Time or Page Loading Speed – all essentially mean very similar things. If your website pages are not loading fast enough, it is likely having a negative effect on your SEO rankings. There are a number of reasons why this may be happening and in this article we discuss what page speed, why it’s important and offer tips on how to improve it.
What is page speed?
When we talk about page speed, this refers to the length of time it takes for an individual web page to fully load.
However, Google doesn’t assess the page as the whole, instead, breaking the page down into separate sections, with each one given its own ranking:
- First Contentful Paint (FCP): Time taken to draw the first image or text in the browser
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): The length of time taken after the first block of text or large image is painted
- First Input Delay (FID): Time taken between first input from the visitor to the browser’s response
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): How long it takes the browser to stop moving page elements around
Each of these have to optimised individually in order to maximise page speed. You can review these via Pagespeed Insights on Google Developers and the Google Search Console.
Why is speed important for SEO?
As one of many factors used to rank SEO, Google also takes page speed into consideration. The length of time it takes for the page to load will have an impact on things such as:
- Search engine ranking: Slow loading times will potentially downgrade your ranking and the ability for people to find you via search engine enquiries
- Bounce rate: The longer the page takes to the load, the more likely it is they will leave and go elsewhere
- Conversation rate: Slow page speeds will affect customer’s confidence in your brand and their ability to buy the products/services they need
- User experience: People arrive on your site for a reason, and a fast loading page makes it easier to navigate freely and easily.
- Brand reputation: Customers are more likely to question your credibility if pages load slowly as it sends the wrong message
How can you improve page loading times?
There are a number of things you can do to improve page speed, such as:
- Check your web host: Your website will be hosted on a web hosts’ server, so do some research to see if there are faster alternatives available. Hosts with local servers generally tend to be a better option.
- Image optimisation: High-res images can slow down page load times, and compressing them can help. Check your inventory and make the necessary changes based on recommended upload size.
- Clean up code: An experienced web designer/developer will be able to spot and ‘clean up’ any unnecessary code that could be slowing down page speed.
- Browser caching: A web designer/developer may also be able to do browser caching, which will improve communication between servers and subsequently increase web page loading times.
UPDATE – for more information see our latest Longer Read article “Google’s Core Web Vitals and what it means for your website“.