What is Page Speed & Why Does Speed Matter for SEO?

What is page load speed?

When it comes to webpages, load speed is everything. Page load speed is the time it takes for a page to display fully on a user's screen. This metric is essential for two reasons: first, because it directly impacts the user experience (nobody wants to wait around for a slow website), and second, because Google considers it when ranking pages in search results. Page load speed affects a website's search engine ranking, click-through rate, conversion rate, and user experience. Faster websites have higher search engine rankings and tend to get more traffic. They also have higher click-through rates and conversion rates.

Why does website page speed matter for SEO?

When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), website page speed is essential for several reasons:

  1. Faster pages have a lower bounce rate, meaning people are likelier to stick around and engage with your content.
  2. Fast pages load quicker on mobile devices, which is essential since more and more people are using their phones and tablets to surf the web.
  3. Google has stated that page speed is a ranking factor in its search algorithm. If you want your site to rank higher in the Search Engine Ranking Position (SERPs), you must make sure your pages are loading quickly.

What factors affect site speed?

Page speed has been a ranking factor for desktop searches since 2010, and starting in 2018, it is also a ranking factor for mobile searches.

Many factors affect site speed, including:

  • The size of the files that make up the page
  • The number of files that need to be loaded
  • The server speed
  • The code quality
  • The amount of traffic on the site

Some of these factors are within the website owner's control, while others are not. For example, not much can be done about server speed or code quality if you are using someone else's hosting service or platform.

How quickly should your web page load?

A web page should load quickly to keep visitors engaged. If a web page takes too long to load, visitors may leave before it finishes loading. So, what is a good page speed? It would be best to have a page load time of two seconds or less. Anything slower than that can hurt your business. People are impatient. If they wait more than a few seconds for your page to load, they will likely give up and go elsewhere. Studies have shown that if a page takes longer than three seconds to load, 40% of visitors will abandon it.

It's not just about providing a good user experience; it's also a ranking factor for search engines like Google. In other words, if your pages are slow, you could be missing out on valuable traffic and potential customers. Google penalizes your search engine ranking position for slow page speed because it wants to provide the best possible user experience. Users search for something on Google and expect to find the most relevant results as quickly as possible. If your website is slow, it frustrates users and makes them less likely to continue using Google. To keep users happy, Google punishes websites with slow page speed by giving them lower rankings.

Search engines do penalize your website if it takes too long to load.

Mobile page speed vs desktop page speed.

The only difference between Google PageSpeed Insights mobile vs. desktop is the score you can get. Getting a good PageSpeed mobile score is more complicated than achieving the same score on a desktop. It's because the connection on mobile is slower. Simple as that.

Page speed tools simulate a slower connection to the internet to replicate real-world scenarios. Therefore, comparing the mobile score to the desktop-grade is unfair. The desktop connection will always be faster.

Use Google's PageSpeed Insights to monitor/measure their website speed.

To ensure their website runs as efficiently as possible, developers must measure its speed. We use Google's PageSpeed Insights tool. Google's PageSpeed Insight tool is a free online app that provides website owners with valuable insights into the speed of their websites. The tool analyzes metrics to identify areas where your website could be improved.

The PageSpeed Insight tool provides actionable recommendations for improving a website's speed. The recommendations are based on best practices from the PageSpeed Insights team and Google's research.

There are a few noteworthy metrics.

Time to First Byte (TTFB)

Time to First Byte (TTFB) is a foundational metric for measuring connection setup time and web server responsiveness in the lab and the field. It helps identify when a web server is too slow to respond to requests. In the case of navigation requests—that is, requests for an HTML document—precede every other meaningful loading performance metric.

First Contentful Paint (FCP)

First Contentful Paint (FCP) is an important, user-centric metric for measuring perceived load speed because it marks the first point in the page load timeline where the user can see anything on the screen—a fast FCP helps reassure the user that something is happening.

Speed Index (SI)

Speed Index (SI) is a page load performance metric that shows you how quickly the contents of a page are visibly populated. It is the average time visible parts of the page are displayed. Expressed in milliseconds and dependent on the size of the viewport, the lower the score, the better.

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) is one of the three Core Web Vitals metrics, representing how quickly a web page's primary content is loaded. LCP measures the time from when the user initiates loading the page until the largest image or text block is rendered within the viewport.

Time to Interactive (TTI)

Time to Interactive (TTI) is a crucial lab metric for measuring load responsiveness. It helps identify cases where a page looks interactive but isn't. A fast TTI helps ensure that the page is usable.

Total Blocking Time (TBT)

Total Blocking Time (TBT) is a critical lab metric for measuring load responsiveness because it helps quantify the severity of how non-interactive a page is before it becomes reliably interactive—a low TBT helps ensure that the page is usable.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) is an important, user-centric metric for measuring visual stability because it helps quantify how often users experience unexpected layout shifts—a low CLS helps ensure that the page is delightful.

What Honest Web Designs do to increase page speed loading times

We take speed seriously. Our small business subscription websites are built from the ground up with speed in mind. Our Small Business Subscription Websites are static websites built using a static site generator. A static website is made entirely in HTML and CSS. It does not use any server-side scripting language, like PHP or ASP.net. A static website is typically faster to load and easier to design and maintain than a dynamic website.

A static site generator is a tool that uses our custom templates and compiles all the website pages in HTML, CSS, and Javascript. We take these files and upload them to our web servers. All the web servers need to do is serve the pages, and since these pages a pre-built, they load much quicker than a website built with WordPress or other content management systems. Static site generators are an alternative to content management systems (CMS). In my over 20 years of experience, I honestly feel a CMS is overkill for most small business websites. We build our sites this way so the speed of your website can be as fast as possible.

We also improve page speed by

  1. Optimize your images by reducing their file size.
  2. Minimize the number of HTTP requests your page makes.
  3. Use a content delivery network (CDN) to deliver your content faster if necessary.
  4. Enable browser caching so visitors don't have to download the same files whenever they visit your site.
  5. Lazy load images, so we only download what the user needs.

There are plenty of ways to improve your page speed, and we do everything we can to ensure our client's websites are fast.