Page speed is an important aspect of SEO.
If your website takes too long to load, you will lose visitors.
In this post, we will discuss ways to improve your site loading time and boost your SEO ranking.
- What is Page Speed?
- Page Speed Concepts
- Why Is Page Speed Important for SEO?
- What is Google Recommended Page Load Time?
- How To Measure Page Speed?
- How to Improve Your Page Speed?
What Is Page Speed?
Page speed is the amount of time it takes for a webpage to load.
A fast page load time is essential for two reasons:
- Users are more likely to stay on a website that loads quickly
- Search engines take page speed into account when determining SEO rankings
This means that if your website is slow, you could be losing visitors and positions in SERPs.
In fact, with PageSpeed industry benchmarks, Google found out that as page load goes up, the probability of bounce increases dramatically:
Page Speed Concepts
There are several concepts that are important to understand when it comes to page speed.
- Fully Loaded Page
- Time to First Byte
- First Contentful Paint
- DOMContentLoaded (DCL)
Each of these concepts will be discussed in more detail below.
Fully Loaded Page
The fully loaded page is the amount of time it takes for all assets on a webpage to load.
Time to First Byte
Time to first byte is the amount of time it takes for the server to send the first byte of data after receiving a request.
Research showed that Google may consider time to first byte when measuring page speed.
First Contentful Paint (FCP)
First contentful paint is the amount of time it takes for the browser to render some meaningful content on the screen.
This could be an image, text, or anything else that is visible to users.
DOMContentLoaded is the amount of time it takes for the browser to parse the HTML document and create a DOM tree.
This is important because it determines when users can interact with the page.
Why Is Page Speed Important for SEO?
Google is using page speed as a ranking factor since 2010:
Then, in 2018, Google introduced the “Speed Update“, which includes page speed as a ranking factor for mobile searches:
This means that if your website loads slowly, you could be losing positions in SERPs and your chances to be included in voice search results.
In addition, users are more likely to leave a website that takes too long to load.
This increases your bounce rate and decreases the amount of time visitors spend on your site.
Both of these factors will negatively impact your SEO ranking.
To sum it up, page speed is important for SEO because it impacts both user experience and search engine rankings.
What Is Google Recommended Page Load Time?
Google recommends that pages should load in two seconds or less (server response time):
In a recent analysis of 5.2 million pages, Backlinko found out that:
The average desktop Time to First Byte (TTFB) speed is 1.286 seconds on desktop and 2.594 seconds on mobile.
The average time it takes to fully load a webpage is 10.3 seconds on desktop and 27.3 seconds on mobile.
In another research by Portent, they have proven that page speed is directly related to conversion rates.
The bottom line is that the ideal page load time is from 0 to 2 seconds:
In short, you want your site to load as fast as possible, for:
- Better search engine rankings
- Improved user experience
- Increased conversion rates.
How To Measure Page Speed?
There are several tools that you can use to measure your site loading time.
Each of these tools will give you a different score. They also offer different insights and recommendations.
You may want to use multiple tools to get a comprehensive understanding of your website’s page speed.
Google PageSpeed Insights
Google PageSpeed Insights is a free tool that gives you a score from 0-100.
It also provides insights and recommendations on how to improve the loading time of your web pages.
For example, I analyzed my core web vitals article:
A good score should be 90 or more.
The analysis will give you all the necessary information to improve any score you received, including opportunities:
Diagnostics and passed audits:
You can read the full documentation of how to use the tool here.
GTmetrix is another free tool that measures your site loading time.
It gives you a grade from E to A, as well as insights and recommendations.
I tested the same article I used for the PageSpeed Insights test and this is the result:
In the “Summary” tab, you can find the “Speed visualization“.
It is an interval capture of your page load, with the key performance metrics overlaid on the page timeline.
It gives you deeper insights into your visitor’s experience by providing more context on the performance metrics in relation to your page load:
In the “Performance” tab, you can find the “Performance metrics” (which have been generated using Lighthouse Performance data):
Here‘s everything you need to know to understand the GTmetrix report (which is now powered by Lighthouse).
WebPageTest is another freemium tool that measures page speed.
Here’s the result for my core web vitals article:
It provides insights and recommendations to improve the loading time of your pages.
How To Improve Your Page Speed?
There are several ways to improve your page speed.
Let’s see the most effective ones:
- Optimizing images
- Enabling compression
- Reducing redirects
- Leveraging browser caching
- Upgrade hosting
Each of these methods will be discussed in more detail below.
This means removing any unnecessary code, such as whitespace or comments.
It also means minifying the code, which is the process of reducing the file size.
You can do this manually or with a tool like Gulp or Grunt.
Another way to improve your page speed is to optimize your images.
This means reducing the file size of the image without losing quality.
There are several ways to do this, including using an online tool like TinyPNG or JPEGmini.
Enabling compression is another way to improve your page speed.
You can enable compression with a tool like Gzip or Brotli.
Reducing redirects is another way to improve your page speed.
A redirect is when a user is taken from one URL to another.
This can add time to the page load time.
You can reduce redirects by simplifying your URL structure and eliminating unnecessary redirects (check HTTP status codes here).
Leveraging Browser Caching
Leveraging browser caching is another way to improve your page speed.
Browser caching stores static files on a user’s computer so that they don’t have to be downloaded each time they visit a website.
You can leverage browser caching by setting cache expiration times and using a tool like CloudFlare.
If you have done all of the above and your page speed still isn’t where you want it to be, you may need to upgrade your hosting plan.
This is because your website loading time is also affected by the server response.
A faster server will result in a faster page load time.
In conclusion, page speed is important for SEO because it impacts both user experience and search engine rankings.
What are some of the other ways you are using?
Let me know in the comments below!
And please share the post, if you liked it!
Thanks for reading!
Paul Lamont says
Page speed improvements have always been a challenge for me, balancing everything to get the functionality needed along with the speed. This has been very helpful!
Erik Emanuelli says
based on my experience, the hosting service you pick makes a big difference.
Other than that, a fast responsive theme and image optimization.
Thanks for your positive feedback!
Ryan Biddulph says
Literally Erik, minus a few sleeping hours I spent 18 hours increasing page speed. I deleted underperforming content, images no longer used and irrelevant comments. Big difference. Fabulous blog post.
Erik Emanuelli says
I see a big improvement in your site loading time, Ryan.