Why is website page speed important for SEO?

Website speed has always been an important factor, not only for your website visitors who are looking for a seamless experience when they visit your site, but also in regards to your content ranking in search results.

Website speed is something that you need to take notice of because it has been identified as one of the leading ranking factors in the Core Web Vitals.

The Core Web Vitals update is looking for fast websites as well as a good user experience (UX), so this should be front and centre when looking at optimising your website.

These two ranking factors go hand in hand, because if your website loads quickly and the user can get to where they need to be and surface your content without waiting then it will directly affect their user experience.

If your website is slow – and therefore not providing a good UX – users will look elsewhere, and Google will notice visitors quickly bouncing off your site, which will have a direct impact on rankings.

How do you go about checking the speed of your pages?

Google Page Speed Insights is a great tool, where you can input your chosen URL and run it through a page speed checker to see how fast those pages are.

This tool will show you mobile vs desktop, which is important to differentiate as page speed will differ for both.

Mobile users are accessing your content via a much smaller screen so your content will need to be fully optimised to ensure that their UX is not compromised.

Mobile traffic has been steadily on the increase over the last 10 years and accounts for the majority of global website traffic, so you need to make sure that you’re not alienating this huge segment of consumers (and businesses).

Why is website speed important for Google indexing mobile content?

Google has a smartphone Googlebot, which enables it to crawl mobile website content.

It will crawl it specifically with mobile users in mind to make sure that they’re getting better UX.

URLs are actually prioritised before Googlebot even sees the content, and there’s an overall crawl budget due to the fact that the internet is infinite.

So ideally you need to be making sure your website content is optimised before Google has even had the chance to find it!

Historically, Google used to use desktop content for ranking, however, mobile-first indexing now dictates that Google predominantly uses the mobile version of your content to identify if it is relevant to a user’s query.

This has been the case since July 2019, so making sure your website is optimised for mobile has never been more important.

When you run your website through Google Search Console, there is one issue that you need to take note of in regards to website speed.

That is ‘discovered but not indexed’, which means that Google has noticed the page but hasn’t crawled it yet.

This could be because the crawl budget has already been hit, or it could be that you need to further optimise your page speed and internal linking.

So, is page speed a ranking factor?

At the end of the day, if Google doesn’t index your page then it won’t show in search results, won’t rank and you will lose out on website traffic.

So yes, page speed is a ranking factor, as this directly affects the user experience.

There are a lot of competitors out there for your content, and if users can get the content they need quicker and with a better experience, then they will get the website traffic and be ranked higher than you.

Website page speed is crucial for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) due to several significant reasons:

User Experience (UX):

Page speed directly impacts user experience. When a website loads quickly, visitors are more likely to stay engaged, explore more pages, and have a positive perception of your brand.

Conversely, slow-loading pages frustrate users, leading to higher bounce rates and lower user satisfaction. Search engines like Google prioritise providing users with the best experience, and websites that offer fast-loading pages are rewarded with higher rankings.

Search Engine Rankings:

Google and other search engines consider page speed as a ranking factor.

Websites with faster-loading pages are more likely to rank higher in search engine results compared to slower websites with similar content and relevance. Improved rankings mean increased visibility and organic traffic, leading to more potential customers discovering your site.

Mobile-First Indexing:

With the rise in mobile internet usage, Google has adopted a mobile-first indexing approach.

This means that Google predominantly uses the mobile version of your website for indexing and ranking. Since mobile devices often have varying internet speeds, having fast-loading pages on mobile is crucial for better search rankings.

Core Web Vitals:

Google's Core Web Vitals are a set of user-centric metrics that assess website performance, including page speed.

These metrics (e.g., Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay, Cumulative Layout Shift) directly impact your website's overall user experience and influence search engine rankings.

Websites that excel in Core Web Vitals are more likely to receive a rankings boost.

Crawl Budget Optimisation:

Search engine bots have a limited crawl budget, which is the number of pages they can crawl on your site within a specific timeframe.

Faster-loading pages allow bots to crawl more pages efficiently, ensuring that your most important content is adequately indexed and ranked.

Reduced Bounce Rates:

Fast-loading pages reduce bounce rates, indicating to search engines that your content is relevant and valuable to users.

Lower bounce rates are considered a positive signal for search engine algorithms, contributing to improved rankings.

Enhanced Mobile Performance:

Mobile users expect websites to load quickly on their devices.

Websites that prioritise page speed for mobile users create a better user experience, encouraging users to engage with the content and stay longer on the site, which can positively impact SEO.

In summary, website page speed directly influences user experience, search engine rankings, and mobile performance.

By prioritising page speed optimisation, you can enhance user satisfaction, improve search engine visibility, and ultimately drive more organic traffic to your website

Largest Contentful Paint

Largest Contentful Paint is one of the issues that a lot of websites fall down on, and refers to how long it takes your site to load the largest pieces of content above the fold (i.e. content that shows without scrolling).

This is directly related to poorly optimised images or media. What type of content on your page do you have above the fold? Do you have a large video or poorly optimised large photos? This content needs to load in less than 2.5 seconds.

This issue has a knock-on effect on the rest of the page loading, as it’ll affect how long it takes for the page to become fully interactive (time to interactive), how long it takes everything on the page to be fully visible (speed index), and how long it takes between the first item of content loading on the page and the whole page being fully visible (total blocking time).

As the page is loading, elements on the page shouldn’t be moving around (this is known as cumulative layout shift), which is why you need a mobile-responsive site.

More often than not, businesses will optimise their websites for desktop without really thinking about their mobile users, however, Google is indexing the mobile version of your content, and if you’re not looking at that, you’re essentially ruining your ranking chances.

If you're looking for a website design and development agency you can rely on, get in touch with the team at Clickingmad today.

FAQ's on Website Speed

Does website speed impact my search engine rankings?

Yes, website speed is a critical factor that significantly affects your search engine rankings.

Search engines, including Google, prioritize user experience, and website speed plays a pivotal role in providing a seamless and satisfactory browsing experience.

Websites that load quickly are more likely to rank higher in search results as they demonstrate their commitment to delivering a positive user experience.

Slow-loading websites may experience a drop in rankings as search engines aim to present the most relevant and user-friendly websites to their users.

Will a slow-loading website be penalised in search results?

While search engines may not explicitly penalise slow-loading websites, they indirectly affect search engine rankings.

As search engines prioritise user experience, they are more likely to favour fast-loading websites that offer a seamless browsing experience.

Slow-loading websites tend to have higher bounce rates and lower user engagement, signalling to search engines that they may not be providing valuable content or a satisfactory user experience.

As a result, slow-loading websites may not rank as high in search results compared to their faster counterparts. By optimising your website speed, you increase the chances of ranking higher in search engine results and attracting more organic traffic.

How does website speed affect user experience?

Website speed directly impacts user experience, influencing how visitors interact with your site.

When a website loads quickly, users experience immediate gratification and are more likely to stay engaged. In contrast, slow-loading websites frustrate visitors and increase bounce rates as users abandon the site in search of faster alternatives.

By ensuring your website loads swiftly, you create a positive impression, encouraging users to explore further, interact with your content, and potentially convert into loyal customers.

A positive user experience fosters a strong connection between your brand and your audience, leading to better search engine rankings and enhanced online visibility.

Is website speed more important for mobile search rankings?

Yes, website speed is even more critical for mobile search rankings.

With the increasing use of mobile devices for internet browsing,

Google introduced mobile-first indexing, which means they prioritise the mobile version of your website for ranking and indexing purposes.

Consequently, mobile website speed significantly impacts your search engine rankings on mobile devices. Slow-loading mobile sites can lead to higher bounce rates and reduced user engagement, negatively impacting your mobile search rankings.

To succeed in the mobile-first era, ensuring your website is optimised for speed on mobile devices is imperative.

How can I improve my website's speed for better rankings?

Improving your website speed involves several essential steps.

First, optimise your images by compressing them without sacrificing quality.

Choose a reliable hosting provider that can handle your website's traffic demands. Utilise caching to store static resources and reduce load times for returning visitors.

Minimise HTTP requests by combining CSS and JavaScript files.

Additionally, enable browser caching to allow visitors to load your site faster after the initial visit.

By following these steps and implementing other speed optimisation techniques, you can significantly enhance your website's loading times and improve your search engine rankings.

Does website speed impact my website's crawl rate?

Yes, website speed directly affects your website's crawl rate, which is how frequently search engine bots visit and index your site's pages.

Faster-loading websites are more efficiently crawled by search engine bots, leading to better indexing and more accurate representation in search results.

If your website loads slowly, search engine bots may not crawl all your pages in a timely manner, potentially affecting your site's visibility in search engine rankings.

By prioritising website speed and ensuring faster loading times, you facilitate the crawling and indexing process, giving your site a better chance of being ranked higher in search results.

Can website speed affect my website's bounce rate?

Absolutely. Website speed has a significant impact on your website's bounce rate, which is the percentage of visitors who leave your site after viewing only one page.

When your website loads slowly, visitors are more likely to become frustrated and impatient, leading them to abandon your site and seek faster alternatives.

A high bounce rate signals to search engines that your site may not be providing relevant or engaging content, which can negatively impact your search engine rankings.

By optimising your website speed, you can reduce your bounce rate, improve user engagement, and create a more positive user experience, contributing to better search engine rankings.

Does website speed affect my website's conversion rate?

Yes, website speed directly impacts your website's conversion rate, which is the percentage of visitors who complete a desired action, such as making a purchase or filling out a contact form.

Studies have shown that faster-loading websites have higher conversion rates because they provide a smoother and more efficient user experience.

When your website loads quickly, visitors are more likely to engage with your content, explore your products or services, and complete desired actions.

On the other hand, slow-loading websites can lead to frustration and impatience, causing potential customers to abandon your site before converting.

By optimising your website speed, you enhance user satisfaction and increase the likelihood of conversions, positively impacting your bottom line.

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