Is page speed a ranking factor? Yes, it always was.

It’s now official that Google is including page speed in their search algorithm. In this article I will explain why page speed is and always was an important ranking factor.

Google's efforts to bring a better user experience to mobile

1. Pagespeed Insights

First Google came up with Pagespeed Insights, a tool that measures the performance of a page for mobile and desktop devices. Together with this tool, they published best practices that show how you should optimize your code.

Pagespeed Insights

2. Accelerated mobile pages (AMP)

Later Google went even further and released AMP, a service that serves a minimalistic version of your pages on Google servers.

Google AMP page

3. Google Lighthouse

Recently they released a beta of Google Lighthouse which analyzes web apps and web pages, collecting modern performance metrics. It’s an improved “Pagespeed Insights” and comes as a browser extension.

Pagespeed Insights

All these initiatives have one goal: Delivering the most important content instantly to the user and optimize delivering for mobile devices.

What’s a fast website?

The easiest way to test your website performance is to activate network throttling in the Chrome developer tools.

Simulate poor network performance

You should test with “Good 2G” and see what happens when your website loads. If you have an optimized website you should immediately see at least the text and basic structure. On non-optimized pages, there is a long period where you just see a blank page. See video.

That experience is what thousands of mobile users feel when they are using their phones while traveling to work in public transports or by car where the internet connection is very difficult to maintain at a good quality.

Why speed is so important?

To get a feeling how big the pain is, here are some facts about page speed:

  • 73% of mobile internet users say that they’ve encountered a website that was too slow to load.
  • 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.
  • 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
  • A 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.
  • If an e-commerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1 second page delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year.

Pagespeed always has been a ranking factor

Google has anounced that they added page speed as a factor in their search algorithm. But there has always been another factor that influenced the page rank of a slow website: The bouncing rate. It’s the moment where the user opens your website and hits the back button because your website was not able to deliver the content in an acceptable time.

How to improve my page speed?

First of all: Test your website with Google Pagespeed Insights. You should definitely target to have a green value in the mobile and desktop test result. The effort to optimize your site depends on various technical details but I’ll give you a rough estimation of effort. An experienced developer can optimize a small website with 1-10 pages in one day:

Effort
Compress, gzip and minify filesSmall
Optimize image compression and sizeSmall
Optimize font loadingSmall
Configure a CDNMedium
Lazy load imagesMedium
Optimize server response timeMedium
Split CSS into above the fold and below the foldBig

Slow vs. Fast = 21 vs. 2.1 seconds

Conclusion

My experience showed me that page speed is one of the most important factors to make your visitors happy. There are already more mobile than desktop users and the mobile percentage continues to grow.

So if you have not done it already, get your website fast today and Google will thank you! By the way storyblok.com has everything you need to get a page speed of 100%.


More to read...

About the author

Alexander Feiglstorfer

Passionate developer and always in search of the most effective way to resolve a problem. Thinking in components helped him to be five times more productive. After working for big agencies and developing a scalable e-commerce platform he founded Storyblok.