Is page speed a ranking factor? Yes, it always was.
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It's now official that Google is including page speed in its 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.
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.
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.
All these initiatives have one goal: Delivering the most important content instantly to the user and optimizing delivery 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.
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 on public transportation or by car where a good quality internet connection is very difficult to maintain.
Why is speed so important?
To get a feeling of 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 announced 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:
|Compress, gzip and minify files||Small|
|Optimize image compression and size||Small|
|Optimize font loading||Small|
|Configure a CDN||Medium|
|Lazy load images||Medium|
|Optimize server response time||Medium|
|Split CSS into above the fold and below the fold||Big|
Slow vs. Fast = 21 vs. 2.1 seconds
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, make 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%.