Why PageSpeed Matters For SEO [Updated March 31, 2020]
Today, almost 60 percent of web traffic comes from mobile devices. That’s a staggering increase from just a few years ago and something that has not gone unnoticed by Google. Recently, Google has indicated that Pagespeed will be a full ranking factor. What this means is that the faster your website pages load, the higher rank you stand to earn on Google. While the technical aspects behind this are much more complex than that, we now know that Pagespeed deserves your full attention. If your website takes more than 3 seconds to load, you’re losing Google rankings. Let’s find out why.
Mobile First Indexing And SEO
Currently, as far as we know, Google uses one singular algorithm to scan and index all websites regardless if they are desktop or mobile. This means that all websites are scanned as desktop website and looks for signals in the scan that tells Google…Hey! Our website is mobile friendly too! It then takes these signals and populates DIFFERENT search results to you based on what kind of device you are using to make that search. What is about to change is the indexing of mobile and desktop website will be split with mobile indexing taking precedence with more up to date information than the desktop index. We’re heading towards a mobile device dominated world. Learn more about mobile first indexing here!
July 2019 Update! We now have confirmation from Google about mobile first indexing. “Starting July 1, 2019, mobile-first indexing is enabled by default for all new websites (new to the web or previously unknown to Google Search). For older or existing websites, we continue to monitor and evaluate pages based on the best practices. Learn more here.
Over the past few years we have seen this cause quite a few problems with mobile search as many websites can provide very sub par user experiences to Google for mobile devices. This is the driving force behind all of the changes Google has imposed over the last few years, improving the mobile experience for websites. Google sees the writing on the wall – search and web traffic have grown exponentially on mobile devices compared to desktop – yet we are still stuck in a desktop world for websites. Google has made it their mission to push the entire internet in the mobile direction and I wholeheartedly support this trend. The Mobile First Indexing announcement is the next phase of this. Google will now start scanning websites for their MOBILE CAPABILITIES and what kind of experience you provide to the user on mobile devices before all other desktop factors. This means that even if you are on a desktop and searching for something on Google, it weighs mobile search factors HIGHER than desktop, providing you with only mobile optimized websites as search results.
Part of what goes into Google’s mobile first indexing is how fast the website loads on mobile devices. It is debated on how heavy Page Load Speed is actually weighted in the algorithm but the simple fact they tell us it is, should be enough for any business to recognize this is something all websites should be optimizing for.
AMP & Facebook Instant
Essentially, AMP is a new standard of programming code that is applied to an existing article written in the standard HTML/CSS model of web development. This takes your article, blog, webpage etc. and optimizes it for mobile devices by turning them into “reader friendly” pages. These pages take out interactive content and leave only images, text and, most importantly…spaces for ads. The goal of this movement is to increase page load speeds while allowing publishers to not lose out on valuable mobile ad revenue. A better mobile experience for users is becoming the goal of almost all web platforms. Recently, Facebook also released it’s own AMP style publishing tool called Facebook Instant Articles, though it is a closed source product.
The motivation behind both of these recent technologies is one thing, Page Load Speed. Both AMP and Facebook Instant have under 1 second load times which is blazing fast on today’s internet. Because of this, we see Google “favoring” articles or web pages built on AMP especially. Go ahead, open Google news on your phone and tell me how long it takes to find a Non-AMP article. Odds are you won’t see ANY. If Google hasn’t made pagespeed one of its highest priorities for SEO yet, it’s certainly on it’s way. You never want to be on the wrong side of history with Google, take Page Load Speed seriously! Learn more about AMP here.
What Goes Into Pagespeed Optimization?
Unfortunately, almost every method for optimizing for page load speed is incredibly technical. It requires many changes to web coding practices as well as many server side changes. In short, you will need a developer who understands the nuts and bolts of a website to make many changes. When looking for a developer to improve the speed of your website make sure they are qualified to do the following things:
- Reduce server response time
- Implement compression using tools like Gzip
- Use browser caching
- Code without reliance on plugins (every plugin slows a website down)
- Lower Redirects
As you can see, optimizing for page load speed is no small task. It’s also important to be aware that some websites, especially older ones, may be impossible to optimize fully (or even at all.) Just a few years ago developers didn’t have a need to optimize the speed of websites due to the fact most traffic was still desktop based and had wired connections. This has caused quite a bit of problems for developers as some websites and their underlying technology (servers, coding structure etc.) just can’t be improved enough to satisfy modern speed requirements. Unfortunately, this means that in some cases, it may be easier and financially feasible to completely rebuild a website. When embarking on the trek to speed up your website, make sure your developer is up to the task!
Pro Tip: Utilizing responsive design in the construction of your website can inherently help with many of these requirements. Learn more about responsive design here!
How Can I Improve The Page Load Speed Of MY Website?
While most of pagespeed optimization is technical. There are a few techniques anyone can do to improve a few percentage points. The easiest way to think about this is, we need to reduce the file size of each page and optimizing images is the best way to do that. People love to use super high quality images on the web today. Trust me this is not a bad thing at all. No one wants to see a blurry homepage background. But this doesn’t mean you need to upload new pictures from your sweet 4k camera to your website at full size! Some pictures can be over 10mb in size! That is far too large to be on a website, ideally an image should be under 250kb in size. It’s near impossible to notice the difference in picture quality but you just reduced your page’s size significantly. Here are a few tools to get you started!
All of these websites are free to use and can easily compress your images into more manageable web files!
Why Choose Oak City Technology
We’re living in a mobile first world. Starting in July 2018, page speed will become a ranking factor in Google mobile search. We can usually make your website load in 1-3 seconds! While other web agencies have given up on the elusive 100 PageSpeed Score, we know Google’s standards and apply industry best practices to optimize your website speed. Our website scored a perfect 100! (Feel free to scan our website with Google PageSpeed Insights :)
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