What Google’s Blog means for Page Speed Optimisation

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November 27, 2019

Website page speed has always been one of Google’s core ranking factors for web pages and soon, users may be able to see exactly what Google does when it crawls your site.

Google Chrome – the web’s most popular browser – explained it will begin experimenting with “naming and shaming” websites, which it deems to have poor site speed.

These designs above are early templates for Google to roll out for Chrome users, before they begin navigating a website. Although this is a gradual roll out, the fact Google are writing about this in advance is proof this is a serious update with potentially massive consequences for search.

Google is suggesting that slow landing pages could be under even more pressure to survive and compete, if they do not act quickly enough. This is the perfect call to arms moment for businesses across the country to invest in improving their mobile page speed.

Why should you? Here is why users and Google value fast pages and the positive impacts it can make on your business.

Poor site speed = poor UX and bounce rates

The average time it takes for a mobile user to click off your site if your page doesn’t fully load, is just three seconds!  This increases bounce rate, which Google uses as a factor to judge how relevant and useful a page is to a user’s query. If there is any indication of a high bounce rate, Google is more likely to punish your page or website’s overall rankings.

Even if you have amazing content on your page, it won’t matter to Google because your page speed is slow!

This window of opportunity to attract a customer’s attention is narrowing every day. Poor UX and high bounce rates were already negatively impacting websites’ rankings before the news dropped this month regarding the testing of badges appearing on sites with poor speed.

If users take to this badge and decide to leave your website even quicker based on Google’s findings, your site could suffer from a self-fulfilling prophecy.  

  1. Google detects your site is slow, so it tells users who visit your site with their badge.
  2. Users listen and quickly leave your site to find quicker alternatives
  3. Google’s algorithm finds your pages experience poor engagement metrics and drop your rankings accordingly.

Page speed is already a mobile SEO ranking factor – badge or no badge.

When Google switched to its mobile-first optimisations model, it made mobile page speed more important than ever. As part of their mission to make sure the internet is as quick as possible for satisfying user intent, they needed to prioritise mobile speed after the medium became the dominant source of web searches.

If Google cannot crawl your page properly in just two seconds, it may severely limit the number of URLs it will crawl on your website. If any of your mobile pages in a section struggle to load quickly, this will have a knock-on effect on your overall site.  

Page speed is not as important to Google as page relevancy, authority or user behaviour, but all the signals it picks up on mentioned above, do matter.

Spending time to improve page load times at a server level will send a positive signal to Google. In turn, your site will almost always be rewarded with improvement in rankings.

Improvements are not that difficult.

It can be scary to tackle such a broad topic, but the good news is that improving page speed can be drilled down to three core factors.

  • Imagery
  • Coding (HTML & Javascript)
  • Redirects & Caching

Excessive use of one, or all these elements, of building websites, will have a big impact on how well Google measures your page speed.

By focusing on these primary elements, we communicate which issues for internal IT teams to focus on, who will action streamlining website performance.

MediaVision Case Study:

For example, when we took on board a client in the Spring of 2019, we noticed a recent website change had dropped their average page speed performance by 11%.

We sat down with their development team and conducted a thorough audit of page speed metrics, which we could streamline.

After three months of development work, we saw the following results.

  • Core position 1-3 keyword ranking share massively improve
  • Average page speed improved by 31% since their initial decline

Fast site speed = Improved conversion rates

The good news is as well as preventing Google from dropping your keyword rankings, improving your page speed is going to have a positive impact on your conversion rate.

Stakeholders always want to see traffic convert into sales or users to express interest in services offered by a website. Having a slick, fast user experience is key to converting the session into a sale.

The purchase journey starts at the search results pages, with chromium testing speed badges, it will be crucial to have a website that delivers content fast!

With our improvement in page load speeds, we can see the impact this has had on the Organic conversion rate for our case study client.

Improving how fast your pages load information for users, will inevitably improve their short-term experience but will help you in the long term too.

Paired up with quality content and a positive memorable service experience, the user will bookmark and/or willingly return, thus making the lifetime value of the user much longer.

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