In July 2018 when Google switched to mobile-first indexing, page load speed became a direct ranking factor for mobile. When It rolled out its Core Web Vitals update in June 2021, the page load speed became a ranking factor for all the pages.
Google ranks pages that offer the best user experience because it wants to provide the best experience to its users. Page speed can affect the user experience and now it is a direct ranking factor.
Page speed is a metric that is used to measure how long it takes to load a page. It is different from website speed which is the average loading time of the whole website. Page speed can be affected by the quality of the server, file sizes, images and more.
If your website loads slowly then the visitors may get frustrated and leave the website. This will negatively affect your search rankings and also affect your conversion rate. It can also affect the bounce rate and the session time of your website. All this affects your SEO. You should make sure your pages load between 2 - 3 seconds.
Google ranks high-speed sites over slow-speed ones. You can monitor and evaluate the performance of your website using tools like PageSpeed Insights, Lighthouse and Chrome User Experience Report.
Ways to speed up your website
You should improve the speed of your website by doing the following:
- The CSS files should be minified as this removes the unwanted spacing, characters and comments from your content.
- You should implement CDN, it is a network for servers that are placed in different locations and store a version of your website. It can identify the location of the visitors and deliver them content from the server located closest to them.
- Large Images and videos can negatively affect the site speed. You should optimise your images by making them in the right format and using the right pixel dimensions. You can optimise your videos by compressing and reducing the length.
- Every file your webpage requires leads to a separate HTTP request like CSS, HTML, fonts and more. If there are too many requests then your page speed can slow down. You should reduce the number of requests to improve your page speed. To improve your page speed you can merge the CSS files, reduce the plugins and use sprites instead of images.
- If you are sharing the server with many people then your pages will load slowly. You can select a web hosting provider that is optimised for speed.
- Use page caching to allow your website‘s backend to generate the content quickly.