Whether online or offline, people want two things: quality and speed. This reflects in a lot of statistics. A KissMetrics report, for example, revealed that over 40 percent of Internet users are likely to abandon a website if it takes longer than three seconds for the page to load. Moreover, even a second delay in the loading time can decrease the conversion rate by as much as 7 percent.
Fortunately, many marketing experts and web designers can help improve page speed. They can remove non-essential elements on a page or use simpler versions of CSS. Search engine optimization (SEO) specialists can reduce redirects.
Business owners, meanwhile, can allocate a higher budget to move to a more dedicated server. A server that hosts many websites can affect the accessibility of the pages, potentially making them a lot slower to load.
But the biggest reason to do something about page speed stat is to be on the good side of the mighty Google.
Page Speed: A Ranking Factor
People should care about page speed because it is a ranking factor. Now, what does this mean?
Today, the Internet has billions of websites that need organization, and that’s the broad objective of search engines like Google. However, it doesn’t just want to show users random pages that might not be relevant or won’t make sense. Otherwise, users will eventually leave and choose a search engine competitor.
As an analogy, Internet users can picture themselves walking into a shoe shop with a specific brand in mind. However, the supposed subject-matter expert kept on presenting other brands first or, worse, tried to sell something other than a pair of shoes. It won’t be long before these people start walking out the door to go someplace else.
But with so many pages to organize, Google needs to set up a list of criteria to determine which should appear first. This is where the ranking factors come in.
A ranking factor, therefore, is a variable that search engines, particularly Google, use to find the best order of relevant pages based on the query of the user. This is different from a ranking indicator, which may be factors that could influence a page’s position on the search results.
It’s not all the time that Google will tell whether something is a ranking factor or not. Sometimes eagle-eyed marketers may see changes in their ranking one day. Digging deeper, they will come to realize what might have affected their search results positions.
Google, though, announced that page speed is a ranking factor. In 2010, it was for desktop search. In 2018, the loading time of the page affected the keyword ranking on mobile search. In fact, this change preceded mobile-first indexing, which the search engine launched in 2019.
Google’s Page Experience Update
To further cement the value of page speed in determining the order of the pages’ appearance in a search query, Google also announced the page experience update.
Google uses algorithms to automate the process of ranking the billions of pages, and until now, nobody has figured out how it specifically works. One thing is clear: the search engine constantly updates it to meet certain objectives like penalizing those that don’t follow the rules or rewarding those that do. The page experience update aims to do the latter.
But to determine who deserves the incentive, which might include a better ranking, the update will try to perform an assessment according to a variety of signals or ranking factors. These include those collectively called the core web vital metrics.
These are the primary web vitals that could have a direct impact on user experience. For Google, this matters because if the site isn’t performing well, it could reflect on the search engine’s reputation as a whole. And for Google, they are here to please the Internet users.
Three factors belong in the core web vitals:
- Large contentful paint (LCP), which refers to how fast the largest text block or image appears on the screen when the page started loading
- First input delay (FID), which refers to the speed at which the user can interact with the page, like click a button, and the response of the website based on this event
- Cumulative layout shift (CLS), which focuses on the stability of the page’s elements
As one can see, the first two are directly related to page speed. LCP is, in fact, about the loading time, which should be 2.5 seconds or less to be marked as good.
Without a good page speed, even the best-quality content won’t be able to convert. By the time it appears, there’s no Internet user to read it. One should get their foot on the door first, so to speak, by fixing their loading time if they want to sell.