Page Speed More Important than Ever in SEO
Core Web Vitals is part of a recent algorithm update by Google that emphasizes and rewards websites that provide a better user experience. While there are a variety of factors, Google now gives more emphasis to the importance of a fast page load time as part of how it evaluates the overall user experience of your website.
This is big news for any business website, but especially for those who sell through ecommerce as a short page load time correlates directly with conversions. Read on to learn how this emphasis impacts your SEO efforts, and what you can do to improve page speed on both mobile and desktop.
Google’s 3 Core Web Vitals
Even if you have a digital marketing agency that takes care of everything to do with your website, it’s helpful for you to know the basics, and why they’re important. So let’s start by going over what, exactly, the Core Web Vitals speed metrics are.
There are 3 components of Google’s Core Web Vitals speed metrics, including:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
- First Input Delay (FID)
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Let’s break down the jargon and show you how to improve each score.
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
Largest Contentful Paint, or LCP, measures speed. It essentially measures how long it takes a page to load from the user’s point of view. We’re talking about what a user can see on one screen after clicking a link. LCP focuses on the time it takes for a user to see and interact with a page.
You can check your own website right now with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. Just enter your url into the box and click Analyze. Google will give you a score and recommendations for improvements.
But for full data on your LCP, we recommend using your Google Search Console (GSC). That’s because instead of seeing data on just one url, on your GSC you can see results for every page on your website. Based on LCP, a page will get a score of Poor, Needs Improvement, and Good.
Your goal, as with everything in business, is to stay in the green. This means you want every page to load within 2.5 seconds.
Improving Your LCP Score and Page Speed
There are several ways you can improve your LCP score and accelerate your speed. They include:
- Upgrading your web host (server). Shared servers can slow you down.
- Remove 3rd-party scripts.
- Set up lazy loading. This makes it so additional images further down the page only load as someone starts scrolling, making initial load time much faster.
- Optimize images for fast loading.
Of the page speed metrics, your LCP is arguably the most important.
First Input Delay (FID)
First Input Delay, or FID, measures a user’s interactivity with a web page. More precisely, it measures the time it takes for a user to interact with a page. Examples of these interactions include:
- Clicking or tapping a link in the navigation
- Tapping the “hamburger” menu on mobile
- Entering information into a field
- Using the “Call Now” feature
- Adding something to a shopping cart
FID measures how real world users interact with your website. For a page that’s heavy on content, FID might not be all that important, because the only thing a user might be expected to do is scroll down a page to continue reading.
But for a login page, a sign up page, or ecommerce product page, FID is a big deal. It matters a great deal that a user can start typing their login information, sign up for your newsletter, or quickly navigate to the product specifications.
You want users to be able to do something the first time they try, with no lag time. If you have web pages with a poor FID, try this:
- Remove unnecessary 3rd-party scripts.
- Use a browser cache.
Improving your FID makes the user experience faster and smoother.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Cumulative Layout Shift, or CLS, measures the visual stability of a page as it loads. The bottom line here is that elements on a web page should NOT move around as a page loads. Have you ever clicked on something on a web page you just got to and instead of the link you meant to click on, you click on something else? How annoying is that?
This can be due to a high CLS. High numbers in this case are bad. To reduce a high CLS, you need to get rid of the causes, which can include:
- Images and other media without specified dimensions
- Ads and other embeds without a reserved space, which allows them to move around.
Your GSC report will identify trouble areas.
While Core Web Vitals Are Vital, Don’t Forget the Basics
While it’s important to note that page speed plays a vital part in the overall user experience (UX), don’t forget the other components, including:
- Make your site secure, using HTTPS.
- Ensure your site is mobile friendly.
- Minimize the use of interstitial pop ups.
- Keep malware off your site.
And then of course, remember that no matter how good your user experience is, you need to have great content. if you have poorly written content, including vague product descriptions, no one is going to stick around. They’ll go to another website that spells out exactly what they offer, and give lots of product specifications so a user can make sure it’s what they want and need.
Top 5 Speed Statistics You Need to Know
While page speed load time is important for any business website, it’s especially important for ecommerce websites. Think about it. When you’re going online to do some Christmas gift shopping, you expect a website to load fast. Think about how annoyed you get with a slow site.
Now think if you have ever just backed out of that site (bounced) and gone back to your original search results. You’ve done it. You know you have. Now you realize that if your ecommerce site is slow, you’re losing customers. Here are some numbers to back up what we’re saying:
Nearly 70% of consumers say page speed impacts their decision whether or not to buy from an online business. (Unbounce)
The likelihood of bounce increases by 32% as page load time goes from 1 to 3 seconds. (Think with Google)
The e-commerce pages with the highest conversion rates take between 0-2 seconds to load. (Portent)
Website conversion rates drop by an by nearly 4.5% with each additional second of load time (between seconds 0-5) (Portent)
Website conversion rates drop by more than 2% with each extra second of load time (between seconds 0-9) (Portent)
Improve Page Speed by Partnering with North Studio
By now you understand why Core Web Vitals and blazingly fast page speed matter. Google cares. Prospective customers care. We care. At North Studio, our team has the technology, UX design, and SEO experience to optimize your website for speed. While we work with clients across the business and nonprofit spectrum, we specialize in ecommerce website optimization.
While we’re based in Victoria, BC, we work with clients worldwide. Get in touch by filling out the contact form or calling our office at 800-215-6702.