Page Speed and Core Web Vitals

How do I measure my website’s current page speed, and how it compares to our competitors? 

Understanding your website’s current page speed and how it compares to your competitors can help you identify areas for improvement. Page speed insights can be gathered from the frontend in how you, the user, interacts across a website and may be put off by certain pages or elements loading slowly. If you’re finding that a product page is taking too long to fully render or that images are slowing down full page loads, then it is likely your customers are too.

Going deeper, there are a number of tools that your SEO and product teams can utilise to gather additional insights as to page load speed across individual pages, and resources that are potentially slowing things down. Free tools such Google Lighthouse and PageSpeed Insights can help here, and the Core Web Vitals area of Google Search Console can also give you pointers too. There are also plenty of paid options such GTmetrix that will enable your team to isolate further room for improvement alongside competitor data.

What is Core Web Vitals and how can we improve our performance in it?

Core Web Vitals is a set of metrics introduced by Google in May 2020 that delves into user experience through the lens of loading performance, interactivity and visual stability of a page. It covers three metrics: Largest Contenful Paint, First Input Delay and Cumulative Layout Shift, all of which relate to how fast a page loads for the user and maintains a good level of user experience. The three metrics form a score out of 100 for web pages, with anything above 90 deemed “good”.

Core Web Vitals, now baked into tools such as Google Search Console, have a direct impact on your search ranking potential and can play a big role in conversion rate optimisation if addressed thoroughly. 

To look at improving these signals, your technical SEO, product and development teams should look for ways in which they optimise code deployed on the page, with overuse of JavaScript, CSS or large images being typical culprits. At an infrastructure level, the use of CDNs and improved web hosting may be worth considering as investments to improve your Core Web Vitals. Remember, page speed can be a big decider in whether a user purchases, so it is always worth improving.

How can we ensure that our website’s page speed is optimised for mobile users? 

Mobile users expect fast-loading pages, so optimising your website’s page speed for mobile devices is crucial. Getting your team to use modern image formats such as WebP allow for better compression and quality on mobile

You may need to use a different approach to optimise for mobile, such as reducing the number of images or using a different content management system (CMS) if your users are chiefly on mobile. As with optimising for page speed in general however, consider the use of a CDN or methods to deliver pre-rendered content through caching to speed up your site’s content for mobile.

How can we measure the impact of page speed on our SEO performance? 

Page speed is a ranking factor for Google, so improving your website’s page speed can positively impact your SEO performance. You should consider how you can measure this impact, such as tracking changes in keyword rankings and organic traffic. Your team can look to marry up your Core Web Vital scores with general performance metrics in Google Search Console, for example. 

Of course improvements to rankings and traffic brought on by improvements to page speed are worthy, however ultimately such impact needs to be assessed in the context of user engagement and conversions on your site. A lightning fast website is great, though this needs to be rolled out to all key commercial pages so that users are able to browse your products, assess and configure options, and complete their journey seamlessly. 

Address how site speed performance, good or bad, is impacting your bottom line.

How can we maintain our website’s page speed over time? 

Page speed optimization is an ongoing process, so it’s important to have a plan in place to maintain your website’s page speed. You should consider how you can continue to optimise your website’s page speed, such as regularly monitoring your website’s performance and making updates as needed. This can be done by tying up your existing reporting frameworks on all things SEO related such as traffic, keyword rankings and conversions from SEO, along with site speed metrics. There may be some interest patterns detected in pages that are performing less well from a conversion standpoint if they are loading slowly.

Inevitably, as time goes on and your business grows and technologies develop, there will undoubtedly be events such as CMS changes, rich media enhancement or additional analytics tags that may contribute to page load speed in a good or bad way. As with many SEO activities, there is always a requirement for consistent improvement, testing and iteration to keep you ahead of the game.

Page Speed SEO Case Study

Large mobile phone retailer increases sales by 10% by improving Core Web Vitals.

Problem: Tests were carried out across a number of core pages across the user purchasing journey, revealing that many key pages had failing Core Web Vitals scores.

Solution: Through implementing A/B testing, the business deployed two similar pages, with one having an enhanced Largest Contentful Paint score due to some code compression optimisations. This saw an increase in sales from users leading from this page increase by 10%. 

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