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SEO Best Practices: Is Your Page Speed Improving?

posted by Michael Epps Utley Michael Epps Utley
illustration of a pop-up window on a red background. the pop-up has a graphic of a speedometer, with red on the slow end, orange and yellow in the middle, and green on the fast end. it is pointing to an area in in the green. the speed indicated is 87.5 Mbps

Page speed, or how fast your page loads for users on their device, is a direct ranking factor. Google looks specifically at that metric to determine whether it's on page one or page three of search engine results. Ever since Google's Algorithm Speed Update, knowing and monitoring your page speed has been integral to optimizing for search.

Load times and page speed can also affect search engine optimization (SEO) rankings indirectly. The faster the page speed, the lower the bounce rate, and the higher the dwell time. Those key performance indicators will only help your website or landing pages be seen sooner.

As a results-driven digital marketing agency, here’s what we recommend to improve page speed.

How to Improve Page Load Speed

Know How to Check Your Page Speed

You can check your page speed using numerous third-party tools and plug-ins. SEO tools like SEMRush will give you page speed reports. You can also install page speed plug-ins as part of your Content Management System (CMS). The gold standard for page speed data is Google PageSpeed Insights. This free tool is ideal because:

  • It gives you scores for desktop and mobile page speed.

  • It shows you problems and issues that affect Google rankings and gives recommendations for fixing them.

  • It's designed to help you rank better on Google, which will improve your performance on platforms like Bing, YouTube, and more.

Familiarizing yourself with this tool will give your website development a leg up. You'll know where to tighten things up and make changes in real time for your site experience across devices.

Get Desktop and Mobile Scores

Knowing your page speed for desktop and mobile is crucial because of another Google ranking factor: mobile-first design. If your website works fine on desktop but is tanking for mobile users, you're likely going to see a drop in ranking and a loss of potential sales leads.

There will be times you'll have to compromise, of course. Google is all about delivering information as fast as possible. Any images, video, or design elements have the potential to slow that process down. Your site users, on the other hand, aren't robots. They need to see a human element rather than a sterile website filled with walls of text.

With that in mind, it's good to keep an eye on a score range rather than trying to get your mobile and desktop page speed scores to 100 and keep them there. In general, 85 and above shows you have a fast-moving, high-performing desktop or mobile site. Anything below 85 means it's time for some site maintenance and/or website upgrades.

Use Insights to Improve Performance

One of the most effective ways to get mobile and desktop page speed is to implement the fixes Google's tool delivers. Some causes of slowdowns may include:

  • Image and/or Video File Size

  • "Twitchy" Elements That Affect Scrolling

  • Plug-in Changes or Updates

  • Broken Website Elements

  • HTML Issues

Your web developer should have an understanding of how to identify and implement changes across your website without downtime, so you can start decreasing bounce rates and improving load times right away.

Store and Track Speed Changes Over Time

One of the most valuable things you can do with any marketing analytics and website data points is to store and track performance data in-house.

Many tools generate reports of current performance, but they aren't always user-friendly when it comes to comparing current page load speed to that of previous months. We suggest keeping a spreadsheet or a marketing dashboard updated with desktop and mobile page speed scores. This makes it easier to see how things like new plug-ins, website updates, or content marketing rollouts are impacting your page speed, so you know exactly where and how to make changes.

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