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How many times have you clicked through to a website only to find it loads exasperatingly slowly?

Well, you’re not the only one. Google recently took note and made website speed a significant ranking factor. So, if you’re worried about the speed of your website and how this could be affecting your SEO, keep reading… 🙌🙌

Why does website speed matter?

The speed at which your website loads has always been something you should try and improve. After all, human nature suggests that if you have to wait too long to access something, you’ll simply go elsewhere. If you snooze, you lose (your customers to competitors that is…) 😴

However, the importance of website speed was given a significant boost this summer when Google decided to make page speed a direct ranking factor as part of its Core Web Vitals algorithm update.

At Google, users come first. They want to direct Google users to websites which offer a smooth, seamless and quick experience.

Their decision to make page speed a ranking factor was driven by research which shows that 53% of mobile users will abandon a website that takes over three seconds to load. 👀 😱

All of this means you need to get your house in order… 😎

What are the benefits of faster page speeds?

Put simply, faster website and page speeds create an optimal user experience.

The quicker a user is able to load and then navigate your website, the more likely they are to hang around and give you their hard-earned cash. 💰🤑

To quote Google directly, faster web experiences lead to:

Higher user engagement, conversions and ROI; performance is a feature and a competitive edge.”

Who can argue with that?! 😀

What are Google’s Core Web Vitals?

Okay, so you know your website has to load fast. And, your website’s speed will impact your SEO because of something called Core Web Vitals.

Well, what exactly are these Core Web Vitals? 🔍

Let’s break it down….

At the risk of oversimplifying things, Google’s Core Web Vitals can be broken down into three parts:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP).
  • First Input Delay (FID).
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS).

Google measures how your site performs against these three metrics and then assigns you a Core Web Vitals score. 🏆

Improving your performance against each of these metrics will help you speed up your site and thus improve your overall SEO performance.

So, what does each metric mean exactly? Let’s take a look. 😳

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

Largest Contentful Paint measures how long it takes for the largest content on a page to load.

Therefore, if you have a massive video or incredibly high definition image on a web page, it’s likely to slow down that page’s load time considerably 😴. There are a range of things you can do to remedy this situation. These include basic actions such as manually optimising your image sizes, compressing text files and removing unused Javascript.

At the more technical end of things, you can improve your site’s LCP performance by improving the Time To First Byte (TTFB), reducing your server’s response time and using content delivery networks. 🤓

First Input Delay (FID)

This is a metric which has seemingly been introduced primarily with mobile web users in mind. 📲

First Input Delay measures the time it takes for a user to be able to interact with a web page.

We’ve all been there; you click through to a web page and then furiously stab at the screen until the page eventually responds. FID wants to make that sort of experience a thing of the past. 🤞

As you can imagine, this metric is particularly important for websites that involve a lot of clicks (such as an eCommerce website where a visitor will be clicking through to multiple pages).

You can improve your site’s FID score by editing browser cache settings, minimising Javascript, and removing any non-critical third-party scripts.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

Finally, we have Cumulative Layout Shift. This is a metric which measures how stable a web page is as it loads. 💻

You may recall this from your own experiences on the web. Have you ever clicked onto a webpage only to find that parts of the page move around as it loads? That’s Cumulative Layout Shift. 😡

Ideally, you want all of the different elements on your page to stay in place as the page loads. That way, users won’t click on the wrong part of the page – resulting in poor user experience.

You can improve the CLS score of your website by undertaking actions such as setting size attribution dimensions for media such as videos, images, GIFs and infographics, ensuring that ad elements have a dedicated space and changing the way your website handles web fonts (if it uses them). 👍

Do these things and you can significantly increase the speed of your website.

What else can you do to improve website speed?

Aside from optimising for Google’s Core Web Vitals, there’s one other vitally important thing you can do.

Can you guess what it is?

Yes, it’s all about your server. As the place where your website ‘lives’, the server, and by extension your hosting solution, have a fundamental impact on the speed of your website.

Improve server response time

The speed with which your server responds can be a major factor in the overall speed of your website. 🖥 🙅

Your server response time will be affected by several things including the volume of traffic you receive, how ‘data-heavy’ your pages are, the software that is used by your server, and of course the hosting service you use.

If you really want to boost the speed of your website, then it’s important you use a hosting solution that effectively handles things such as database queries, routing and memory. Fail to secure a hosting solution that does these things and all of your other efforts to optimise the speed of your website will be for nought. 🎯

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Read more hosting and website advice and information on the upHost blog 

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