Page load speed is an important metric for your website these days. There are two main reasons for this:
- Google plans to add Core Web Vitals to its ranking algorithm this year, and page load speed is an important part of that set of standards.
- If your page loads too slowly or is too jittery, people will leave your website without reading all the great content you have there.
Google is looking at how quickly the most important content loads, how quickly a visitor can click on a link or fill out a form, and how much the content shifts around as it loads.
You can get an idea of your site’s current performance in a couple of places:
- Google’s Search Console. This is the best if it works for you, since Google is making the rules. However, we find that most websites are getting a “not enough data” message right now.
- Dunplab has an online tool that tests your web vitals.
What can you do to improve page load speed?
For site owners, the question of what you can do to improve page load speed and core web vitals in general is not about minifying anything. It’s about the decisions you make about your website.
For example, is it time to update your website? If you haven’t redesigned your site in the past few years, then yes, it’s time. Use the tools above to check on your page vitals, and you’ll probably find that your good old website isn’t as fast as it could be.
Technology has changed over time. Your website was fast when you built it, but it can almost certainly be faster now.
Here’s another decision you can make: is it time to give up cheap web hosting? Yes, if you’re paying less for your business web hosting than for your home entertainment subscriptions, you probably need to step it up.
Get less fancy
At some point, you might have felt that having your favorite font was worth some extra steps. You might have wanted animation and interactive elements on every page. Big, high resolutions images — maybe lots on most pages — seemed very important. And you wanted multimedia elements everywhere, too.
The truth is, those things never really improved the performance of your website. Nothing in Google’s algorithm rewards one font over another, and no web visitor ever decided to choose one doctor over another because one was using Bahama Slim for H2 headings.
Work with a designer who understands how to make your website look good without slowing it down. At the very least, work with a web designer rather than a print designer who slaps up Square Space sites on the side.
You can even choose a good, modern theme and have a designer configure it for you. Again, a web designer is what you want. Web designers can often use CSS instead of images or follow best practices to keep code clean and elegant.
Also, consider how many browsers your website should support. Your designer can spend a lot of time making the site look roughly the same on as many devices and browsers as possible, but only at the cost of page speed. Check your analytics and determine which devices and browsers are highest priority, and be open to differences.
Mind your content
It’s fun to put lots of GIFs, big pictures, and videos on a page, but it will generally slow you down. The new WordPress block editor does its best to keep speed high, but keep speed in mind as you choose rich content to add to your page.
Text is not an issue. The words on your website are not only the most useful content for visitors and search engines, they’re also the lightest content you have.
Google has already announced that great web vitals won’t make up for poor content, so don’t give in to the temptation to cut text and replace it with more big images and videos.
I don’t usually call anyone out, but there is one type of web content that provides lots of bad examples of this kind of problem: foodie blogs. So I chose one at random and scrolled down the page.
There are six giant shots of the dish from multiple angles, dozens of ads, multiple videos, and the page judders and jumps as you scroll. I’m irritated by the time I reach the recipe. And I’m actually looking for the recipe. I’m not messing around. I want to cook something.
Some people must enjoy these pages, but I agree with Google that this is generally not a good experience for visitors.
So move away from that kind of content as much as you can.
These decisions will help you make sure the new algorithm updates will be good for you. If you need help figuring it out or want support in implementing those changes, we will be glad to help. Contact us to begin the conversation.