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Site Speed and Page Experience – Why they matter and how to improve them

After the Panda update to Google, SEOs and webmasters have been quick to release their own experiments to try and discover what causes a page/site to rank high in results. The basis of these tests is Page Rank (PR) and how it’s algorithm has evolved to look at more than just keywords on the page.

What is Page Rank (PR)

Page Rank is a collective metric made up of multiple factors such as Page load time, bounce rate, engagement rate, page depth and more. In the past, the search engines have heavily considered how well you address a particular topic. It looked at the keywords present on the page.

Now, as the algorithm has got smarter, it no longer relies heavily on keywords. Using the correct keywords is now just part of the puzzle. As more websites pop up with regurgitated content, Google and other engines now look at the user’s experience on your site as well as the content.

What is Page Experience?

Say you have a really informative site but it takes forever to load or has broken links, that frustrates the end user resulting in a poor page experience. If the information isn’t easy to find, that’ll lead to frustrated users which also affects the metrics used for Page Experience.

Why does site speed matter?

A site’s load speed is the first thing users notice. Think about a time when you visited a slow loading site. How long did you stick around before getting frustrated? On average, a user will wait 2 seconds for a site to show signs of loading. If a complete load takes longer than 6 seconds – you’ll lose a big % of your traffic.

High load times will reduce the number of pages a user visits, the amount of time they spend on the site and also sets off red flags in the Search Console.

How you can improve your PR and page experience for better SEO

Google is in business of providing users with informative and accurate results (paid or organic). They use web crawlers or spiders to ‘read’ a site and see how well it matches a user’s intent. It then uses over 200 signals including site speed, user engagement, site authority and more to give you a rank. To win and get to the top of Google, you need to score higher than your competitors.

We’ll break this down into two sections:

Site Speed

There are many things you can do to improve your website’s loading speeds. These principles apply on all platforms so whether you’re trying to speed up a WordPress site or a Shopify site, you should apply these changes.

The top 4 effective methods are:

1. Optimize images – make sure your images are as small as possible, and use the correct file format (JPEG is usually best). Advanced users should use the WebP format. This is where most businesses fail, incorrectly sized images

2. Use a content delivery network – a CDN will help speed up the delivery of your website’s content to users around the world. Cloudflare is a reliable provider.

3. Minimize HTTP requests – reduce the number of files that need to be loaded on each page. This can be done by combining files (e.g. CSS and JavaScript), using lazy loading, and removing unnecessary plugins and widgets.

4. Optimize your server settings – make sure your server is configured with sufficient RAM, a short PHP execution time (longer execution times can hang the server if there’s poorly written code in your theme), configured for nginx caching and perhaps Gzip.

For more tips on improving site speed click here

Page Experience

Improving page experience is less mechanistic and more intuitive. Start with the goal in mind: you want the user to have a good experience, be more engaged to buy more off you. Think about how many resources retailers and malls spend on you having a good in-store experience so you buy more. Same logic.

  1. Easy navigation: One way is to make sure that your website is easy to navigate. Users should be able to find what they are looking for quickly and easily.
  2. Fast website load times: Users will get frustrated if a website takes too long to load, so it is important to make sure that your website loads quickly.
  3. Reduce CLS: CLS or cumulative layout shift is the number of pixels that the entire page shifts when viewed in different browsers or on different devices. As a best practice, you should try to minimize CLS. You will have experienced it on sites where different elements on screen move slightly while loading. By the time you click it, it has moved and you end up clicking something else by accident. That’s frustrating.
  4. Internal Linking: This flows on from easy navigation. The goal is to answer all the user’s queries well and quickly. If you make it easy to find e.g. via internal linking, you’ll keep them on for longer and familiarity breeds trust.
  5. Responsive website design: This goes without saying, your site should load well and apply all the principles above on mobile as most of your buyers will browse on mobile.

In this article, we’ve covered the importance of page speed and page experience on SEO ranks. From site loading time to navigation, there are many ways that you can improve your website for better search engine rank. We hope that by following these principles, you’ll be able to get higher traffic from Google with less effort than before! For more information about how our digital marketing team at Digigo can help optimize your website’s load times or create a custom plan just for you, feel free to reach out anytime. Call us today on 0800TOGROW

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