Google’s Martin Splitt discusses the importance of page speed and its impact on SEO in the latest episode of SEO Mythbusting.
Joined by Perficient’s Eric Enge, Splitt tackles page speed from multiple angles discussing why it’s important, what’s considered a “good” page speed, and how to make pages faster.
Here’s a quick recap of each talking point, along with its corresponding timestamp in the video.
The general misconception about page speed & ranking (0:00)
A general misconception about page speed is that it’s a much bigger ranking factor than it really is. Some people even believe it’s the most important factor, which isn’t true.
Why is page speed important? (1:57)
Page speed is important because it alleviates the pain and frustration involved with waiting for sites to load.
There are many areas of the world with poor internet coverage and they need to be considered when developing websites.
Page speed vs content relevancy (3:00)
Page speed is an important ranking factor, but it’s not so important that fast pages will outrank other pages that have more relevant content.
Google aims to serve users with the most relevant content, which is not always the fastest content.
Average vs recommended web page size (4:54)
There’s a huge discrepancy between the average web page size and the recommended size for web pages.
The average size of web pages tends to be in the megabytes, when they should really be somewhere around 500KB.
Of course, the smaller a page is in size the faster it will load.
“The fewer [kilobytes] the better,” says Splitt.
Page speed optimization (5:48)
For the most part, SEOs are getting the basics right when it comes to page speed optimization, but there are still some aspects that pose a challenge.
For example, it’s widely understood that keeping image sizes to a minimum is beneficial to page speed.
However, tactics like lazy loading images are not always at the top of mind for SEOs. Lazy loading helps ensure images below the fold are not loaded until a user scrolls down the page.
The intricacies of Lighthouse reports, data, and scores (7:44)
SEOs can often get hung up on reports from tools like Google’s Lighthouse, which estimate how recommended changes will impact a site’s page speed.
Lighthouse may estimate that a specific change will save X-number of seconds off a page’s speed.
Then SEOs get disappointed when they implemented the change and don’t notice an immediate increase in speed.
Eric Enge reminds SEOs most of these issues are “threaded,” meaning it takes a combination of changes to improve speed. Not one specific fix.
Page speed on the different user devices and connections (9:18)
Be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking a site is fast because it loads quickly on your high-end smartphone.
Sites are accessed by all manner of devices, which all load sites at varying speeds.
Splitt suggests monitoring which devices are accessing your site and optimizing accordingly.
It may even be worth purchasing the most frequently used device to better understand how users are experiencing your site.
Page speed, Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), and Progressive Web Apps (PWA) (11:36)
Splitt repeats something that has to be stated every time there’s a discussion around page speed: AMP is not a ranking factor.
AMP is important insofar as page speed is important, but AMP on its own is not a ranking signal.
More on page speed as a factor in Google Search ranking (13:06)
Splitt concludes the discussion with a simple explanation of how page speed works as a ranking factor.
It’s more or less a tiebreaker in the sense that if two pages have comparable content, the faster page will rank ahead of the other.