Google has always favoured websites that load faster. In recent years, they have moved towards “mobile first indexing”. This means that they will first look at how your website performs on mobile devices, where internet connection speeds may not be as quick as on a wireless or wired desktop in the home.
What is mobile first indexing?
The effect of mobile first indexing, means that websites that perform better on mobile devices will have an advantage in search results over those that perform poorly, or are not “responsive” (i.e. the content on the page responds in layout in relation to the size of the screen it is being viewed on).
Why is page speed important?
Page speed and how your website loads on mobile devices will become more important next year (2021) as Google has announced it will use “Core Web Vitals” as a ranking factor at some point. (edit 10.11.2020: In November, Google further announced they will begin to roll out these ranking factors in May 2021.)
What are Core Web Vitals?
Core Web Vitals measures three key areas of your web page:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – this measures loading performance of what the site visitor sees on the screen. It reports on how long it takes to load the largest block of the page, whether that be an image or text. At the current time, Google say that anything that takes longer than 2.5 seconds to load, “needs improvement”, and anything over 4 seconds they see as a “poor” user experience.
- First Input Delay (FID) – this measures the delay in your web page to becoming interactive, and currently Google a delay of less than 100ms (milliseconds). Any delay above that “needs improvement” and a delay of more than 300ms is scored as “poor” for user experience.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – this measures how stable, in visual terms, a webpage is. In simple terms, if during a web page load, the content shifts from one area to another, this is bad for user experience. Think in terms of a button that initially loads at the top of the screen, but then is shifted or moves further down the screen when another element on the page loads. This might cause the button to be clicked unintentionally by the user. The score is calculated by the impact fraction times the distance fraction. A shift score of less than 0.1 is good, and anything above that needs improvement. Anything above 0.25 is defined as a “poor” user experience.
All information relating to Core Web Vitals can be found within your Google Search Console (GSC), as long as Google have been able to gather sufficient data from your website visits. If you have a relatively new website, then you will need to wait until GSC gathers the data to provide the information. We can however run tests, using various page speed tools, that will give us an indication as to whether this is likely to be something to worry about in the future.
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