When small businesses invest in a website they need to pay attention to many things. These include user experience, ensure the key messaging and features are well described, get graphics done, it is easy to contact you with clear forms and CTA, and it is fast. The latter can be easy to overlook as speed is hard to design for and easy to assume it will be okay. But speed is absolutely critical, influencing your conversion rates, repeat business and search engine rankings. In May 2021, Google will update their algorithms, making speed even more crucial. Read on to understand why, how and what small businesses can do to improve their website speed.
Why is Speed so Important?
According to Google, if you improve site speed by as little as one-second you can lower bounce rates and increase conversions by up to 27%.
A survey from Skilled discovered that if customers had a bad experience buying something due to speed, they were 79% less likely to repurchase.
Google, which effectively handles 92.47% of the world search market share, as of January 2021—uses site speed as a ranking factor for search results.
What is Happening in May?
In the new update, Google will combine Core Web Vitals with existing search signals. Core Web Vitals are user-centric metrics that help users perceive a page as fast. They are made up of 3 components:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)– This metric lets users know when a site is useful by measuring how long it takes for a page’s main content to load.
First Input Delay (FID)-This metric measures the time from when a user first interacts with a page, like clicking hyperlinked text or a button, to the time when the browser is actually able to respond to that interaction.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) -This metric ensures users have the best experience possible by measuring how often users experience an unexpected layout shift.
It is said that Google is designing visual indicators to let you know what pages have met the criteria above. If they are successfully tested, they will be launched with the update. However, a survey from last August showed that less than 15% of sites are optimized sufficiently well to pass a Core Web Vitals assessment.
Top Stories Carousel and non-AMP Content
In addition, Google announced that non-AMP pages will become eligible to appear in Top Stories in May 2021. This update will roll out at the same time as the page experience ranking signal.
How to Optimise for Core Web Vitals?
Preload Key Resources
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures how quickly the main onsite and above-the-fold elements load. You can find this by going to Google Developer Tools and then looking at the waterfall chart in the Performance tab. You can then speed up loading times by telling the browser to use preloading to fetch this content as a priority.
Minimize Long Tasks
Reserve Space for Images and Embeds
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) looks at the amount that the visual layout of a page moves around as a page loads. When you have gone to click on a link you may have found that the page layout shifted, and you ended up clicking in the wrong place. This is usually caused because space is not reserved for this element so things have to move. The solution is to ensure you save space for that element.
Make Sure Templates are Mobile Friendly
How your website performs on mobile is absolutely crucial. You can get indicators on its mobile performance either through the Mobile Usability report in Google Search Console or Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
Security is a key part of the next update. You can check out your security issues report in Google Search Console under the Security & Manual Actions heading.
Resources Over HTTPS
Another security related issue is where users have to download or input information. You should make sure that forms and other resources that users interact with, are downloadable over HTTPS.
To allow your users to browse safely, ensure your site has an up-to-date SSL certificate, and migrate any of your URLs and on-page resources to HTTPS.
Use Inobtrusive Interstitials
Redesign pop-ups and interstitials so that they don’t obstruct important on-page content, and also so that users don’t have to physically close them to be able to continue their journey on your site.
Other Resources to Evaluate Core Web Vitals
Google has already updated Search Console to allow small and other businesses to improve their website speed for Core Web Vitals. You can also measure using:
- Search Console
- PageSpeed Insights
- Chrome DevTools
- Chrome UX Report
- Web Vitals Extension
By following these tips and incorporating page experience optimization into your SEO strategy, small businesses can help to improve their website speed and page experience signals. This will have positive effects in both the short term and long term.
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