There are many ingredients to fantastic SEO. The websites that perform best often have great content, plenty of backlinks, and boast an outstanding user experience. After all, Google, which covers over 90% of the online search space, is concerned with more than just sending people to the most relevant results. They want to send them to great websites too, and it’s vital to look beyond what’s on the page. Instead, site owners need to think about how people interact with their page, how it’s presented, and the speed at which it loads.
Google takes these ranking factors into account in numerous ways, and one of the most important considerations for any SEO specialist is PageSpeed Insights.
What is PageSpeed Insights?
PageSpeed Insights is a Google tool that lets people measure their site’s performance in terms of speed. It also provides information on how the page could potentially be better-served for an enhanced user experience and, ultimately, improved search rankings.
Google is famously tight-lipped around the inner workings of its search engine and the criteria used to rank different pages. However, they have indicated heavily over the years that the speed at which a page loads can make the difference in where a site appears in search results. As a result, some experts decided not to lend too much weight to the score, as they considered it, at most, as a tie-breaker between two otherwise equally deserving web pages.
However, that changed in June 2021 when Google announced that Page Experience and Core Web Vitals would also play a significant role in where webpages appeared in search results. While speed isn’t the only factor, it’s one of the most important. The overall update ensured that Google would pay more attention not only to what’s on a specific page but what the experience is like for those that visit.
The Impact of PageSpeed Insights
A page’s loading speed matters both in terms of rankings and visitors. Most web users are accustomed to pages that load immediately. While most are willing to wait a few seconds for something they particularly want to see, anything over five seconds usually results in them heading back to the search results and going to a competitor. For most websites, that’s the last thing they want to see happen, so ensuring that pages load seamlessly can make all the difference.
It’s vital to remember that while PageSpeed Insights indicates how fast a page is and contributes to the overall user experience tool, it’s suitable for more than just measuring the speed itself. As noted, Google doesn’t share much about how its rankings are calculated, so access to a tool that directs website owners on what to improve is rare but very welcome.
The tool will recommend reducing image sizes, changing their formats, or modifying code that may slow a site down. Effectively, they’ve taken it upon themselves to ensure that websites serve visitors as well as possible. Of course, whether a site owner decides to implement those recommendations or not is entirely down to them. However, ignoring them can result in lost rankings and lower revenues.
The Role of Great Hosting in a Great PageSpeed Insights Score
One thing a PageSpeed Insights report won’t do is actively tell you to change your web host. This is because it takes no account of who the current host is, and Google would rather stay impartial than dictate where a website should be instead.
However, it won’t be surprising to learn that quality web hosting can make all the difference in how quickly a page loads. Of course, it’s not the only factor, but it comes down to physics. A webpage simply cannot load any faster than the hosting package allows.
Some sites rely on out-of-the-box solutions. Others, especially larger and corporate sites, have more specific hosting requirements that enable them to carry out everything from network discovery to deploying all-powerful eCommerce systems to rival even Amazon.
Fast hosting can add significant amounts to any PageSpeed Insights score, no matter the purpose. Even the fastest hosts around won’t score a perfect 100/100 on the tool without further optimization – a poorly coded WordPress theme, for example, can drag even the otherwise fastest sites down. A great theme, on the other hand,
However, when visitors expect to see something instantly when they arrive on your site, there’s no reason to let hosting drag you down.