Back in 2020, Google experts’ reports confirmed that website speed is a ranking factor.
In as much that some SEO experts want you to believe that content and links are the two most important ranking factors.
Adding to what you have been told before about search engine ranking factors. User experience, core web vitals, site speed, and engagement are also significant factors recommended by Google.
Also, the number of time users spend on your website. Before leaving to another website is part of search engine ranking factors.
This article’s main focus is website speed and core web vitals. So you are going to learn how to optimize your blog to improve the site speed.
I will review some of the tools, and plugins, and how to set them up to reach the Google website speed test. Speeding up your site will hopefully boost your rankings.
So on May 28, 2020, Google announced that page experience signals will be added to search ranking factors. This includes measuring user experience when they are on a web page.
Maybe in your mind, you will be asking what are page experience signals. According to Google, there are core web vitals that include different metrics, mobile friendliness, and some other things to focus on.
Presently, we all know that people visit the internet more with their mobile phones than desktops. The introduction of “HTTPS”, helps users to be sure that the website is secure.
All these different things are also considered new Google ranking factors. Before going more deeply into these factors. I will briefly explain core web vital.
Core web vital
So the Google core web vital basically involve some of the metrics listed below:
1. Cumulative layout shift: This is basically for visual stability. It measures how your blog loads. So it helps to check the user website loading experience.
If there is a bunch of distracting stuff moving around the web page after loading. It signals it as bad page loading. It wants people to have a clean experience when they visit your website.
2. Largest contentful paint: This measures web page loading performance.
So basically user experience signal determines how users view your blogs, such as the site speed and overall experience.
You will see how to use these tools and know what to focus on, in the metrics to improve your page loading speed.
Website speed testing using Pagespeed Insight
Click here to visit the Google Pagespeed insights. The search box allows you to put any URL and not just your website homepage.
You can use the tool to test the loading speed of any page on your site. And you can also use it to test the homepage speed.
From Google’s perspective, the homepage does not really matter. Most internet users land on various pages of your site through search engines.
Blog post and website article page speed is an important ranking factor when it comes to outranking your competitors.
After adding the page you want to analyze in Pagespeed Insights. It will show you some results of the test, just like the one in the image below.
Looking at the result of my own content, you will notice it pass all the test on the desktop.
Basically, the desktop performance is 97%. The first contentful paint is good. So the page loading time is perfect. There are no cumulative layout shifts.
From the Google search engine ranking factor, this page speed and user experience are okay.
But on mobile, the result is not perfect. There is no cumulative layout shift, which is nice. But it takes a lot of time to fully load.
The page speed performance on the mobile phones is 50% which is not that bad. But with a small adjustment, the result will look perfect.
So when you scroll down, you will see some of the stuff that is limiting the page speed. You can click on any of the parts that are bad to see the suggestions on how to improve them.
For example, when you click on reduce CSS. You will see some of the scripts or plugins that slow down the page speed.
So you have to click on any of these parts that need improvement to see what is causing the problem.
Mobile is actually worst than desktop when it comes to loading full content. If you are using a powerful desktop and super fast internet connection. The page will load faster on the desktop.
Some of the reasons why the page speed score on mobile is poor can be traced down to the size of the content.
If the page has long content. It may somehow affect the page loading speed. So you can look for a developer to help you solve this issue. Or you can do it yourself if you are more advanced.
Page speed testing using GTMetrix
Gtmetrix is another page speed testing tool that I love to use. It is free, all you need to do is enter your URL on the test box and wait for the result.
To use GTMetrix to test your page speed, click here. Then enter your web page on the test box.
As you can see from my own page result, everything appears fine. The cumulative layout, total blocking time, and contentful paint.
These tests are not that accurate most of the time. But they help you view the speed performance of your page.
GTMetrix waterfall helps you see all the files on the page and how much time it takes them to load. The waterfall helps you to see some of the ways to fix web page speed issues.
Now, what can you really do to improve your site speed? There are various things to correct on your website to help increase the loading speed.
How to increase your website speed
I will cover some of the things that most professional bloggers do on their blogs to increase page speed.
Some of the things, you should look out for or hire an expert to help you solve are.
1. Cumulative layout shift:
It does not really have CLS issues. Neve is popular and has strong developers behind it.
There are some themes that can cause cumulative layout shifts on your site.
Another thing that can cause this issue is if your developer did not actually structure your site well.
If you have a good theme. Or your web developer structure and organize the layout of your site properly. The site will not have cumulative issues.
2. Pre-fetching third-party code
When you add a file from a third-party website, your blog will go to that site server to fetch the file.
For example, most themes use Google fonts. So your site has to load those fonts from other servers and not from your web hosting server. Which can be pre-loaded.
So if you are using any email marketing tool like GetResponse. When their pop-up appears on your web page to collect an email address. It will need the help of the Getresponse API to perform that action.
Another third-party tool most bloggers use is Google Analytics. This tool needs to interact with Google before carrying out any request.
When your site is pre-fetching data from an external source. It might affect the loading speed most of the time.
3. Preloading fonts
If your blog theme is using Google fonts. It will always send requests to its server to get the fonts.
But to solve this issue, you can load the fonts on your server. This will enable the font script to load internally.
4. Image optimization
Image optimization is a great factor when it comes to improving your blog speed. It is not recommended to upload large image sizes on your site.
When you have large megabyte image loading all the time on your blog post, it will reduce the loading speed.
Reducing the size of the image will go a long way in boosting your web page speed.
Best WordPress plugins for improving website speed
Their many plugins that can help optimize your blog for site speed. But the ones in my list are the most used by advanced bloggers.
One of the best WordPress plugins for improving your blog speed is WP-Rocket. The plugin is constantly updated.
WP-Rocket can help you preload your fonts and pre-fetch third-party codes. It can also lazy load images.
Using this plugin can be tricky sometimes. When you start combining those files it will affect how your site loads.
Always make sure to test how your site load, when using WP-Rocket to optimize your blog. Focus mainly on the things you want to defer and minimize them separately.
It can be very tricky when you want to combine those files. Make sure to use the right settings. Check out some of the best WP-Rocket settings.
Another great blog optimization plugin is Perfmatters. It can actually enable you to pre-load images on your blog.
You can use it to preload your logo and images that are consistently on the site such as on the sidebar or top navigation.
Use CDN to improve your blog speed
A CDN is a content delivery network such as Cloudflare. CDN services like Cloudflare basically help to organize and distribute your content and caching globally.
It helps to load your content fast in countries your server is not located. CDN can actually improve your website speed.
So if you are not using one on your blog. Try to use Cloudflare, their services are great.
Resize your images
Your images should correspond with the width of your blog. It can be 700 pixels or 800 pixels wide.
It should not be too long and condensed. You can either design the size of your image with Canva. Or use any image resizing tool on your Window or Mac PC.
Don’t use an oversized image. You can also use a WordPress plugin called Short Pixel. When you add the plugin to your blog.
Whenever you upload an image, it will automatically compress it and condense the image. It will also save the web p versions of the image.
This will help your blog load faster, once Short Pixel is activated on your blog it will compress any image you upload.
As you are focusing on writing content and building backlink. It is also important your visitor gets a good user experience when they are on your blog.
Steps to speed up your blog
Now you understand quality content and backlinks are not the only Google ranking factors. Site speed and user experience are also important.
They are steps to consider if you really want to improve your website speed.
Step:1 > Use a good web hosting
Web hosting can influence how much time it can take your blog to properly load. I recommend BlueHost.
They have amazing customer support and over 500,000 businesses trust their web hosting services.
Step:2 > Use CDN
Cloudflare is a great content delivery network you can use to speed up your website.
So sign up for Cloudflare, they have paid and free versions. You can use them if you don’t have money.
You can easily integrate it with your hosting, and DNS record. They also have a WordPress plugin that you can activate on your blog.
Step:3 > Use Short pixel
You can use Short pixel to optimize your images on your blog. Make sure that the images you are uploading are not too large.
Step:4 > Use WP-Rocket
Use WP-Rocket to boost your website speed. Try your best to set up the plugin properly, so you can get the best result.
Step:5 > Remove unused plugins
Always remove unused plugins. Too many plugins on your blog might make it load slow.
Eliminating plugins that are not important will help reduce the files in your server.
Step:6 > Enable caching
Using cache plugins on your blog will help improve the site speed.
WP-Rocket and Cloudflare come with settings that cache your site super fast.
Step:7 > Use Pagespeed insight and GTmetrix to test your site
Test your web pages with Google Pagespeed insights and GTmetrix to see the individual files that are affecting your website speed.
Then eliminate or fix them one at a time, so that your site loading time will improve.
Improving your website speed can be a bit complicated especially if you are a beginner.
I also face this challenge when I first started my blog. I have to go through each individual file trying to fix them.
Site speed is important but it is not as important as the content on the page and your backlink.
But you have to know that website speed and user experience are also important in Google’s ranking factor.
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