Site Speed Series – An Explanation of Terms

site speed series
How fast and how well your website loads has never been more critical. There’s been a lot of talk around the upcoming Page Experience Update from Google. Website owners and SEOs have been optimising websites and making technical changes to ensure their websites don’t get left behind by this update, or they encounter some form of penalty.
 
It can be challenging to understand what all these metrics mean and how they may affect your website, and that’s what I will explain in this site speed series.

Site Speed Optimisation

Let me begin by saying that the need for a quick website is nothing new, and I’ve talked about this previously. We know that website users are impatient, and your website is slow to load; they will likely leave and visit a competitor site that will probably load faster.
 
This is not changing, and you should continue to emphasise improving your site speed. The page experience update takes this one step further. You’ve probably heard about Core Web Vitals (CWV). These are metrics that Google uses to help assess whether your website is providing a good user experience. I’ll go into more detail about each of them as part of this series.
core web vitals
As well as all of the existing ranking factors that Google considers (keyword relevance, authority etc.), they will also look at how you perform against these metrics. Google believes that “providing information about the quality of a web page’s experience can be helpful to users in choosing the search result that they want to visit.”
 
Googlebot has a render budget, and page speed optimisations for user experience (Core Web Vitals) are critical to how well Googlebot’s render budget is spent.

Measuring Core Web Vitals

Thankfully, Google has released several tools to help us get to grips with Core Web Vitals and understand where we need to improve.
 
One such tool is Page Speed Insights, which has been updated to include CWV measurements. If there are any pages that you are worried about, it’s worth entering your URL on the Page Speed Insights tool and analysing the results.
 
We also now have the Core Web Vitals report within Google Search Console. Only indexed URLs can appear in this report. In this report, you will find your URLs grouped by status, metric type and groups of similar URLs. The three metrics included in this report are Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). It is these metrics and more that we will be discussing in this site speed series.
An essential consideration in all of this is the two types of scoring tools. The first one is Field Tools, and the Second is Lab Tools.
 
  • Field Scores are actual measurements of a site.
  • Lab Scores give a virtual score based on a simulated condition that a typical user on a mobile phone may encounter.

Website Speed Explanation

In this series, I will be covering:

  • Total Blocking Time, 
  • First Input Delay,
  • Time to First Byte.
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