Your website speed and user experience will be taken into account by Google in May 2021. Here are 8 steps to optimize your web pages.
Google has formalized the integration of web performance criteria in its algorithms. In May 2021, the Page Experience update will be applied and Core web vitals will be used to rank web pages. Here are some steps to follow to optimize your website and get good SEO results next spring.
To get started, take a look at what Google thinks of your site. On Search Console, Google’s free tool to “measure your site’s search performance and traffic, troubleshoot problems, and optimize search results, “ part of the side menu is dedicated to Improvements. Click on Essential web signals to access information related to your site speed.
You can then see the overall loading speed of your site:
This gives a good overview of load times, both for Google and for internet users, as Google relies on the Chrome User Experience Report ( CrUX ).
Search Console goes further: by clicking on Open report (mobile or computer), you get valuable information on the problems identified by Google.
Some actions you take may have an impact on both mobile and desktop. Rather, it is advisable to start by fixing the problems on mobile, since mobile-first indexing is applied to most sites – and will soon be the rule for all websites (this was originally planned for fall 2020, this has been postponed to spring 2021).
Also remember to solve the problems encountered on PC if your desktop audience represents a large part, if the number of affected pages is large or if the problems raised are major.
Above, we see 3 problems identified by Google.
This means that the user experiences interface lags when loading the page, an experience that Google does not like. The LCP designates the loading time of the main element of the page.
By clicking on a problem, you access a report very rich in lessons.
On the interface above, we focus on one problem: a CLS greater than 0.25 on mobile. Google automatically groups the relevant web pages, assigns them an aggregate CLS (0.37, this index corresponding to the lowest CLS for 75% of visits to a group URL) and shows similar URLs, on the right.
This step is very important because it allows you to understand the page templates that are problematic.
We just regret the fact that Google seems to rely on URL structures to aggregate pages and is not able to isolate separate page constructions when these pages share the same URL structure.
On the right side of the screen, you can test a group URL with PageSpeed Insights. This tool designed by Google allows you to perform an accurate audit of web performance.
The example below shows the report obtained for a web page that does not pass the benchmark test. If the Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) and the First Input Delay (FID) are in the green, the Largest Contentful Paint needs improvement. PageSpeed Insights also shows that First Contentful Paint (FCP) deserves a review.
Other data is communicated by PSI, so laboratory data obtained by Lighthouse to calculate the overall speed score. And above all: you access a list of opportunities, “suggestions [that] can help your page load faster”. Click on each opportunity for advice dedicated to optimizing the sticking points spotted by Google.
The workflow offered by Google, from Search Console to Page Speed Insights, can identify and resolve many web performance issues. By focusing on the elements reported by these Google tools, you should quickly see your Core web vital KPIs improve on Search Console. You will be ready for May 2021!
You can tell Google that an issue has been fixed by returning to Search Console and clicking Submit Fix. Google robots will then check that the elements have been improved. This step is not mandatory, because Google visits your site regularly. But this can help speed up the process by telling robots that they can check these elements on the pages concerned.
While Page Speed Insights can identify many loading issues on your web pages, other tools can be used. You can, for example, rely on reports from GTmetrix.
Good news: this service now uses Lighthouse to measure the speed of web pages and retains real added value, in particular via the Structure tab which provides precise advice to developers.
The problems are classified by impact to facilitate the prioritization of actions to be carried out. Bad news: the pricing has just been changed and the free plan is more limited than in the past.
Once these issues are resolved, remember that your score may change: you can decide to change the template of a web page, add images or videos, change servers or use other methods to cache. the resources.
Any changes made to your site may have an impact on the web performance signals observed by Google. It is also possible that your site integrates external resources.
It is therefore advisable to use a tool that allows you to continuously monitor the performance of your web pages; we have already mentioned GTmetrix, there are also other interesting services like Dareboost.
Also, don’t forget that you can test the web performance of your pre-production pages via Google Chrome (right-click, Inspect, Lighthouse tab).
You will be able to identify if new elements are likely to degrade your score and therefore, from May 2021, the referencing of your web pages. As web performance is fast becoming an SEO criterion for Google, it should also be an element closely scrutinized by development teams at all stages of the design.