The Elements of Site Performance

Site performance. Site speed. Page speed. Whatever terminology you use, it all refers to the same thing: how fast a browser can fully load a web page from any given site. When it comes to maintaining and optimizing site performance, there are many metrics to consider. Here are the basic elements that you should be paying attention to, in order to maintain good site speed:

  • Browser Caching. Tell browsers to cache static assets like images, fonts, CSS, and JavaScript for a long period of time so subsequent page loads and return visits retrieve those assets from the local cache.
  • Image Compression and Optimization. The larger the size of the download, the longer it takes. Optimize and compress your images.
  • Server Response Time. Server response time, often known by time to first byte (TTFB), is the time it takes the webserver to respond to a browser’s request, which includes the HTML, CSS, JavaScript, font files, and any other assets requested. Reducing the amount of time this takes is a fundamental principle of improving page speed.
  • Render-Blocking Resources. Browsers (and Google) render pages. Ideally, they should start by downloading the HTML and above-the-fold images. Then, they can format everything with the CSS, followed by any interactivity performed by JavaScript. This process is impacted when the browser is forced to load and process render-blocking resources, like JavaScript and CSS files. Eliminating these render-blocking resources will improve browser processing time and reduce the time it takes to paint the page, and allow it to be interactive to the user.
  • JavaScript and CSS Bloat. In an ideal web world, the CSS and JavaScript embedded or referenced on a page would be nothing more than what is needed. Accomplishing this can be very difficult, especially for larger complex sites that use a content management system (CMS) or e-commerce application. Analyzing and reducing bloat in your CSS and JavaScript can go a long way to improving page speed scores.
  • 3rd Party Scripts. As JavaScript continues to get more popular, managing it has become that much more important. Create an environment where the assets served are only what is needed, or as close as possible.
  • Google’s Core Web Vitals. These are a set of metrics focused on user experience. Google will use Core Web Vitals as part of its organic search algorithm, but beyond that, these are important metrics that will improve your website visitors’ overall experience. The page speed elements described above all factor into CWV scores. It is important to regularly review and improve upon CWV metrics to aid your ability to earn more traffic and drive higher conversion rates.

Why is Site Performance Important?

Every user who interacts with your site will be impacted positively or negatively by how it performs. They want their information, and they want it fast. As a result, site performance affects every on-site strategy, tactic, and metric that digital marketers are focused on today. And, even the best-executed plans can fall prey to poor site speed.

Organic Rankings

Google has introduced Core Web Vitals as a set of user experience metrics that evaluate a website’s loading, interactivity, and visual stability. It will use CWV scores when assessing websites for organic search rankings. Poor site speed can affect your CWV results, which will in turn affect your position in the SERP.

And, this goes beyond Google; you can see a direct relationship between site performance and organic search results on any search engine that considers user experience as a ranking metric.

Paid Media Performance

Your Google Ads performance is in part determined by your Quality Score, a metric that evaluates a variety of factors to establish the cost per click and rank for a particular keyword. One contributing factor is landing page experience. Google even suggests decreasing load time and making your site faster to improve the user experience.

Improving your landing page experience = increasing your Quality Score = better ad performance.

Conversion Rates

Sure, site speed impacts a user’s experience on your website. But how does it affect your revenue-driven conversions? At Portent, we’ve conducted multiple studies on the relationship between site speed and conversions. The findings have been clear: the faster the site, the better the conversion rates.

Improving site speed is a clear and proven way to significantly impact the metrics that matter the most to your digital marketing strategy.

How to Start Optimizing Site Performance

You’re ready to put together a strategy to improve your website’s performance… but where do you start? We recommend beginning with a page speed audit, which will give you an overview of your site’s performance. Based on your results, you can determine what elements of your website need improvement and plan accordingly.

And remember, as the digital landscape evolves and continues to get more competitive, and as the rules and ranking factors continue to change as well, staying on top of your site performance will continue to become even more important. Auditing your site speed and optimizing for performance should be ongoing parts of your digital strategy.

Looking for More?

Website performance is a big topic, and we’ve only scratched the surface here. For more information on site speed, best practices for optimization, and how it impacts everything across the Digital Marketing Stack, check out the additional resources below.

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