Skip to content

Need for Speed?

Faster is better.
The best way to create a fast website is to have a blank page.
Pagespeed is not important at all.
You can't make a fast website on HubSpot.
Mobile optimisation is not important as I am B2B and my website visitors all use a larger screen.

None of these is true, but some of the things we often hear. Let's explain not just the what, but also the why and how.


So what is page speed actually?

Pagespeed is a measure of how quickly the content on your website becomes visible and interactive to the end-user. This speed is not just a reflection of your site's coding and infrastructure, but also depends on a range of other factors like the user's internet connection and device capabilities. But as the page speed is really an umbrella term for the many different components, we should really look at the impact first.

In the age of instant gratification, a slow-loading website can be a significant deterrent for users, resulting in a poor user experience and significant increase in bounce rate. Moreover, with the rise of mobile internet usage, fast page speed is more important than ever. While you might think seconds, or even fractions of seconds, are insignificant, research indicates otherwise. In fact, even a one-second delay in load time can lead to considerable reductions in customer satisfaction, page views, and conversion rates. And a 10 second delay which is not that uncommon on script heavy mobile websites leads to an increase in bounces of +123%.

However, PageSpeed is not just about keeping your users happy. It also plays a crucial role in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Search Engine Advertising (SEA), topics we will delve into in the subsequent sections. Understanding and optimising PageSpeed can therefore significantly enhance your website's visibility and performance, leading to better engagement and higher returns on your digital investments. 

In this article, we will explore the importance of PageSpeed, factors that can decrease your page speed, and practical steps to improve it. Whether you're a seasoned web developer or a small business owner seeking to optimise your online presence, this comprehensive guide will provide you with valuable insights to improve your site's speed and overall performance.

How important is pagespeed for SEO and SEA

PageSpeed is a vital component in the complex machinery of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Search Engine Advertising (SEA). It works alongside various other factors, such as site and page traffic, the quantity and quality of backlinks, the relevance of content, location, and many more. SEO is a multifaceted discipline, and while many marketers excel in areas like content creation and keyword analysis, PageSpeed optimisation often proves to be a more challenging arena.

Take, for example, the website, dedicated to HubSpot's flagship event. At the time of writing, it scores a mere 22 out of 100 on PageSpeed. This low score is not an indictment of the platform or hosting service, but rather the result of certain choices made during the site's development and design. Unfamiliarity with speed optimization techniques can lead to suboptimal results, underscoring the need for marketers to gain a better understanding of this crucial aspect of website management.

In the world of SEA, the focus is often on platforms like Google Ads. However, the principles that govern the effectiveness of these ads are universal. Advertising platforms aim to maximize the number of ad clicks, which means the quality of the landing page is of utmost importance. A low-quality landing page, characterized by slow load times, can discourage users from clicking on future ads, leading to a higher cost per click for the advertiser. On the other hand, a high-quality ad paired with a fast-loading landing page increases the likelihood of future ad clicks. As a result, the advertising platform is more likely to prioritise and better position these ads, often at a lower cost.

For SEO, the logic is similar but also encompasses user satisfaction. Search engines like Google are dedicated to providing their users with the best possible experience, which includes serving results that users find satisfying and relevant. A slow-loading page can significantly detract from the user experience, and Google takes this into account when ranking websites. No one enjoys waiting for a page to load, so a poor PageSpeed can negatively impact your site's SEO, reducing its visibility in search results.

In conclusion, while PageSpeed is just one of many factors influencing SEO and SEA, its importance cannot be understated. It directly impacts user experience and satisfaction, which in turn influences your site's visibility and advertising costs. Whether you're a seasoned marketer or a business owner, understanding and optimising PageSpeed should be a priority in your digital strategy. In the following sections, we'll delve into the factors that can decrease your page speed and how you can effectively address them.


What factors decrease your page speed and how to address them.

The performance of a website, particularly its loading speed, can be significantly affected by several factors, including design choices, platform and hosting options, and the nature of the code used. 

Starting with design, the type of content a website hosts greatly impacts its page speed. Simple, text-heavy websites generally load faster than those featuring complex images, large video files, and extensive JavaScript. The term 'above the fold' in web design refers to the portion of a webpage that is visible without scrolling. Content that loads 'above the fold' can significantly impact page load times because these elements must load first, and if they are complex or large, it can slow down the overall speed. Thus, while a blank page might technically be the fastest to load, modern websites often require a balance between speed and delivering a rich user experience. A content management system (CMS), templates, and additional features like chatbots contribute to this balance but can also introduce unnecessary code, affecting the page speed. 

The platform and theme you choose for your website also play a critical role in determining its speed. For example, popular and highly-rated themes may not necessarily be optimised for speed, leading to slower load times. Similarly, while CMSs like HubSpot, Joomla, Wordpress, Drupal, etc., can provide fast load times, they often require additional plugins to optimise and minify the code, which can affect the performance.

Web hosting is another crucial factor. Some hosting providers, such as HubSpot, utilise a content delivery network (CDN) to decrease latency and improve resilience against threats like DDoS attacks. A CDN distributes your content across a network of servers located globally, ensuring that your website's visitors access your site from the server closest to them, thereby reducing load times.

How we measure page speed has also evolved over time. Google's Lighthouse Score, now in its 10th version, is a popular tool for this purpose. Despite changes in its calculation method over the years, its goal has remained the same: to measure the impact on the website visitor. Lighthouse v10 comprises six key metrics: First Contentful Paint (FCP), Speed Index (SI), Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), Time to Interactive (TTI), Total Blocking Time (TBT), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). Each of these metrics carries a specific weight, contributing to the overall Lighthouse Score【source】.

Lastly, the importance of lean and optimised code cannot be overstated. Code should be written in a way that unnecessary elements are not loaded on every page, complex JavaScript libraries are avoided, and images and videos are lazy-loaded. Lazy loading is a strategy that identifies non-critical resources and loads them only when needed, reducing the length of the critical rendering path and consequently, the page load times【source】. By writing optimised code, it is possible to control the load order of content, prevent unexpected layout shifts, and create a website that strikes the right balance between speed and design.