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SEO Self-Assessment Series: Desktop Site Speed

Video 4: Desktop Site Speed

Today we're talking about analyzing the speed of your website. This is the fourth video in our eight-part, SEO self-assessment series. While there's no need to watch the videos in order, we do recommend following along so you can see which tools and tricks we use at Workshop Digital to assess client websites.


Hi, today we're talking about desktop site speed as part of our eight-part, ongoing SEO self-assessment video series. You can watch the videos in any order—we recommend watching all of them—but definitely go at your own pace.

So, desktop site speed is a measurement of how quickly your site is loading on a normal desktop computer with a browser with a high-speed connection. It's different from mobile site experience, which we'll get into in a different video. Today we're going to focus on how to measure and analyze your site speed and any obstacles that might be getting in the way of you providing a better user experience.

It's been known for years that search engines favor faster loading sites. They provide a better user experience. Google and Yahoo and Bing rewards sites with better search rankings: when they load faster and they keep people engaged; without waiting for the little spinning ball and the images to load slowly. All of those functions and factors create a better, more positive engagement level on your site. Not only is [site speed] good for your visitors, it's good for your search rankings—so pay attention to site speed.

Here's some of the tools and resources we use our Workshop Digital when we're analyzing websites—so you can apply these to your on site.

The first is Google Search Console, which we've talked about in several of the other videos in this series. But in particular, we're focused on the Core Web Vitals report of this of the Google Search Console. Core Web Vitals is a new section within Google Search Console and it encompasses all of the things that are critically important to desktop users and mobile users.

So, in this case we're going to focus on desktop visitors. It's going to highlight some of the issues that it sees with some of your pages. And in this case, on our own site, we need to do some digging into figuring out why our pages are loading a little bit slower than Google would prefer on some of our pages. Now I've looked into these pages—they have heavy, big, large assets; large images large reports; large graphics that sometimes take a little bit longer to download. And then there's always some server-side tweaks or pre loading that we can do to speed up the site experience. But it really gets into developer territory very quickly.

If you're comfortable on the backend of your website, tweaking and molding the site to make it load faster, great—by all means, take it on yourself. If these are recommendations you can hand off to a design or development partner, so they can go in and make the necessary changes, we highly recommend working with a qualified technician as well.

So, you can look at different issues across the website—whether they're just warnings or whether they are critical issues—and start to get a lot more information about the pages involved in which sections of your site are not providing a great user experience that Google is looking for. So, Google Search Console is the first tool.

The next tool we're going to talk about is another Google product called Lighthouse. Lighthouse is an automated way to scan your website and find those obstacles that are going to be causing your pages to load slower. It's a built-in Chrome browser tool, and you're going to find that in your View menu under Developer and Developer Tools (so, it's right here). It's going to pop up a little window if you're not familiar with this down at the bottom—it gives you easy access to a lot of great tools. You're going to look for the one that says Lighthouse, which gives you the option to test your site on a mobile device or on a desktop. And in this case, we're choosing desktop. Go on and click that Report button. It's going to take a minute, maybe two minutes, to run, depending on the size of your site—so, I've gone ahead and preloaded one. And this is the type of output you're going to see.

On the page that you're analyzing, Google is going to crawl and look for performance issues and accessibility components, and whether or not you're following best practices as prescribed by them for user experience in search engine optimization and so on. Now, in our case we already know we've got some work to do on the page load and page speed times. So, we're not surprised to see a performance score here in the 70s to 80s. That's okay—it's not great. It just shows us that we have some work to do. But as you dig in (and again, this can get into developer territory really quickly), you're going to start to see the issues and where the slowdowns are occurring as your page is loading—whether it's on the server side if your images are simply too large. Or if you're loading too many third-party scripts, or your JavaScript is taking too long to execute. All of these things can contribute in very tangible ways to the page load times and your user experience.

I would encourage you to spend some time looking at different Lighthouse reports for both desktop and mobile for your website that will help you understand where the opportunities are to speed things up quite a bit for your visitors. This page in this report goes on and on and on.

If there are any familiar or unfamiliar topics or terms, reach out to us—we're always happy to help at Workshop Digital. We see these reports, we analyze them all the time, and we partner with development teams to make sure we're prioritizing and tackling these in the right order. As part of your self-assessment for your SEO and your website, we encourage you to spend some time getting comfortable and familiar with these terms so you can take this and apply it to your own site.

Thanks for watching the fourth video in our eight-part series. For more information on how to analyze your SEO strategy on your own, check out the remaining videos below.

Learn More About Your SEO Strategy

Interested in diving deeper into your SEO strategy? Click the button below to learn more about our assessments.

1. On-Site Elements

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On-site elements are important for visitors as well as search engines. Learn if your site’s basic on-page factors meet these standards and cater to your end users.

2. Website Content

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Do you have a discernible content strategy that aids in copy and design decisions? Learn why visitors and search engines should understand your content.

3. Link Profile

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Search engines place more value on pages and sites with high quality inbound links. Learn more about your link profile.

4. Desktop Site Speed

(You are here.)

Watch the video

Search engines favor fast load times because they provide a better user experience. Learn more about your link profile.

5. Mobile User Experience

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Is your website accessible and easy to navigate on mobile devices? This video discusses your mobile user experience.

6. Website Analytics

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Learn why visitor and conversion data is essential to understanding how well your site is performing and identifying areas to improve.

7. Local Search Visibility

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Search engines place more value on pages and sites with high quality inbound links. Learn more about your link profile.

8. Historical Keyword Rankings

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Monitoring your digital footprint is essential for prioritizing opportunities and identifying competitors. This video reviews the importance of keyword rankings.