Google Page Experience update shows just how critical site performance is

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James Middleton
James Middleton
June 14th, 2021

At, our mission is to make a faster internet and to do that by speeding up your online presence, through better performing video, website or downloads. It’s well known that a fast website increases user engagement, conversions, and gives your customers a much better overall experience.

Nobody likes waiting 10 seconds for a website to load and most people would simply leave and never go back. Google - as the source of a large amount of website traffic - is well aware of this and with every search algorithm update has focused on providing searchers with the best quality content combined with the best user experience the web has to offer.

The latest Google search update is no different but it has got us bunnies most excited. Officially known as the Google Page Experience update, it’s a set of new SEO ranking signals that Google will start releasing in the second half of June 2021 and complete in August.

Originally announced on November 20th last year, to ensure web searchers are getting the best all round experience the Google SERPs will soon start prioritizing website performance and page experience as one of the key factors when ranking your website.

“These signals measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page,” Google says on its developer site. Google will also draw special attention to high performing sites with “a visual indicator that highlights pages in search results that have great page experience”.

The need for speed; interactivity; stability

Of course, measuring actual website performance can be tricky, but Google has tried to concentrate this into three main metrics. Loading time, time to interactivity and the visual stability of the website. They call the methodology for this Core Web Vitals (CWV).

Search Page Experience Diagram (Source: Google - licensed under CC 4.0)

Core Web Vitals consist of three separate signals:

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

How fast the site or content loads. To provide a good user experience, sites should strive to have LCP occur within the first 2.5 seconds of the page starting to load.

First Input Delay (FID)

Measures interactivity through responsiveness to the user’s clicking, scrolling, and typing. To provide a good user experience, sites should strive to have an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

The visual stability of the page. To provide a good user experience, sites should strive to have a CLS score of less than 0.1.

CLS is less easily explained (there’s a good article on it, here)  as the score is based on the sum total of all individual layout shift scores that occur for each layout shift during the entire lifespan of the page. It is, however, an important metric for measuring visual stability because it helps quantify how often users experience unexpected layout shifts. No one likes it when they move the cursor to a button only to have the site rearrange itself and they click on a different link.

Overall, there has been a big push to focus on surfacing the best performing sites and an increasing requirement to making sure your website is properly optimized in order to hit the magic first page of search results. This is where the bunnies have your back.

Global CDN and caching: Every millisecond counts

One of the most important pieces of the puzzle to achieve great global performance for your web assets is a CDN. The world is a big place, and delivering files over large distances can be detrimental to performance. Bunny CDN brings your content closer by reducing the number of hops to your users. With our SmartEdge routing engine and a network of 53 PoPs we can cache your files around the world and deliver them to your users in milliseconds, not seconds.

This can have a dramatic impact on the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP). In fact, a great CDN is one of the key factors in website performance and pretty much a necessity to stay below the 2.5 second mark for users around the world.

This is an even more important factor if your website is heavy with static content such as images or videos.

Picture perfect: Image and static content optimization

Site performance isn’t all about how fast you’re delivering that first byte. As we see from the Core Web Vitals, it’s about the whole experience of using the site and how the page behaves even after it has loaded.

So, it’s also important to deliver content in an optimized way and not fall into the trap of using outdated formats or oversized files. It’s hard to believe but the GIF format was released 33 years ago and still makes up a large chunk of animated content on the web! No matter how fast a CDN is, delivering 2MB images will not deliver a good experience for the end-user, especially on bandwidth-sensitive mobile.

In the past, resizing and preparing images for your website could be very time intensive. Bunny Optimizer helps you resolve this in a few clicks by automatically compressing, resizing and optimizing your images and minifying your script and CSS files on the fly.

If you appreciate that the majority of mobile devices still struggle with connection speeds and latency, properly compressing and sizing your images can have a dramatic impact on the website load time, especially given the growth of mobile as the main access for websites.

On top of the automatic resizing, Bunny Optimizer also provides a powerful API enabling you to dynamically resize images as needed - no more manual work required.

There’s a real world example of this, here, where a customer of ours used Bunny Optimizer to convert GIFs to modern WebP files on the fly, reducing file size by a whopping 50-90% and reducing site bandwidth by 40%.

Optimized global routing

If you are serving a lot of dynamic content, we also have you covered. Thanks to our network spanning over 30 countries, Bunny CDN can act as the global gateway between your origin and end users. If the user is far away from your origin, this can cause large delays with the HTTPS handshake which can add up hundreds of milliseconds of delay.

By bringing SSL termination right next to your users, can greatly reduce the time required for security handshake. This is important because Google Search signals also include requirements for safe-browsing and HTTPS. We make HTTPS ‘just work’.

On top of that we then also use a keep-alive connection back to your infrastructure. This reduces connection warmup and provides an optimized route back to your origin for the best latency possible.

Static website caching on the edge

Static content is often a big bottleneck that we see. A slow server or an overloaded hosting account can easily add on seconds of load time, which will become an absolute no-no.

If your website is mainly serving static pages, can offer a significant improvement in load times by caching the actual HTML pages of your content on the edge. This way you can drastically reduce the load time of your pages and only send requests back to your origin in case of content changes. We do this for our landing pages and they are about as snappy as it gets!

Page performance impacts your bottom line

The takeaway is that although a good page experience doesn’t override engaging, relevant content, in cases where there are multiple options for the SERPs to show relevant sites “page experience becomes much more important for visibility in Search.” So Google is saying that a faster site can be the deciding factor in highly competitive content sectors.

Check out Google’s own PageSpeed Insights tool to get more information on your own site, here.

We’re excited to see more emphasis being placed on website performance and expect this trend to continue. It’s making the internet a more enjoyable experience for everyone and we’re determined to continue pushing to build a faster internet!

We expect many developers and webmasters will already be on top of the Google Page Experience updates and will have already made or be making the necessary changes. But this is an ongoing process. And there’s still time, as the update will begin rolling out in mid-June and complete rolling out by the end of August. So, hop to the edge and make your website fly!

Learn more about Bunny Optimizer