Search Engine Optimization (or ‘SEO’) can be an expensive and often murky process. But ranking #1 in searches for your product or services can make or break your online presence.
Before Killeen Chiropractic, a small chiropractic company in Killeen, TX, started pumping money into their SEO campaign, they wisely addressed a big issue that would hold them back — failing PageSpeed scores.
The result produced not only a better experience for their visitors, but likely saved them thousands of dollars in the long run and will help maximize their return on investment in search engine optimization.
Poor performance isn’t a good way to start
Killeen Chiropractic wants to get serious about its digital marketing — which includes investing in search engine optimization.
Unfortunately for them, this year Google officially made ‘web core vitals’ (tests that measure the speed and performance of your website) a factor in its ranking decision — and their website wasn’t doing so well in that arena.
In order to maximize their investment, their SEO team recommended fixing the website’s performance issues before they got started in creating content and trying to drive traffic to the website.
Not only would a better-performing website give them a better chance at rankings (due to Google algorithm changes) it would provide visitors with a better experience once they arrive.
The only problem… How?
Their website was relatively small, not full of fancy bells and whistles, and was using some of the best hosting available. But still, it was only getting a 32 out of 100 on Google PageSpeed Insights web core vitals testing (a failing grade).
Why are loading times important?
In the most stemple terms, page speed provides a better user experience.
No one likes to wait for a website to load, or for content to shift around the page as more and more ads load in.
All of the studies show a direct correlation between the loading time of a website and how likely users are to stick around.
The longer a website takes to load, the more likely people are to leave and find another one.
You obviously want your visitors to stick around, click through multiple pages of your website, and eventually follow through on your calls to action (whether that be to make a purchase or contact you directly).
A better-performing website will make that more likely.
Because of this, speed has become an important metric for Google who has recently introduced ‘web core vitals’ as an official factor in their ranking algorithm.
Knowing that faster loading times (and all the other metrics that go into web core vitals) provide a better user experience, Google is prioritizing optimized websites to give their users the best experience possible.
The happier you are with the websites Google suggests in your search, the more likely you are to keep coming back (and your visits are how Google makes revenue).
Loading times are far from the only thing that Google uses to determine to rank, but it’s one of the few metrics that they’ve laid out clearly and provided an official test you can perform to see how you measure up against the competition.
Because of the clarity, and alignment with your own goals (providing a good experience for your visitors), it’s worth investing in to provide the best scores possible.
Formulating a plan
After I was contacted by Killeen Chiropractic and confirmed that better loading times aligned well with their goals of investing in SEO, I put their website through an extensive audit to try and figure out exactly why they were having performance issues. Poor loading times can be caused by a number of factors, and before I suggested a solution, I needed to know exactly what was going wrong.
Most of the usual suspects actually checked out fine…
The images were optimized, it was on good hosting, and there were no crazy animations, or heavy scripts weighing the website down.
Even though all of those things were done right, the software that was used to create the website had caused so much bloat that the website was taking nearly 6 seconds to load.
The only way we were going to get this website passing web core vitals was through a rebuild.
Thankfully, the website was in its infant stages, and their SEO team had the foresight to correct this problem before it got even further out of hand (a suggestion that likely saved them thousands of dollars in the long run).
After consultation with my client and weighing our options at how to rebuild the website (which included examining the current functionality as well as talking through future expansions and additions they’d want to make to the website), we opted for using the native “blocks” in WordPress (also known as the Gutenberg editor), along with GenerateBlocks.
Since WordPress is putting nearly all of their resources into the blocks system, this would help them future-proof their website (as much as you can in technology) and produce a much leaner code output that should drastically improve their performance metrics.
Our diagnosis was correct
Because of the size of the website, the rebuild was a quick and simple process — and was completed in less than 24 hours after we got underway.
This included rebuilding the Home, Blog, Patient, and Booking pages, as well as setting up templates for their upcoming blog articles and providing them with around 30 pre-made blocks they can use to construct new pages in the future (without having to hire a developer).
Our diagnosis was correct — switching from their old page builder (Divi) to the blocks system instantly took their website from a 32% score on Google PageSpeed Insights to the high 90’s.
Not only were we able to improve the scores dramatically, but we didn’t have to sacrifice anything in the process.
In fact, I made several suggestions for improvement while I was rebuilding, including fixing some broken assets, improving the mobile responsive views, and smoothing out the user experience.
After deploying the re-developed website back to their server and installing their marketing and tracking codes we ended up getting a consistent score of 94% on mobile and 99% on desktop.
There are a few more optimizations we could implement to improve the scores even further, but until we have real-world data on the site (from actual visitors) those extreme measures aren’t completely justifiable.
Now that their website is passing all web core vital tests (something that around 90% of websites online don’t do!), they can maximize their return on investment with SEO knowing that performance won’t be an issue that holds them back.
Do you have a slow website?
The best way to test your website is by testing it with Google’s official tool, PageSpeed Insights.
Testing is simple (just put your website address in the search bar and hit “analyze”), and you’ll be provided with a score between 0-100.
Anything between 0 and 49 is considered a failing grade and should be looked into immediately.
Between 50-89 is considered average, and is where most websites rank.
90 and above is considered exceptional, and only a small percentage of websites achieve these results.
Just because your website isn’t getting a fantastic grade on this test doesn’t mean you’re going to need to rebuild your website — in some cases, you may not need to do anything at all.
A good score is generally a positive thing, but it’s more nuanced than that. There are dozens of factors that come into play, and not every website needs to score a 90+.
But in order to make sure, it’s important to understand why your website might be struggling, and weighing out the benefits of investing in a solution to improve it — just like Killeen Chiropractic did when they came to me for an audit.
By talking with you and putting your website through an audit, we can objectively analyze what is causing your poor performance and if performance optimization aligns with the goals for your website and online presence as a whole.
I’d love to chat with you about your goals online and help you understand your own performance scores and what could be done to improve them. If you’d like to chat, fill in my quick inquiry form and we can schedule a meeting in the coming days to discuss (no cost and no obligation).