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The Go-To Guide to Page Speed Optimization (With 7 Tools)

Page speed is now considered one of the most important Core Web Vitals by Google, and is part of the ranking factors in terms of SEO. Learn how to check your page load speed and ways to optimise your pages to improve your speed, boost rankings and lower your bounce rates.

Did you know that your website’s page speed performance can directly impact the success of your SEO? 

Google’s Core Web Vitals report shows how search engines penalize slow loading websites. You'll see that longer page load times have a severe effect on bounce rates. 

Not convinced?

Consider this: 53% of mobile users will abandon a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load. The probability of bounces increases to 90% if a page takes five seconds. 

If your page takes six seconds to load - just one second more - probability that the user will bounce goes up to 106%. And at 10 seconds, the probability of bounce increases by 123%.

No matter which way you look at it: faster = better.

Fortunately, there are optimizations which improve poor page speed so it doesn’t have a lasting impact on your website traffic and SEO rankings. 

In this guide we’ll run you through:

  • How to find out how quickly your website loads with online website checkers

  • The optimizations you can make to increase your page speed

  • And more tips and tools you can use to boost your website speed performance 

Why is page speed important?

Google considers page speed an important factor for its algorithm when it comes to ranking pages.

Google measures the time it takes for a page to load based on "time to first byte", which is how long it takes for a browser to receive the first byte of content from the web server. 

A slow page is detrimental to the user experience, which leads to higher bounce rates and decreased conversions. Even worse, a lagging page can negatively impact your brand image, which hurts conversion rates and revenue growth in the long term.  

Is page speed a ranking factor?

Page speed is now considered one of the most important Core Web Vitals by Google, and is part of the ranking factors in terms of SEO. 

A sluggish page will not only impact user experience, but also means the search engine isn't able to crawl as many pages within its allocated budget, which makes pages more difficult to index and therefore rank in search results.

 

How to check website speed

In the early days of the internet, everything took forever to load. With today's lightning-fast internet speeds, slow page load time can seriously impact your search engine rankings and your business. 

That makes staying on top of your page speed is more important now than ever. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools to help you out. 

Running a speed test should be your first step if you’re wondering how fast your website speed is.

You can use a speed test to check your website speed in numerous cities worldwide. Many speed tests provide an analysis highlighting which portions of your site are the slowest to load.  

Why else should you use a speed test tool? Some speed tests, like Google PageSpeed Insights, will also give you suggestions for improving your website speed, which will boost overall web performance. 

As more and more users opt for mobile devices, making sure that your website is optimized for mobile should also be a high priority. When you benchmark your site speed, we recommend searching a few keywords related to your niche and comparing your site speed to that of a competitor by using a site test like WhichLoadsFaster

Let's take a look at some of the different options available:

 

1. Google PageSpeed Insights 

When it comes to providing incredible services for free, no one does it better than Google. PageSpeed Insights will tell you which changes should take top priority and provide you with step-by-step instructions for reducing file size and boosting page speed.

Google PageSpeed Insights tool

Source: Google

2. Pingdom 

It’s one of the oldest page speed checkers around, the Pingdom Website Speed Test works similarly to Google in terms of providing you with the specific information you need to give your site speed a boost. 

Pingdom Website Speed Test

Source: Pingdom

3. Webpage Test 

Webpage Test is free and easy to use. It provides a detailed breakdown of items causing your webpage to load slowly. You can also test your page using different devices and server locations to ensure mobile users get the same high-quality browsing experience as desktop users. 

Webpage Test tool

4. GTmetrix

GTmetrix uses a letter grading scale to demonstrate your website's speed ranking. It shows you what's causing your page to load slowly. Best of all, GTmetrix shows you how to fix it. One incredible feature GTmetrix offers is automatic alerts. If your site loads below a preset threshold, you'll be instantly notified so you can take action right away. 

GTmetrix tool

Source: GTmetrix

5. WhichLoadsFaster

When speed is a crucial factor in visitor retention, the last thing you want is for someone to bounce off of your site and onto your leading competitors'. WhichLoadsFaster is a great tool that allows you to see how your site performs against the competition in your niche. 

WhichLoadsFaster Tool

6. Bitcatcha

Bitcatcha is another server speed test that only measures your server speed. It doesn't offer analytics but works instead by contacting your server from over eight different locations worldwide and providing an average response time.

Bitcatcha

7. Load Impact 

Unlike the other server speed checkers we've reviewed, which measure site speed with your current traffic load, Load Impact gauges how quickly your server will respond under heavy traffic. But it doesn't provide an in-depth look at what elements are slowing your website. 

Load Impact Tool

Source: Load Impact

Is your website online?

While it’s likely you monitor your site’s uptime, one of the most important aspects of being a website owner is ensuring your website is online. If your page is visible (aka online) on your end but down for everyone else, it could cost you valuable website traffic, degrade your brand reputation, and cost you money at the end of the day.

There are a few website checkers you can use to make sure your website is fully operational, like:

  • Uptrends: This free website online checker works by sending a request from over 40 of Uptrends' 222 global checkpoints. Once Uptrends checks each response, you'll know if your website is fully functional, down in a few cities, or completely offline. 

  • Site24x7: Site24x7 tests performance and uptime from over 60 locations globally. Additional details you'll be provided include DNS resolve time, connect time, byte time, last byte time, and total resolve time. 

  • Host-Tracker: Scrolling down to the "check site" portion enables you to test your website's uptime and page speed, and you can even receive notifications if your website goes down. However, you'll have to sign up for a free trial or pay an annual fee to use that feature. 

  • Website Planet: This is one of our favourite website online checkers because of the additional information it provides. That being said, if you use a combination of a couple of these website checkers, you'll get all the details you need about your website's current performance on the internet. 

Sometimes website owners have connectivity issues, which you can take steps to correct on your own. But there are other times you may need to contact your hosting company if it is a technical or networking issue, hardware malfunction or more complex software issue.

Site Speed Optimisation: How to speed up your website in 10 steps

As we've mentioned, a lagging page can drastically impact your website's SEO rankings. Essentially, the time it takes your pages to load is determined by two primary factors: your server speed and how long it takes to load your website data, such as images, videos, codes, and plugins. 

Let’s break down the myriad of reasons why a website might be slow to load, explain what some of those reasons are and how to fix them. 

1. Reduce the size of your images

First off, using massive, unoptimized images is one of the most common causes of slow page load speeds. No matter how impressive that high-resolution image is, if the file size exceeds 1MB, consider using a smaller size. JPEG/JPG images also take up less bandwidth than PNG and GIF images, so we always recommend opting for the former when it comes to larger images. 

2. Reduce the number of HTTP requests

Excessive JavaScript, large images, and CSS can cause your page to lag, costing you valuable bandwidth. Reducing the number of files on your website and optimising your images, as we mentioned earlier, will give your website a much-needed bump in speed. 

3. Minify your JavaScript

While JavaScript plugins are invaluable in terms of providing exciting content, too many JavaScript requests can kill your loading time. Asynchronous loading is the best solution here. Asynchronous loading allows your HTML to load normally on the page and only applies JavaScript when the user interacts with a specific area on the website, boosting load time. 

4. Learn how to use cached storage

Using cache storage allows you to save your most frequent requests, which enables your website to access saved content from your cached memory. This speeds up data retrieval, which speeds up the performance of your entire website. You can cache queries, images, HTTP, and more. We recommend you store as much as possible in cached memory to improve overall site speed. 

5. Compress your content

Compression reduces file size as the data - images, CSS, Flash, JavaScript, text, and video - is accessed by a visitor's browser. Because compression services like gZIP, Pigz, and others package your information up in a single file, it speeds up your website's load time and reduces visitor bouncing.

6. Try out a CDN service 

A CDN - short for content delivery network - improves page time to load by rerouting content to the nearest physical server. Reducing the distance between the server and your visitors helps mitigate delays and delivers your content much faster than a server on the opposite side of the globe. 

7. Reduce the number of ads on your website

We get it. Ad revenue is a fantastic source of income for owners of high-traffic websites, and no one wants to take a pay cut. On the other hand, if your bounce rate skyrockets because your website takes too long to load, the ads are only hurting you in the end, not helping. 

8. Use less Flash on your website

Flash is undeniably appealing when it comes to creating a stylish, interactive website, but it can also bog down the page loading time like nothing else. Reducing file sizes or eliminating Flash from your website entirely will help, and you can use HTML5, which is similar to Flash without causing such a massive decrease in speed.

9. Decrease the size of your CSS stylesheet

Using excessive elements in CSS leads to a cumbersome stylesheet, so we recommend removing as many as you can without sacrificing website functionality. Minifying your stylesheet, a technical term that simply means reducing the file size, will improve your site speed. 

10. Get a different host

Not all web hosting services are incredible, so if you've done everything we mentioned to improve your page time to load and still have problems, it might not be your fault. Switching to a web hosting provider that offers optimization services will drastically increase your website speed. And you'll have the benefit of using a hosting service that knows what they're doing.

While many factors contribute to slow pages, you can see that there are a number of steps you can take to improve your web performance. No matter what's causing the problem, be it an excess of HTTP requests, massive file size, or uncached data, finding a solution is crucial to your bottom line performance. 

The takeaway

And that’s it! Now you know what page load speed is and how to check and improve it, it’s time to put what you’ve learnt into practice.

It’s not easy to rank high on Google by any means and challenging to keep up with its algorithm updates. That’s why we offer a Free Digital Audit and 6-month Game Plan to get you across the latest insights, trends, and opportunities. 

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