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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.

Have you ever blamed the speed of your mobile device when a page performance on the internet declined?

Perhaps, speed issues had you enveloped in traffic due to excess ads and JavaScript. Facing difficulties in page load time is directly connected with delayed speed testing, browser cache and antivirus software.

When a site owner has received their page speed evaluation, the next they consider is the reliability of these tests and the processes through which they obtained them. Thus, it becomes important to know the essential process that determines maintaining a crucial chunk of your business.

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 - the 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, some optimization improves 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 

 

What is page speed?

Page Speed is a measurable feature that refers to the loading speed of content on a website.

Page Speed is a comprehensive term that measures mobile pages' loading speed and shows the efficiency and quality of a site. It is a decisive factor in ranking websites on Google's search results as a quicker page load leads to growth and a slower page load decreases visibility.

Further, Page Speed can be described as one of the leading SEO tools branching towards two types: page load time and time to the first byte. Page load time indicates the time taken to fully display content on a site and time to the first byte indicates the load speed for displaying the very first piece of content on either platform-mobile devices or desktop.

Why is Page Speed/Load 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 webserver. 

Internet users are constantly seeking answers and they want them quick. Thus, page speed is a crucial factor in determining speed affect SEO on search engines. In the mode world, Google makes speed matters an inevitable process, thereby forming the need for lower bounce rates and a higher rank. 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.  

Accordingly, page speed becomes an important online tool for reliable access on search engines.

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. Affected Google rankings dwindle a site's growth.

 

What Decreases Page Speed?

Page speed determines user experience and several factors contribute toward creating a slow site. A few of them are mentioned below -

  • Large JavaScript files on the website

  • Large CSS and HTML files that exceed 150 bytes

  • Increased redirects to other sites

  • Decreased browser caching

  • Images and Widgets

 

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 more important now than ever. As a website owner to stay on top of your page speed game you require accurate know-how of improving page speed score with the assistance of SEO tools available online.

Running a speed test should be your first step if you’re wondering how fast your website's page 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's PageSpeed Insights 

When it comes to providing incredible services for free, no one does it better than Google. Google's 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's PageSpeed Insights tool provides an analysis report on the performance of a page on both desktop and mobile devices. PageSpeed Insights' data is useful in field data - capturing real-world user experience and lab data - debugging performance issues.

Recent updates in Google PageSpeed Insights has allowed pages with insufficient data for a metric to gain valuable access to field data that will show proper PageSpeed insights and help site publishers in attaining perfect PageSpeed insights score.

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 analyzes load speed in two ways - synthetic monitoring and real-user monitoring. Synthetic Monitoring provides page speed analysis that helps website owners troubleshoot slow loading speed and Real-user Monitoring describes user experience based on device and location. Pingdom insists on page speed monitoring with Pingdom API that is responsible for optimizing images, creating the right file format, optimizing a blog post, handling image compression and reducing redirects. 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 performs site testing through the help of its strong toolkit that identifies jams on the website and offers free tools for checking speed scores followed by optimizing the dedicated server.

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's breakdown of your page performance is a detailed analysis of the following:

  1. Lighthouse Metrics - This system provides performance and structure scores primarily focusing on page speed.

  2. Audits - Audits describe user experience to lay factors that have to be considered for better performance.

  3. Waterfall, Video and Report History - These tabs give a detailed view of exactly how a user's site loads. This gives the site developer an overview of exactly what the users experience while visiting their site.

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 promotes a healthy and friendly competition that allows you to see how your site performs against the competition in your niche. This is a practical tool that helps site publishers to assess and evaluate the better quality of strategies in a realistic way.

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 offers a site speed tool that offers site publishers' with sale and conversion rates. They can later optimize images and JavaScript files.

Bitcatcha

7. K6

K6 is an open-source load testing platform that is owned by Grafana Labs. It evaluates page size and performs automated testing that provides pass/fail criteria for the entire page. K6 suggests testing page speed whenever a publisher is concerned about the scalability of their website. Testing through K6's tool involves evaluating server response time and returned errors. These fundamental aspects determine the growth of the business.

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 cache 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 the 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 the 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 several 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 a 6-month Game Plan to get you across the latest insights, trends, and opportunities. 

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