Page speed is absolutely vital when it comes to your site’s performance. Your pages must load quickly and flawlessly to increase user engagement and decrease your bounce rate. Beyond positively impacting your user experience, optimizing your site’s pages for speed can also help you climb up in search results for relevant keywords.
Understanding what page speed is and why it’s important is essential before you start trying to improve it. At the same time, it’s also crucial to recognize that page speed is only one of the many factors influencing SEO and UX, so you do have to decide where to invest your resources.
Luckily, there are a number of handy tools available that you can use to test your page speed and receive actionable advice and insight about how you can improve your score. Let’s take a look at what page speed is, how you can improve it, and five of the best tools you can use to test your page speed.
Page speed is pretty much what it sounds like– a measurement of the time it takes for a specific webpage to load. Many factors impact a page’s loading speed, including a website’s page file size, image compression, and server.
Even though the concept of page speed sounds simple enough, there are actually several different ways that the speed of a page can be measured.
Here are three of the most common:
It’s worth noting that page speed and site speed are two different metrics. While they both impact pageviews, UX, and conversions, and they are often discussed in tandem, they aren’t synonymous terms.
Your site speed is a metric that aims to identify how fast your entire website is by using the page speed for a sample of pages on a website. On the other hand, page speed refers to the speed of specific pages on a website. This means that you could have fast-loading pages on a site that is slow overall or a fast site with some slow-loading pages.
There are a number of different factors that can have an effect on your page speed.
Some of the most important ones include:
Your page speed is important both because of its potential to impact your search ranking as well as what it means for your UX. When your pages load slowly, people are much more likely to click away and head to another site to find what they’re looking for.
While SEO often involves a lot of educated guesses about what is and isn’t considered a ranking factor, this isn’t the case for page speed– its role as a ranking factor in Google’s search results has been confirmed.
That being said, how fast your pages need to load is another question. The speed that you’ll want to meet in order to benefit from this signal is ever-changing. These days, you will want to meet the minimum thresholds for Core Web Vitals in order to take advantage of this signal.
Every single second counts when we’re talking about page speed. According to research conducted by Google, a page that loads in three seconds versus one second will increase the probability of the user bouncing off the page by 32%.
If the same page takes only five seconds to load, there is a 90% increase in the probability that the user will bounce.
In short, visitors are much more likely to leave your site if your pages don’t load within a few seconds.
Beyond this, how quickly your pages load can also influence how your audience sees your brand. A clunky or slow-loading page can make your website look unreliable, and your brand looks unprofessional.
Before you go crazy making your pages load lightning fast, though, you’ll want to consider that the relevance of a page still outweighs the speed of a page. Understanding this is useful when trying to determine how and where to devote your resources.
Are you performing a full-on audit of your site? Check out this on-page SEO checklist to improve your site rankings. Once you’ve finished up with that, take a look at our recent post about orphaned pages and how to fix them.
How can you test your page speed? Here are five of the most popular and well-reviewed tools.
Google PageSpeed Insights (PSI) is a great way to measure the full user experience of your website. There are a number of different metrics that this tool reports on for both mobile and desktop devices. Beyond that, it helps to provide suggestions on how you can improve pages on your site.
You’ll find both lab data and field data about your site’s pages when you use PageSpeed Insights. Lab data might not be great at helping to find real-world issues, but it can be useful for debugging. Field data, on the other hand, has a more limited set of metrics but does a better job of capturing the actual user experience of your audience.
GTMetrix is a straightforward tool that is free to use. All you have to do is enter your URL and hit the “Analyze” button to find out how quickly your page is loading, measured against the context of the overall average page load speed on the internet.
The user interface of GTmetrix is clean and easy to use, and you’ll find that all of the info is nicely presented. They’ll rank potential issues your site might be dealing with in the order of perceived importance. Beyond that, they’ll give specific examples of files you might want to pay attention to.
If you’re looking for more data, you can upgrade to the Pro level to have access to page settings, alerts, monitoring, and a few other perks. That being said, there is plenty to explore and work with only using the free version.
Are you trying to figure out why you’ve experienced a drop in web traffic? Did you recently change your domain? Take a look at the six reasons you might be dealing with decreased traffic.
There are a number of services offered by Pingdom, including page speed monitoring, uptime monitoring, server monitoring, transaction monitoring, and visitor insights. Their free website speed test tool is one of the things they’re best known for, as it’s an incredibly easy speed testing tool even for those less tech-inclined.
Pingdom lets you test the speed of your web page from four different testing locations. Typically, you’ll want to choose the location that is closest geographically to the bulk of your user base.
Another option you can try is Uptrends. This website performance test tool offers a full suite of tools, including user experience tests, uptime tests, website speed tests, and network monitoring. One of the things this tool offers that others often don’t is the ability to check your page speed from different browsers, device types, and server locations.
Using data from Google’s PageSpeed Insights, Uptrends gives you actionable steps that you can take to improve your site’s performance.
Dareboost requires you to sign up for a free account after your first use, but you might find this extra step worth the trouble.
This service breaks down your page speed data into visual representations to help you understand your progress over time. It also visualizes through a video breakdown what your users see when they are attempting to load your web page and even reduces the speed to see the rendering order.
Now that you have what you need to test your page speed, what can you do to make your site’s pages load faster? Here are six steps you can take to make sure your pages load as fast as possible.
Images can greatly enhance your site, but they can also cause loading time delays. In order to make sure that you’re getting the benefits of images without dragging your page load time down, you’ll want to compress and optimize your images.
This process can include changing your image file formats, compressing images through lossless or lossy compression, and enabling lazy loading.
When your code is cleaner and leaner, it means that your pages can load faster. If you’re not particularly interested in going through every line of code with a fine-tooth comb, you’ll be happy to know that there are a number of plugins you can use to minify and aggregate your styles and scripts.
Your page can load much faster when you reduce the number of render-blocking resources above the fold. Beyond that, you’ll find that it can have a remarkable impact on your page’s Core Web Vitals.
Render-blocking resources can include things like unnecessary media files, external fonts that don’t need to be used and take too long to load, unnecessary plugins, and code bloat.
The short story is that you can delay loading heavy JS files that are below the fold your user isn’t even close to engaging with. This can help to make sure that you aren’t penalized by search engines or plagued with high bounce rates without sacrificing your necessary JS assets.
Perhaps one of the most effective ways to make your pages load faster is through caching. When you cache your web pages, it means that copies of your site’s files are stored in a way that reduces work for the server down the road when they need to deliver a page to a user’s browser.
This means that the server doesn’t need as many resources to load your page, which in turn helps to lower time to first byte.
You can cache your web pages at the server level or by using a caching plugin.
You can also improve page loading speeds by enabling browser caching.
Managing a website can feel like a full-time job, and keeping up with the ever-changing SEO landscape can be a big headache. If you want to bring more traffic to your site but you don’t want to spend your free time researching SEO trends and tactics, you might consider hiring a professional digital marketing agency.
At Blue Pig Media, we offer a full suite of services for businesses of all sizes. We’ll design and develop your website, create a content strategy, launch PPC and social marketing campaigns, and optimize your site for search engines, all so you can focus your energy on what you’re best at: running your business.
It’s our mission to help your company stay one step ahead of the competition at all times. Using our extensive knowledge of SEO, digital marketing, and web design, we can help you grow and expand your market. Whatever your business goals are, we want to help you meet them with a tailor-made solution just for you.
So, what do you think? If that all sounds good to you, contact us today to get started.