Is your website crawling along at a snail’s pace? If so, you could be preventing your site from becoming a viable marketing asset.
Beyond the obvious concerns about poor visitor experience, website speed is crucial because it is a search engine ranking factor. In a post originally published back in April 2010, Google stated that they “decided to take site speed into account in our search rankings.”
Translation: Keeping a slow site is likely keeping visitors away from your offering.
There are a few helpful tools for analyzing page speed and several possible causes that contribute to lethargic load times.
Google Analytics & Page Speed Insights
Any website that utilizes Google Analytics for standard marketing metrics and analysis already has access to a great page speed testing tool. Under the “Behaviors” reporting group, you will find several reports dedicated to “Site Speed”. Select the “Speed Suggestions” report.
This report will show you a list of your slowest pages with links to suggestions on a per page basis. Any click to learn more about the suggestions for each page will open Page Speed Insights. This tool will allow you to enter the link for any lackadaisical page and get a 100-scale score for both Desktop and Mobile versions. You will also see recommendations to fix issues that are contributing to sluggish page load times.
The Pingdom Website Speed Test is very similar to Google’s Page Speed Insights. The tool allows you to enter in your website address and produces a score on a scale of 0 to 100. Each time your site is tested, a different source location is used. For instance, the tool might simulate page speed from New York City or Sydney, Australia or Amsterdam, Netherlands as in the example below.
In addition to the overall score, Pingdom provides individual grades on common issues that decelerate pages. Each grade is accompanied with a list of offending pages/content with a link to Google Code resources that explains (in quite technical terms) what to do.
While Page Speed Insights and Pingdom help diagnose issues with page and site speed, Load Impact demonstrates how your website’s speed would be impacted with increased visitors. If hundreds and thousands of people flock to your site, how would site speed be impacted? Use Load Impact to find out.
The line graph below demonstrates how the site load time (blue line) remains relatively unfazed as more visitors (green line) access content.
Common Issues Contributing to Stagnant Websites
- Optimize Images – If you can reduce file size of images without compromising their integrity, do so with image compression and file format updates. More info here.
- Browser Caching – This is basically a site setting that informs the browser that it can and should load images and files it has already seen from the network as opposed to reloading them fresh with each return visit. More info here.
- Minimize Redirects – While some redirects are absolutely necessary, try to keep redirects low to improve page speed. Avoid using a chain of redirects in which one page redirects to another which redirects to the final destination. More info here.
There are several other potential settings alterations and technical hurdles that may be slowing your site down. No matter the root cause of the issue, carefully weigh the cost of fixing a problem with the severity of the issue itself.