How Site Speed Affects Your Business (and what you can do about it)
Have you got the perfect website but people seem to leave before giving it a chance? Feel like you’re back on a dial up connection when using your backend? Does your mum always ring you up telling you she can’t load your website to show to her friends?
You may have an issue with your page speed optimization.
The following is a quick guide surrounding everything page speed, hope you learn something!
How does my website’s speed affect my business?
The speed of your website affects your business in more ways than you might realise. Not only does a higher page speed decrease the bounce rate of your website significantly (more on that below), page speed is also a verified ranking factor brought into consideration by google.
The graph below plots bounce rate against page load speed. As you can see the first few seconds of loading are by far the most important. If your site loads in 4 seconds you could be losing up to 25% of your potential customers!
According to GTmetrix the average page load time is 6.9 seconds. This gives you plenty of space to jump ahead of your competitors in the eyes of google. If significantly less people bounce from your page than you competitors; it will go a long way to securing you a spot above them in the search results. A user is more likely to engage with a site that loads fast. When you consider that bounce rate is a metric used to assess quality by Google, site speed becomes even more important.
How do I find my page speed?
I use two separate tools to accurately measure page load speed and the elements that effect page load speed. GTmetrix and Google PageSpeed Insights.
Google PageSpeed Insights
This tool is by far the best way to see your site through Google’s eyes in terms of page speed. It will give you two separate scores; one for desktop and one for mobile.
It is important to remember the tool does not directly measure your page speed. It gives you the scores based on how many best practices your site follows and to what extent they are followed.
For example, it is best practice to prioritize the loading of immediately visible content, however such a technique does not directly affect the end load speed of your page. It just gives the impression to the user that the page is loading quicker. Google takes this into account because it increases the quality of the user experience.
When Google PageSpeed Insights returns your scores, it will also return various recommendations on how to increase your scores. These recommendations sometimes come with direct references to elements in your site such as images or scripts. They also always come with a link to a ‘learn more’ section written by google about the specific issue.
This tool is far more focused on the actual time it takes for a page to fully load. The service offers two measurements of speed, which can be confusing. These are PageSpeed and YSlow. The two measurements essentially measure the same thing (page load speed) but do so with different calculations. According to GTmetrix “The benefit of GTmetrix is that you can analyze your page using both services, giving you different perspectives on how to optimize your code.”
The best thing about GTmetrix in my opinion is that it gives you a context to the results it returns. You receive the overall PageSpeed Score, the overall YSlow Score, the time the page took to fully load, the total page size (in kb/mb) and the number of requests the page made. If you hover over the arrow next to each of these results, the tool gives you the average score for each of those results. Presumably calculated from all of the sites scanned by GTmetrix.
The results page then gives you a rating for every single separate element that contributes towards the final PageSpeed and YSlow scores. If any of the ratings are any less than perfect, advice will be given in the same style as Google PageSpeed Insights.
GTmetrix also has the handy feature of allowing you to compare one site directly with another, to prove once and for all, that you are better (at least page speed wise) than your competition.
What’s the quickest and easiest way I can improve my speed?
Easy. Google PageSpeed Insights lists its results in order of which would have the most impact on your page load score. Some of these are easy to carry out, such as the optimization of images. Others will take a bit more knowledge of your website/server! As mentioned before each result links to a resource explaining more about that result. Of course if you’re too busy, you could always ring us!