The Importance of Page Speed Tests

Jul 9, 2020
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Elegant design, quality content and great products are of no use when website speed or page speed is low. Speed optimization of websites holds the utmost significance for several reasons.

The first factor is the user experience. The users quit very early if the website takes much time to load. The Second reason is SEO. Google always prefers fast websites over slow websites. The third is conversions. The better the speed is, the more revenue you can expect from traffic.</b>

##The Page Speed Test & Website Speed Test

It is paramount, not to confuse both terms.

###The Definition

To determine the speed of a particular page of a website, we conduct a page speed test. This gives us the measure of the time content on URL takes to load.

To be more specific, the term refers to the length of the time it takes web pages or media content to be downloaded from the web hosting servers and showing up on the requesting web browser. This is the duration from clicking the link to the content popping up on the browser.

Site speed is the measure of overall website performance. The services like Google PageSpeed Insights finds various load times and aggregate them to give holistic measures.

Paid and organic search engines also penalize slow websites.

###Why Should You Conduct Page Speed Test & Website Speed Test?

In Google’s latest official update, which they refer to as ‘Speed Update’, they have declared slow pages to be damaging for organic rankings. As of July 2018, page speed is also a ranking factor for mobile searches.

User experience is one of the major parameters in e-commerce websites. Big brands with a strong international presence cannot afford slow websites.

Page Speed has a direct influence on sales and revenue. In shops, most Americans don’t wait longer than 15 minutes, in websites this duration declines to four seconds.

According to a widely quoted study by the Aberdeen Group, the following things result from a one-second delay in page speed of a website.

● 11% decline in page views. ● 16% fall in customer satisfaction. ● 7% reduction in conversions.

Even if an e-commerce website makes $100,000 daily, a one-second delay can cost $2.5 million annual loss.

Hence, it is very important for you to scrutinize the performance of your website. For that, conduct a speed test.

##Akamai’s Research 2017 Findings

Now we understand the fine direct proportional relationship between the number of sales and speed at which website content is being delivered. The following are some key findings of a survey conducted by Akamai, one of the world’s leading CDN services providers in 2017.

  1. 100 milliseconds slower page speed comes with a 7% drop in sales.
  2. The number of visitors abandoning their carts doubles when webpage loading speed increases by 2 seconds.
  3. 53% of smartphone users do not place the order if an e-commerce store takes over 3 seconds to load, and 28% of them never return.
  4. To get the highest number of sales, 1.8 to 2.7 seconds is the ideal loading time.
  5. Webpages that enjoy the highest sales, load 26% faster than others.
  6. If your website’s loading time is 250 milliseconds faster than your competitor’s, users will visit you and not your competitor.

##How Website’s Speed Influences SEO & Conversions

The website’s speed influences some 1% of search queries, as per Google. Given the huge competitiveness for particular keywords and other ranking factors, website speed has to come as a factor in rankings. The website speed has a direct impact on the bounce rate of visitors, and several other metrics, for example, time on site, average pageviews, exit rates, etc.

So it may also affect other soft ranking factors that Google does not eagerly promote. For example, links, relevancy, domain authority, etc.

Research has proved that Google might measure time specifically from the first byte when it considers the Page Speed. Slower page speed means that search engines can crawl fewer pages with their allocated crawl budget. It is harmful for your website’s indexation.

In 2011, Geoff Kenyon posted a reverse-engineered equation on SEOMoz.
y = 122.32e-0.31x

In the equation, the result y represents the percent of pages that your page is faster than. Meanwhile, x symbolizes the time it takes your page to load (in seconds).

##How the Website Speed affects the Conversion Rates

There could be many reasons your customers are there. It might be a pretty interface, clear privacy policies, or the best bargain. Maybe they are here because they found what they were looking for. But it does not matter. What matters for you is the path that brought them here. Cutting that path short, will convert more visitors to actual customers. The faster the website, the happier your visitors will be.

Remember the fact that 250 milliseconds give you a competitive edge. Have you done your due diligence to compare your page speed with your competitors?

For every second of improvement, Walmart got a 2% increase in conversions.

##How to Read Website Speed Test Results To understand the website speed test results, we should know the factors it analyzes.
The test results of the website speed test and page test have to be accurate and relevant. Only a precise result can help you make a smart decision, on what you can do to improve the page speed and website speed.

###Parameters to check the Improvement of Speed Test

Focus on the following factors to improve the accuracy of the test.

The Number of Tests: One-time test is never enough, due to changing traffic load. Conduct the test repeatedly.

The Test Location: Your policy for the location of the test has to be chosen in accordance with location of your audience. If you have a local audience, select the location nearest to the audience. If you have a global audience, test with many regions all over the globe.

The Test Subjects: For the better analysis, test multiple posts and pages. Hence you can figure out where the most optimization is required.

Nearly all speed test tools let you choose from different testing locations. This is important, as it all relates to the data center where your website is located.

The best is to test your website from one location near the data center and one far away. Thus, you can see how much impact the CDN has on your website. To check the difference, disable your CDN temporarily and retest.

###Elements of Website Speed Test Results

  • Time to First Byte (TTFB) - The duration in which the browser receives the first information from the site.
  • Time to First Draft or the First Paint (TTFD) - The moment when the screen is no longer blank. For example, a background color change. It counts as first paint.
  • First Contentful Paint - Right when the first content element shows up. It could be the header image, part of navigation, or any other content element.
  • First Meaningful Paint - Users, here can see the primary content so they can see what the page is all about.
  • Time to Interactive - The duration of the page becoming usable.

Different website page speed test tools may give you different reports. Though, most of them will include metrics shown above, and suggestions for improvement. They will let you quickly know what is taking most resources on the web page by revealing information regarding content size by content type. Images generally constitute 43% of an average web page’s total size.

The primary purpose of speed tests is to point out the cause for delay and performance issues on your website. Nothing but content size and requests by domain information can expose those external services and scripts.

##How to Improve the Website Speed Test Results

Websites today are incredibly complex. Professional simplification can make an enormous difference. Start by fixing website structure, deleting outdated posts, and fixing redirects. The bigger your website is, the better it can get by speed optimization. Not only speed optimization is good for user experience and conversion rates, but it also affects the crawl budget and crawl rate. Googlebot comes around more often and gets more done when your servers are fast.

Pay special attention to these areas if you need to improve website speed test results.

###Minimize Time to First Byte (TTFB)

This is the time the website takes to get its first byte from the server. Google says it has to be less than 200ms. This is a server-side concern. Slow TTFB is mostly because of network issues, dynamic content creation, web server configuration, and traffic. Work on their optimization.

###Image Optimization

As of December 2017, images are 66% of the total website’s weight on average, according to HTTP Archive. Enormous images can slow down your website. It is critical to reduce the file size of photos you use in your blog posts and other content. Thanks to progressive technology, you can do it without compromising an image quality.

###Minimize the HTTP Requests

Browsers ask to view pages via HTTP requests. They send HTTP requests to the web server for the page in URL, to load it in the browser. The more images and scripts are on your page, the more HTTP requests will be required.

Here are some ways to reduce the number of HTTP requests.

● Combine the files. Try to have only one CSS and script file. ● Use CSS Sprites. If you combine most or all of your images into a sprite, multiple image requests become a single image request. To display the section of image you need, use the background-image CSS property. ● Image Maps - Today, image maps are not as popular as they once were. Though if you have contiguous images, image maps are an excellent way to reduce multiple image requests to one.

###Minify HTML, CSS and JavaScript Code

CSS, HTML, and JavaScript may have a plethora of extra, redundant, or even completely useless code. Just like the images, that data can slow your page. Reduce this number by minifying and combining your files. This is the best way to increase page speed. It cuts down the size of each file, and the total number of files. Minifying is the process that involves removing unnecessary formatting, white space, and code. It is imperative to eliminate extra spaces, line breaks, and indentation, as every extra piece of code adds to the size of the page. This way, they confirm that your pages are as lean as possible.

###Accelerate the Mobile Speed

Mobile is the one channel you cannot ignore. People use mobile devices more than desktops. Mobile is the key channel used to research products and services.

60% of Google searches were done on Mobile in 2018. If you optimize website good for mobile, Google will give you higher page speed and score and also include you in its mobile-optimized websites in search results rankings.

###Leverage the CDN

A globally distributed network of web servers whose purpose is to provide faster delivery and highly available content is called a Content Delivery Network (CDN). CDN replicates the content throughout itself so it exists in many places at the same time. When the clients try to access data, receive the copy nearest to its own location. Deadly bottlenecks are inevitable when all clients access the same central server.

The goal is to improve the user experience for your client, via efficient network resources utilization. Media companies and e-commerce vendors pay CDN operators for it.

Leveraging the CDN is thus imperative to get the best page speed and website speed. Exponentially expanding the international nature of e-commerce intensifies the need for professional CDN.

##In a Nutshell So, yes, Page Speed is an important area to work on. But do not overemphasize it. Many people, amid page speed scores, neglect other major areas like backlinks, keyword research, and quality content. Be cautious not to make this blunder unconsciously.

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