In the digital age that we live in, your website serves as your online identity. Therefore, having a great website that is lightning-fast can literally dictate your success. Gone are the days when merely having a website was enough. Now, it is all about performance in a world of cut-throat competition. And when it comes to performance, page speed is the number one metric for a website.
Before discussing how to properly run a website page speed test, let’s examine why it matters in the first place.</b>
##Why Fast Website Page Speed Matters There are a number of reasons why page speed matters for a website. However, the below four reasons are the most important ones. It is important to have a good understanding of these to be able to make your website game strong.
###1. Better User Experience There is absolutely no doubt that a fast website provides users with a much better experience. This too contributes towards better SEO rankings. Also, users don’t like waiting around for a website to load. So, they will be more likely to click away if your site loads slowly. This directly affects your conversion rate. ###2. Better SEO Ranking Google’s search algorithm takes into account your website page speed while determining the SEO rankings. So, if you have a speedy website, it could get placed in the first or second page of the SERPs. Of course, other factors would influence this ranking too, but speed is a really important one.
Also, having a mobile-ready website that loads faster than the desktop version will get you much better SEO rankings. This is because of a recent change in Google’s algorithm that favors mobile devices. Google did this because over half of the world’s internet traffic now comes from smartphones and other portable devices.
###3. Better Performance of Social Media Ads A lightning-fast website leads to much better performance of your social media ads. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook have stated that website landing page speed will affect ad auctions and delivery. If you want to actively promote your website, you should focus on improving its speed first.
###4. Better Performance of Google Ads This is another promotion-based reason why you should have a fast website. The performance of your Google Ads will depend directly on the speed of your landing page. It determines your quality score, the rank of your Google Ads, and PPC costs.
##Best Practices To Run Page Speed Test Now comes the main topic of this article. There are various tools that will allow you to test the page speed of your website (see list below). But no matter what tool you use, you should follow a handful of best practices for optimum results. These will come in handy to get an accurate overall picture that will let you know which areas need improvement.
###1. Make Sure Website Caching Is On This step precedes the actual speed test. Similar to how cache works on a computer, a website cache will store web documents. This can reduce server load and also site lag. Logically, your website load speed will vastly improve.
It is important to turn this feature on before running the speed test. Only then will you get an accurate picture with all the parameters optimized. If you’re not sure whether or not this option is turned on, you can contact your server hosting provider.
###2. Enable Content Delivery Network (CDN) This step should be done before the actual speed test too. Typically, all the files of your website (images, scripts, etc.) are served from the same server. But a CDN service allows you to serve these static files over a network of servers spread across multiple locations. Naturally, this will help reduce your website’s load time.
In addition to enabling CDN, make sure to check the performance of your firewall. A good firewall plugin like Sucuri will block malicious requests to your website, like DDOS attacks and such. This will also enhance your server performance.
###3. Run Multiple Tests Now comes the actual testing part. No matter what tool you’re using to test your website’s speed, you should do it multiple times. That’s because there are multiple factors that come into play while conducting a test. So, only testing it once may not paint an accurate picture.
Usually, it is recommended to conduct at least 3 tests. Then you can calculate an average of the most important values to know the true metrics.
###4. Test From Different Locations No, you don’t have to go to different locations and run speed tests from each place. Most tools allow you to test your website from servers located in different geographical locations. This is really important. If most of your visitors come from a particular location, you should test your site’s speed from that region. That will provide you with a better picture of the experience that people from that region are getting.
##Understanding Page Speed Test Results When you run a speed test for your website, you will be presented with a lot of metrics and numbers. But perhaps the first and most important one that you should take a look at is website load time. This tells you how long a visitor has to wait for your website to load. Try to ensure that it loads under at least 3 seconds.
In a study, it was found that 47% of the users expect a website to load in under 2 seconds. It was also revealed that 40% of the visitors will wait just 3 seconds before they abandon the site. In fact, multiple studies have shown that website speed is a critical factor in determining their loyalty towards a website.
If you’re getting slower speeds in the test, you should examine the resources that are slowing your website down. Things like images, stylesheets, scripts, video embeds, etc are the common factors. Usually enabling caching and CDN will solve a lot of these problems. Also, running a good image compression tool will help greatly by optimizing your images for the web.
There are many other things you can do to speed things up. Make sure you take your time and deal with most of them.
##List of The Best Speed Test Tools To test your website page speed, there are a lot of paid and free tools available on the internet. Different tools might give you different results. Your goal should be to conduct tests using multiple tools in order to improve your website. In most cases, the free tools will do just fine. To this end, here are five tools that are some of the best ones available right now.
###1. Pingdom Pingdom is a really popular choice for most people. Its intuitive UI makes it really easy to use even for the novice website owner. All you have to do is enter your site name and it does the rest. It presents the most important overview first followed by a detailed report. It even has suggestions to improve your website. Also of note, is that you can test your website from multiple locations.
###2. Google PageSpeed Insights If you’re trying to rank better in Google’s SERPs, it’s wise to pay heed to Google’s own page speed tool. It ranks your website on a scale of 0 to 100 which makes it easier to gauge its performance. You should aim for a score of 85 and above. The tool gives you a detailed report on how you can improve your site. But that’s not all. It also gives you insights into how you can enhance the user experience of your site on mobile devices. This can be really valuable.
###3. IsItWP Website Speed Test Tool If you’re a beginner with a newish website, this will probably be the best option for you. The website is simple to use and the performance report is easy to go through. It includes load time, page size, performance grade, and even improvement suggestions. You can go through each category of suggestions and make your website faster. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have to ability to test you site from multiple locations.
###4. WebPageTest If the previous option is best suited for beginners, this particular tool is geared towards the most advanced user. In fact, it was created by an engineer at Google, so you know it will be effective. This tool gives you advanced test options including multi-step transactions, changing connection speeds, content blocking, capture video, choosing browsers, and more. There are many other charts and reports that the tool provides which is basically everything you could get!
###5. GTmetrix This is yet another powerful and popular speed test tool. The great thing about it is that it combines the performance reports and suggestions from Google PageSpeed and Yahoo’s YSlow. It is pretty straightforward to use and even beginners can get the hang of it quickly. As with other tools, it presents you with the load time, page size, number of requests, and more data. Its waterfall charts are easy on the eyes that come with a ton of improvement recommendations.
##Summary As a website owner, your focus should be visitor-centric. So, logically, you would want to provide the best experience possible to your visitors. A lightning-fast speed is perhaps one of the topmost aspects of a good website. There are a ton of other benefits too. In fact, it can dictate the success of your website. So, to make sure that you’re getting the best speeds, you need to know how to run a page speed test properly.
It might seem a little technical at first, but eventually, you will get the hang of it. There are many tools that you can use to conduct a speed test. Most of these are free so it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. By using multiple tools and conducting multiple tests, you will get a bigger picture of your entire website. The areas that need improvement will become glaringly clear. Once you’ve addressed them, you will have a website that just runs like butter.