Page speed is a measure of how fast a website or a webpage loads. It is one of the key parameters used by Google to judge website performance.
Page Speed Definition
Page speed is defined as the time taken by a specific page to display content. It relies on several factors, such as the page file size, the site’s server, and image compression.
How Is Page Speed Measured?
There are three parameters to gauge page speed.
1. First meaningful paint
First Meaningful Paint is the time taken for the primary content of a webpage to display. It is the point at which the user feels that the primary content of a page has been displayed. The user can thus obtain useful information from the webpage at this point.
2. Time to first byte
Time to First Byte (TTFB) is the time it takes for a page to start loading results. It is often the initial few seconds during which the page displays a white screen.
3. Fully loaded page
Fully Loaded Page refers to the time it takes for a page to load its resources fully. It is the most accurate and reliable way to measure page speed.
Why Is Page Speed Important?
From a visitor’s perspective, a fast-loading page means less time wasted. For a website owner, page speed is important for the following reasons:
1. Page speed impacts bounce rate
A higher percentage of visitors leaving your site after viewing only the first page indicates high bounce rates. Site visitors don’t mind abandoning a website if its pages take too long to load. To retain their attention, it is important to have good page speeds.
2. Page speed impacts conversion rate
Your goal is to sell to every visitor that visits your site. If not, they should at least take some predefined action on your site. So, if your pages load fast, the visitors will stay longer, meaning a higher chance of a conversion. Usually, customers frustrated by slow loading speeds will leave the site, and with that, the opportunity to convert.
3. Page speed impacts user experience
Short page loading times and quick responses to user actions create a pleasant user experience. On the other hand, slow loading speeds can frustrate users, thus creating a bad user experience. Dissatisfied users won’t mind leaving a site.
Page Speed vs. Site Speed
People often confuse the term page speed with site speed. However, these are two different concepts.
Page speed is nothing but the time it takes for an individual webpage to load. This speed focuses mainly on the ON-page attributes of the web page and the page’s performance optimization. Page speed is an essential factor for ranking where some users access these pages on offline devices. If the displayed content is the same, the fast-loading page results in a better customer experience and deserves a higher ranking.
Site speed refers to the speed with which a site loads its pages as users engage with it. This time spans from the time the page loads, the click-through process, to when the users convert. Site speed reflects the smooth transition from visitor to buyer through the sale funnels set on your site.
How to Improve Page Speed?
A good page speed brings several benefits with it, from higher organic search rankings to better conversions, and more. Here are a few easy ways to improve page speed.
1. Enable compression
2. Compress images and media files
Image and media files on your website affect bandwidth usage. If they are large, they will use more bandwidth, resulting in slower page speeds. Downsizing these image files only in HTML does not affect page speed. That’s because it will only adjust the shape of the image, not the actual size. For better page speed optimization, compress these files and stick to using JPG, PNG, and GIF formats.
3. Improve your website hosting
Running your website on cheap web hosting plans often results in slow page speeds. No matter how hard you compress files and clean codes, the server’s speed won’t increase. That’s because, on a cheap hosting plan, you are sharing a server with a lot of other websites. Investing in a dedicated server or even a premium hosting plan will result in enhanced page speed.
4. Activate browser caching
It loads all your web page’s CSS, image files, and Java files whenever a visitor lands on your page. It causes the page to load slowly. Proper caching enables your browser to capture and store these resources for consequent entries. During repeated loading of the page, retrieval of files happens from the cache instead of re-downloading them afresh.
5. Use a CDN
CDNs (content distribution networks) are servers over which a site’s content is distributed. They are also known as content delivery networks. Ideally, it stores different copies of your site content in several data centers located in various geographical locations. With the help of these, users can easily access your site from the nearest reliable network.
Minification refers to the compression of website codes by renaming variables in them using shorter names. It helps in reducing code size as well as loading time. You can perform code optimization by removing commas, spaces, and even needless characters. Removal of code comments and proper formatting will result in faster speeds.
7. Minimize redirects
Redirects initiate a new HTTP request-response cycle. As a result, visitors need to wait longer for the added process to finish. It results in pages taking longer to load. Some redirects are indeed unavoidable, yet others are easily avoidable. Fewer redirects mean fewer HTTP processes, thus shortening page load time. Regularly check for any broken links and repair them quickly to avoid unnecessary redirects.
Tools to Check Page Speed
To optimize webpage speeds, one has to obtain data generated by different page speed test tools. As expected, such essential tools do cost some money. However, the good thing is that you have free alternatives offering the same services. These alternatives provide excellent analytics for individuals as well as small start-up companies. Some of those tools include the following names.
- Google Page Speed Insights
- DotCom Monitor
- SEO Analyzer
Pingdom is arguably one of the most known websites and page speed test tools out there. This tool analyses your website and generates a report which is typically divided into four parts – history, page analysis, waterfall breakdown, and performance grade.
Google Page Speed Insights
Google Page Speed Insights is an excellent speed test tool that analyses your website and rates it on a scale of 1-100. A higher score indicates high page speeds, while a lower score indicates the opposite. Generally, a score of 85 and above shows your website’s performance is good.
It is a free tool that analyses your website using both YSlow and Page Speed metrics. It then gives your website a performance grade ranging from F to A. GTMetrix generates a comprehensive report comprising of five parts. These are history, video, Page Speed, waterfall breakdown, and YSlow. Moreover, it also lets you choose between chrome and firefox browsers. You also get to test speeds for up to seven different geographical locations.
WebPage Test is a tool that allows you to test your website’s speed for up to 40 different locations. Additionally, you can perform this test for over 25 browsers, including the mobile version too. WebPage Test provides websites a grade in the range of F to A based on different performance tests. Tests include caching, compression, CDN, etc. The resulting report contains six sections, i.e., screenshots, summary, content breakdown, details, and performance review.
KeyCDN has a fast, handy website test tool for analyzing the performance of websites or web pages. You can test speed for up to 14 different locations. Interestingly, you get to choose whether to publicize these test results or not. The test results are comprehensive and include a visual website preview and waterfall breakdown at the bottom. Other data shown are the load time, number of HTTP requests, etc.
Dareboost is a convenient online application that is useful for testing website speeds. It is designed in such a way that it minimizes webpage loading time, thus boosting its quality. In short, Dareboost first analyses the website, then optimizes its performance, and lastly, provides tips for further optimization. In the free plan, you get to test up to 5 sites per month. This analysis covers several locations and gives results for both the desktop and mobile versions.
SEO Site Checkup provides a diverse range of easy-to-use SEO optimization tools. These tools are quite useful to help you better understand your site from various search engines’ viewpoints. One such tool it provides is the Speed Test Tool. It provides you with all the standard metric scores, advice, best methods, and suggestions for increasing your website’s speed.
Dotcom-monitor is an excellent website speed test tool that offers you up to 23 geographical locations to test your website. You also get to analyze it for seven different browsers. Its standout feature is its ability to test all 23 geographical areas simultaneously. Thus, it is unlike other page speed test tools that require you to cover the different locations separately. At the end of the simultaneous running, you can view each location’s report and waterfall breakdown.
Uptrends is more like an online website monitoring tool. It checks the uptime, overall performance, and functionality of your website, servers, and even APIs. In addition to this, Uptrends has a free website speed test tool. This test tool allows you to check for up to 10 global locations. It then gives you a picture of how both mobile and desktop feel your website.
SEO Analyzer is widely known for its role in SEO auditing. However, it is not limited to SEO checks only. It is equally useful for monitoring website performance, especially the speed factor. It allows you to conduct performance tests and generates individual reports for mobile and desktop versions. After that, your website is then categorized as either poor, fair, good, or excellent, depending on load speeds.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
As a website owner, your goal is to achieve the fastest speed possible for your website. To attain this, you have to answer specific questions about page speed. Some of the questions are:
Generally, a page speed of 3 seconds or less is considered acceptable. Google targets the speed of a blink of an eye. Thus, your page speed should be as fast as possible. If not 3 seconds, it should be somewhere close to it.
2. Why is page speed important?
Webpages that take longer to load tend to attract higher bounce rates. With that in mind, you should understand that your website’s user experience and SEO ranking depend on the page speed.
3. How important is page speed for SEO?
Google has revealed that it uses site speed in its ranking algorithm. Consequentially, your rank index is a reflection of how efficiently search engines crawl your website using their allotted crawl budget.
4. How to increase my Google page speed?
Increasing your Google Page speed requires you to perform specific technical and non-technical tasks. It includes optimizing content and images, as well as fixing your site structure, among others. Moreover, you can revamp old web content and invest in more reliable hosting to achieve this.
5. What is page speed in SEO?
Ever since Google’s Algorithm Speed update, it is understood that page speed is a crucial, direct ranking factor. Page speed also affects rankings in many other ways, including its influence on bounce rates and dwell time. If your pages load faster, Google can crawl more pages at a time, thus raising your website’s crawl rate. Similarly, high page speed increases the site’s crawl demand, resulting in Google crawling more of your pages. It boosts your rankings.
6. What is page speed optimization?
Page speed optimization is the process of refining your webpages so that they load faster. This process includes decreasing the size of images and using G-zip encoding. Moreover, moving your website’s JS and CSS into external files is also a part of this process.
Page speed is the foundation on which every successfully running website is built. It plays a vital role in your site’s SEO rankings, conversion rates, and customer satisfaction. To start optimizing your website, first identify the issues slowing down your website. Secondly, use Google Speed Insights or any similar tool mentioned above to determine the necessary action plan.
Remember, your website has only three seconds to convince visitors to stay. However, the goal is to wrap this up under a second. Two seconds won’t be bad either. So, never quit optimizing your site for different factors, particularly page speed.