Page speed test

Why is Page Speed testing important?

You probably didn't know but Google has been using page speed as a ranking factor since 2010. Out of all of the factors in play it probably hasn't been a huge one, but with the advent of smart phones it has definitely gained momentum and made more of a priority since the start of 2018.

I'd like to make it clear, It's not the be all and end all of search dominance, so I think it's important to note that you try not to become to fixated on external metrics and concentrate more on what you are seeing.

Pagespeed is important because searge engines want their customers (the users) to have the best experience possible. I encourage whatever you do, to do it for the user.

There are a few local optimisation techniques you can do that are completely in your control immediately.

Before I go on, I'd like to note that this article is geared more at site owners and webmasters that have control over their website and hosting. Unfortunately if you chose a propriety system like webflow, wix, weebly, squarespace etc etc then you are under their constraints and you should check with them directly on what their systems are capable of.

How can I check my website performance?

You will want to try some external tools that show you what either your users are complaining about your response times or what you are seeing in real life.

The first is speed test by google but also known as google insights. Its a great tool that helps you analyze your page data on mobile and desktop. Google dev team have improved the information on this page in recent times. But in my experience, it may not work exactly as what you are seeing in real life. It's a great starting point though.

The next set of tools are also great, but again, you have to take these with a grain of salt. If you have no experience in coding your site, much of the information is going to be useless to you. There are some optimisation tools you can use and I will go into those down the page.

Other sites I use apart from Google speed test:

  1. I like this site because it is free, the data is simple to understand and includes waterfall information so you can really direct your developers on what needs to be fixed. If you sign up for a free account you might be able to get a location close to you or your customers, which is also handy.
  2. It's more of a midway tool between Google Insights but still very handing and shows you network issues and errors and some info on what you can do
  3. Chrome offers a network speed test. Tbh I am going to gloss over this, because if you're reading this, then you're probably not a developer and you wont understand it. But on the off chance you are a developer and want to learn something new, click the 3 dots top right hand corner > More tools > Developer tools > Network. Firefox has a similar tool as does Microsoft Edge and the Brave browser (I love Brave, you can download it here and support one of my other projects)
  4. Another site from Google that promotes creating a faster website. It's a bit more simplified than Google insights and is geared towards you getting a fast speed for the 3g network. They show you a few facts and allow you to benchmark your website against your competitors. Worth checking out and getting your free report
  5. If you are already familiar with Google Analytics and have it installed you can simply browse to Behaviour > Site Speed. Checking any of the suggestions will run the page through Google insights but it's handy that you don't need to copy and paste and so on.

Is my website really that slow?

Before you start freaking out, there's a couple of things you can do immediately to make a slow website a bit faster.

  1. Host locally. - Look there are a bunch of SEO professionals that will tell you it does not matter where you host your website for ranking purposes and for the most part that is true. However, you should pick a host that is close to your customers. This will reduce latency - the closer the server is to your users locations, the less "hops" are required and the better experience they will have on your website. You can consider a CDN like cloudflare or sucuri but both of those will incur an additional cost to you. That may or may not be worth your money. I don't use a CDN on any of my own sites, I do use them on client sites where budget permits.
  2. Compress website at server level. cPanel hosting has a really cool feature, called optimize website. Like any changes that can impact your sites functionality ensure you have a back up of your site and database (if applicable) before you make changes. I can't stress this enough. If you're unsure, ask your host or a professional. If you're unlucky enough to be using some other server configuration then ask your host if a similar feature is provided.

Additional tools you can use to analyze and test pages:

Again it is important to avoid silo vision and becoming fixated on the analysis on response times. Sure, if you can see your site is suffering through slow load time then get on to it, but what counts the most is your users experience.

These tools are Wordpress based, though I may additional resources in the future.

I have no affiliation with the below tools. Be aware they can break your site. Take a back up before installing and using.

There are many free compression tools on the market but one I am quite fond of is Wp Rocket is a Wordpress plugin that you have to pay for the privilege of using. In saying that, after testing almost every other WordPress caching tools it is one of my favourites. The price is reasonable and with more sites, you get a better price. It comes with support included who will help you with a range of things including installation and configuration. If you have tried other tools and are fed up, then this is a great paid caching tool.

The other tool I will suggest if Clearfy I haven't paid a cent for this tool so far, so if you are looking for a free tool then this could be the right one for you. The GUI is simple to use and fairly self explanatory for beginner webmasters.

Alot of the time, speed can be outside of your control, like embedding a Youtube video or a script from GA or Tag Manager. Ask your SEO or preferably your developer how you can fix these. I will often see site owners uploading huge image files. A great tool that I use is jpegmini. If you are using PNGs then stop that and replace them with Jpegs but if you need to use a PNG then I recommend PNGOUTWIN

Did I get something wrong or leave something out? Make sure to let me know so I can update this article

Post date: 13/01/2020

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