I know it’s upsetting and I know it probably seems like a chore, but if you’re not checking your website speed regularly you are nuts.
Not only will your visitors thank you for it in the best possible way (by spending more time and money on your site), a faster website can also help improve your search ranking too.
And it’s not hard to start measuring the speed (I mean scientifically, not sitting there counting as your page loads) or getting suggestions for improvements either.
So if speed is a concern (or even if you’re just curious how your site stacks up against your competitors) here are some of the resources we use for testing page speed (both for our own websites and for clients).
- Google Page Speed Online (also available as Chrome & Firefox web browser extensions)
- Pingdom Tools
- Y!Slow (available as an extension to your web browser)
What do these actually do? Well, they all vary slightly and no one solution is perfect, but depending on the service you’ll get:
- A speed ‘grade’ (A-F or a number out of 100)
- The number of seconds it took your page to load from one or more locations
- The ‘weight’ of your page (ie how much stuff (images, code, etc) a visitor has to download to view your page completely)
- Suggestions on how to improve it (and I don’t mean ‘buy a big server’, real actionable stuff that you (or your web developer) can do)
In fact you’ll probably find that, most of the time, most of the suggestions you do get will be easy to implement but will still give you a quick and noticeable improvement.
(For example, we recently helped a client go from a 70-something out of 100 Google Page Speed score to the mid 90s in just a couple of hours. We didn’t have to purchase any ‘stuff’ we just made some small tweaks based on the analysis we got from these tools).
Don’t just stop at your homepage though, check other key sections too, like a blog or product page. There’s no need to test every single page on your site but you should at least check every single type of major page. Often you’ll find there are real improvements that can be made across the whole site.
Of course page speed alone is certainly not a substitute for great content or a great product (and sometimes you’ll want to sacrifice a slightly higher page speed for a great feature that you can’t live without), but a periodic check to see how you’re getting on (and how your competitors are doing) should be the minimum if you are looking to squeeze every ounce of improvement out of it.
Don’t just leave it to your web team either, all of the measurement resources I’ve listed can be used by anyone so if no-one else is looking at these things in your company you can easily be the one who starts getting this measured, analysed and, ultimately, improved.
I’ll cover some of the more common improvements that can be made (particularly on the WordPress platform, which we recommend for most businesses) in a future post, but feel free to contact us in the meantime if you’d like some more advice or suggestions.