While internet speeds continue to improve, it is nevertheless still crucial to ensure that your website or blog loads as quickly and efficiently as possible. Page loading speeds are one metric that is strongly considered by Google when it comes to ranking your site and even a slight delay can be enough to lose the attention of your visitors and to significantly increase bounce rates. If your site doesn’t load in the blink of an eye, then you need to find ways to speed it up and optimize it.
The best way to do this, is with tools that can help to show you just how fast your site is and just where you should focus your efforts if you want to improve that number.
Two of the biggest tools for monitoring and improving page speeds are Google Insights and GTmetrix. We’ll look at both of these free tools to see how they differ and which you should rely on.
The most important thing though? Make sure you’re using one of them. If you run a business and you’ve never run a page speed test, then you might well be losing a ton of traffic and visitors to poor performance.
Google Insights – AKA Page Speed Insights from Google – is a very accessible and easy to use tool. Head over to the link, enter your site’s URL and click analyze. After a very brief loading time, you’ll be given a speed out of 100 along with some recommendations.
Very helpfully, these recommendations are split into categories including ‘Should Fix‘ and ‘Consider Fixing‘. This way, you know what is most pressing. You can also view your performance on both mobile and desktop.
Some of this will be out of your control – server response times for instance may come down more to your hosting provider in which case you could consider switching. Other tips may seem very complicated. For instance, this is a real report from Google Insights regarding one website:
Your page has 4 blocking script resources and 10 blocking CSS resources. This causes a delay in rendering your page.
None of the above-the-fold content on your page could be rendered without waiting for the following resources to load. Try to defer or asynchronously load blocking resources, or inline the critical portions of those resources directly in the HTML.
This is the sort of thing that you might potentially find hard to fix on your own. In which case, consider using a web design company like Color Whistle who can handle the process for you.
Finally, other suggestions you should be able to fix relatively easily. One common suggestion for instance is ‘Leverage Website Caching’ which we’ve talked about in the past and which only involves the installation of a single WordPress plugin.
You’ll also find that you get a ‘User Experience’ score here, which is very useful for telling you about your mobile compatibility.
Don’t worry too much though if your page speed seems low. BIG successful websites like Facebook actually have a low mobile score (Facebook’s is currently 43/100!). The Verge has an awful 14/100 for mobile page speed and only 51/100 for desktop.
Do your best, but apply some common sense to the suggestions as they won’t all be relevant.
GTMetrix has long been a favorite tool for many webmasters with the biggest advantage being that it’s comprehensive and in-depth. As with Google Insights, all you need to do is to enter your URL and hit analyze to see your results.
Again like Google, it also gives you a ton of potential solutions which are marked in terms of priority. Many of these are very simple to fix – for instance you will get recommendations such as specifying image dimensions and optimizing images. Like Google Insights, it also shows you the things you’re doing correctly – which is a nice touch.
Interestingly, you also get a ‘YSlow’ score here, which is a tool that grades websites on a number of predefined rules for optimal performance. Again, some suggestions may not be relevant. Not everyone for instance will need or want to use a content delivery network.
So which of these tools should you use?
Well… both obviously. It only takes a quick go with these tools to see that they often provide different results and the more suggestions you can get, the better. Put your site through both of these and while you’re at it, try WebPageTest.org as well. This site gives you some more interesting information such as the time it takes to load a site for the first time, versus the time it takes to load the second time (as a result of caching etc.).
If you were to only use one tool though, then the recommendation would have to be that you go with Google Insights, which is likely to have the best impact on your SEO. After all, Google make the rules when it comes to search ranking so it’s best to listen to them!