We’ve all heard the saying “time is money.” This is especially true when it comes to your website. In a world where everything has to be immediate and on-demand, nothing’s more annoying than waiting for a page to load. With 8-second-long attention spans (less than a goldfish), human beings have little patience for slow page loads. If you want to get your message across quickly, you need a fast-loading page.
Keeping the attention of prospective consumers isn’t the only benefit of fast-loading pages—they’re also important to your SEO campaign. An experiment performed for a SearchMetrics conference found sites on the first page of search results loaded in about 0.7-0.8 seconds, while sites on the second page loaded in 1.4 seconds. You can be sure of one thing: site speed is correlated with your rankings.
Of all the tools I use, I rely most on this. It reflects Google’s recommendations for how a given site can be improved. Although it’s not as advanced as other site speed tools, it’s definitely a great starting point.
GTMetrix gives you a score, as well as advanced recommendations on how to speed up your site. You can also get your Yscore from GTMetrix, along with the average page load time.
Pingdom shows you what elements of your site are taking the longest time to load. For example, if 52% of the load time is spent rendering images, you or your developer can take steps to help images load faster, thereby reducing overall page load time. Pingdom also tells you how fast your site is compared to others it tested that day.
After using these tools a few times you might default to a favorite, but we always recommend running each tool separately to perform a full analysis. Once this is done, you’ll probably have a laundry list of potential improvements. You’ll need to determine which ones are most important to address. In my experience, the following improvements are the easiest to implement and give the most substantial results:
Running images through a round of lossless compression doesn’t hurt quality, and it helps them load faster. All original data remains, the compression just removes excess and redundant information. If you were to decompress the images, all data would still be there (which is not the case with lossy compression).
Check your website one final time to make sure everything has been executed properly. Once you’ve updated some of the fundamental elements and re-checked your site, start performing monthly checks in your analytics account. The Site Speed report in Google Analytics will be able to compare pre-site speed analysis dates to post-site speed analysis dates, to continue monitoring and analyzing your site’s performance.