If you don’t check on your site’s page load speeds every once in a while, you could have visitors experiencing very slow loads without ever knowing! Also, when Google is ranking a page they definitely take into consideration the load speed. They want people to have a good web experience so two similar pages, but with vastly different speeds, will cause the faster page to rank higher.
Where to check page load speed?
My favorite place to check is just within Google Analytics (GA). That way you can see the results from a bunch of pages at once rather than testing every page on the site manually. GA will also give you a link to re-test a specific page and get suggestions on how to improve the speed.
If you DO want to check one or more pages manually, you can go directly to the page speed insights testing page that Google provides for free.
What’s a good score?
In the 50s and 60s, like in the walkthrough video below, is definitely NOT good. The homepage for this site scores a 90 right now. I’ve seen many pages in the high 80s and low 90s and that seems to be a great range. Anything below 80 is certainly worth looking into.
Most common page load speed issues
The top load speed issue I see is image optimization. Most people – at least people new to blogging or other website work – don’t think about the size of their images.
Well, they think about the visual size but they don’t think about the file size. The larger the file size, the longer it takes to download. Beautiful hi-res images can be HUGE and really slow down a site. I try to remember to optimize all images before I upload them to a site. Sometimes I forget though – and Google never fails to catch it.
Browser caching is another optimization area. This setting is usually per-site so you only need to deal with it once. Set it once and it should never show as an issue again.
The third most common issue I see is compression. This is also a site-wide setting. When compression is enabled it tells the web server to compress data before it sends it to the browser. Again, smaller is always better. Compressed data is going to be smaller and therefor will download and display faster for the visitor.
I’ll cover making changes to caching and compression in a different post. Hopefully I’ll remember to come back here and add a link. In case I forget, let me know in the comments below. 🙂
Here’s a video walkthrough showing where to find the information in Google Analytics, and then what the sample results look like on a slow page.