How do you check your website page load speed?

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

Images

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.

Caching

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.

What is browser caching? Well, if someone has been to your site before, browser caching tells their local browser to cache whatever it can. This can be images, but it can also be code – CSS, JavaScript, etc. Letting the browser cache certain things minimizes what needs to be downloaded from the server on subsequent page views. This can make a big difference.

Compression

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.

Happy optimizing!

Video Transcript

this video is going to be a kickoff to a series of short videos talking about optimizing the performance of your website specifically we’re going to look at some web pages and what Google says as far as their speed good or bad and also look at ways to be able to optimize those pages future videos will talk about the individual and specific ways to optimize walk through some options there and then also look at some speed improvements for right now let’s just look at some of the overall page timings and see if there are any areas where we can make some improvement I previously talked about Google Analytics this is Google Analytics for one of the sites that I manage if you look over here on the left hand side click on behavior and then site speed and then page timings this will give you an idea of some of the page speed load times this page right here for example loads percent slower than the average page on the website something is definitely wrong with that page right there some of these pages are a lot faster than average really if you look at the average the average probably being thrown off by this one page here right now so that’s definitely something we’re going to want to take a look at if you click on this little error excuse me arrow it will actually open that page in another browser window so you can see what the pages that page didn’t appear to look load horribly slow to me today but certainly in some of the samples it did for Google so let’s see what we can do about that another section here in Google Analytics is speed suggestions so we’re going to go ahead and click there this takes just a moment to run because Google is actually looking at some of your pages and analyzing them to see if there are some suggestions that it would recommend that you make this is the same page that we’re just looking at that was loading so much slower than average on the website and this is telling us that there are seven recommendations so let’s go ahead and click on the number there again it opens up another window this time it takes you to Google’s PageSpeed tools you can also go directly to this to developers.google.com slash speed splash page speed I let you enter any URL for any web page that you want and you can just click analyze it’s going to give you a desktop tab and a mobile tab you can see that it shows you what the rendering looks like on both of those instances and it’s going to give you a score this page is not doing very well at all I’ve never seen any page get a hundred but I’ve definitely seen some pages in the high s and in the s and and are just unacceptable so we need to look at what we can do to optimize that so possible suggestions that talks about right here the very top one is optimized images so if we go ahead and click the link it’ll give us some further details if we optimize the images on this site we can save kilobits so that’s a % reduction in the size of the images having smaller images means that the page is just going to load faster you know it’s less data that has to be downloaded to your user before the page can fully render so it’s going to be a better experience for them server response time this varies depending on host time and a load that’s going on your website sometimes the internet connection between the user and the server or the testing server and the web server there’s not always a ton that you can do about that but if you see this consistently high it’s something you want to talk to you where those Tibet browser caching this is another one it’s a fairly easy fix your web host can probably help you with that or I will show how to change that yourself if you’re running WordPress on Apache or nginx or something like that but essentially what this does is it allows the browser to cache certain information so if somebody’s been to your website before some of the images might be repeated across multiple pages of the website this will allow those pages excuse me those images to get cached on the user’s browser in so they don’t have to load from the server that can have a huge difference on impact on the load time render blocking job on CSS this just means that there is some code that is loading before the rest of the page starts some display sometimes you can actually make changes and improve this sometimes you can’t jQuery is just a fairly standard block of code if you will with WordPress I don’t know if there’s going to be anything that we can change with that style sheets fusion core so some of the stuff in social warfare this is related to one of the plugins I have here it’s hard to tell how much of a difference it would make messing with these or whether it would be worth any of the effort to do and sometimes you just can’t fix them so we’re definitely going to focus on things that we can fix so far we know that we can fix the image optimization and browser caching for sure compression this is another thing that we can fix also let’s see here some of this stuff is actually loading from a different website so it’s information it’s being pulled from an external website in which case we’re not going to be able to fix it yeah it doesn’t look like any of these are actually coming from our domain names so that’s actually an area that we’re not going to be able to deal with hopefully that’s not going to have too much of an impact minifying the HTML really just strips this the spaces the blank space out so therefore it turns into a smaller file to download same thing with the JavaScript strips out the spaces just kind of compresses the code and exactly the same thing also for the CSS so I’m hoping that by optimizing the images and also looking at the browser caching we can have a big impact on the performance here so in another video I’m going to go through make some changes and see what we can do there meanwhile definitely go check out your page speed in your Google Analytics or go directly to the developers.google.com/live speeds slash page speed enter on a couple URLs and test those out a lot of times you can have customers and visitors to your website that have a poor experience and you’re not even aware so definitely take the time to check that out

Brad Kingsley

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