Speed testing

You get no points for guessing that speed testing involves measuring how fast your website loads, and whilst it may sound straightforward, there’s a lot more involved than you might think.

Website speed is very important—so much so that it’s one of the factors which Google weighs heaviest when ranking pages—that your website runs quickly and that your pages load almost instantly. If your site and its content take too long to load, Google won’t rank your site very highly or at all.

Waiting is a hassle, and nobody likes to do it. Whether it’s in a line at the shop, in traffic or for a friend, it’s everybody’s biggest bugbear and the same is true when it comes to the digital world. I’m willing to bet that you have quit while waiting for a website to load because it’s taking too long—I sure have.

It’s likely that your customers have too if your website takes too long to load. It is thought that over two-thirds of people will back out of visiting your site if it takes more than two seconds to load… that’s right, two seconds, especially if somebody is visiting from a mobile device.

Consumers have grown accustomed to instantly being able to access whatever they want, whenever they want it, and this includes your website. If they can’t get onto your site straight away, chances are that they will jump ship and won’t come back anytime soon.

If you are here because your website is running slowly, or you simply want to perform a speed test to figure out how it is performing, then you have come to the right place. I am a web developer and digital marketing professional who has spent years creating, redesigning and fixing clients’ websites in addition to handling their SEO and marketing.

With a little research and effort, you can quite easily get your website back to speed.

Who Am I?

For over a decade I have been working as a digital marketing professional, delivering my website development, design, digital marketing and search engine optimisation services to my clients.

I have worked with hundreds of clients—from individuals to large companies—to help them grow by building modern and responsive websites designed for the future, optimising content and web design to help them rank highly in Google and enabled them to reach the right people through targeted digital marketing.

By working closely with my clients and utilising my professional skills and experience, I have helped all my clients achieve organic growth which is measurable and delivers an outstanding ROI.

On this page, I am going to go over speed testing, what it is, why it’s important, how you can perform it yourself and what to do if these tests throw up any errors. Speed testing is easy when you know what you are doing, and by the time you have gotten to the bottom of this page you will be equipped with all the knowledge you need to perform your own tests.

All of what you are about to read can be carried out by yourself, however, I am here to help should you want or need it. Feel free to send me an email for an obligation-free chat at any point and for any reason.

You can also read some of the content on my blog which covers lots of things mentioned here in further detail, such as 12 key ways to speed up your website.

Speed is THE One Thing You Need to Nail

Your pages and other elements on your site must load quickly, and there is no skirting around this. If they are not loading almost instantly, you are going to struggle to rank. It doesn’t matter how good your site looks, how well it’s built or how amazing your content is—slow sites won’t rank.

Consumers expect a fast and reliable user experience from each site they visit. If you make people wait for your page to load, then they’re just going to head over to a competitor.

This isn’t helped by the fact that psychologically, consumers think that websites load slower than they actually do. When it comes to site speed, you need to do everything you can to make your site load as quickly as feasibly possible.

Of course, there will be times when you will face technical issues, server overloads and downtime, these can’t be avoided, but providing a consistently reliable user experience is something you can and should do.

Improved search rankings and happier customers are the only two reasons why high speeds and good website performance is so important—studies have shown that a delay as little as one second can

How to Begin Speed Testing

There are several free tools you can do to begin speed testing and compiling data. Without speed testing, it’s easy to overlook problems on your site which you would never become aware of. These problems can easily impact on the user experience and result in the above problems.

Remember, it only takes that one second for a customer to notice that your site is slow and that can obliterate a potential sale. I would recommend performing a speed test right now and let it run whilst you read the rest of this page. Three tools I recommend are:

  1. Google Page Tools

Google’s Page Speed Insights tool is great if you don’t want to download and configure pieces of software or programs. Just enter your URL and let Google do the magic. You will be presented with a comprehensive report which provides actionable feedback and insights. 

  1. Pingdom

Pingdom’s website, like Google’s Page Speed Insights tool, delivers a quick and simple speed test, all you need to do is enter a URL and wait for the results. When it’s completed its analysis, it will deliver a report outlining potential bottlenecks and areas where it found problems.

  1. GTMetrix

GTMetrix combines Google’s PageSpeed Tool with their own piece of kit to produce a software solution which instantly grades your website’s speed. It is the fastest of the tools available on the market and instantly produces a report which includes gradings and pieces of advice you can immediately act on.

  1. Google Analytics

Google provide some great free tools for web developers and although you may not think that Google Analytics is the obvious choice for a speed test, there’s nothing better. Although Analytics is not itself a speed testing tool, when you begin to dig into the data it produces you can get an understanding of your site’s performance on the whole. Plus, Analytics can tell you whether you are losing potential users—this is the most important factor of them all.

  1. Screenfly

Screenfly, made by QuirkTools, is one of the simplest speed testing tools you will find. All you need to do is type in your website’s URL and you will have site renders fed back to you from across multiple different browsing platforms such as Chrome, Firefox and Opera. It’s good to know how your website is performing across all the different available browsers… not everybody uses Google Chrome and Firefox.

Speed testing is the easy part—there’s not much which you have to do—and it is acting on the information your speed test uncovers which is the most difficult.

It wasn’t all that long ago when user experience testing was a long and difficult process which would see people such as myself crawling through each page on a website manually. Today, it can be done at the click of a mouse by using comprehensive and powerful speed testing tools.

I always recommend using more than one of these tools so that you can get as much valuable data as possible… the more you know, the better.

Improving Your Site’s Speed

If speed testing has shown that your website isn’t fast enough, there are several things which you can do to instantly make a measurable difference and dramatically improve your site and pages’ loading speeds.

Google has openly said that site speed is one of the biggest signals that its algorithms and crawlers use to rank pages. Plus, if your site is slow the crawlers will have a hard time indexing your pages as they won’t get to see all of them.

Here are a few of the best SEO practices you can use when it comes to improving your site’s speed. If you are having problems or speed testing has thrown up some issues, I recommend trying these tips out below and then running further testing.

  1. Compress everything

Use software such as Gzip to compress all your site’s files such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript. It’s best to ensure that all files on your site are below 150 bytes. Don’t use Gzip for images, though, as it won’t work—I will cover this shortly.

  1. Ensure that your code is simple

Your website’s HTML, CSS and other pieces of code should be as optimised as possible. Superfluous code has a huge role in slowing down websites and it’s so easy to overcomplicate things during the development process.

If you didn’t design your own site, then perhaps it might be worth getting in touch with a web design professional to look at the code for you.

  1. Use some form of browser caching

Web browsers such as Google Chrome collect a lot of information and cache it—images, stylesheets and so on—so that returning users don’t have to wait for everything to load again when they re-visit your site. You can use caching tools to control how long information is cached, and it is recommended by Google that it is set to one year unless you frequently change your site’s design.

  1. Implement images properly

One thing I see time and time again is images which are bigger than they need to be. If you’re displaying a 150x150px image on your site, then you don’t need to store it as a 1500x1500px image.

People become complacent and think that it doesn’t matter because your website’s design scales images for you. Whilst this is true, it uses resources to do this and it can slow your site right down and cause image loading times to increase.

Check that all your images are the size that they need to be—i.e. the size they are displayed as on your site—and that they are using the correct file format (.png for graphics, .jpeg for pictures) and that they are compressed.

  1. Use content distribution networks

These clever services store “copies” of your site in multiple geographical locations. When a user visits your site, the CDN will look at where the traffic is coming from and then send it to the location closest to them for faster and more reliable access.

It’s easy to get going with a CDN and they’re especially useful if you have a large website.

  1. Use Accelerated Mobile Pages

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) is an open-source project created by Google with the single goal of making the internet a better place for mobile users.

AMPs ensure that websites are consistently fast and perform well on all devices, and it’s a great idea to get involved with the project by implementing them to your site… especially if a lot of your traffic comes from mobile users.

How I Can Help You

Speed testing is an important part of running a website and it’s something which you should be doing regularly. It is very simple to do thanks to the multitude of tools which are available on the internet, and, in most cases, it’s equally simple to fix any problems that it throws up.

As a result, it’s something which you can and should do. If you have never done one before then I would suggest that you perform one right now, especially if you have been having performance-related issues with your site.

Should you want a professional opinion, however, or want to clarify any of the information you have read on here, then feel free to contact me. I have worked with several clients to get their sluggish websites back up-to-speed by using my specialist skills and knowledge to get their websites back in line with the latest web development and SEO practices.

Still Not Sure?

If you are struggling with where to go or what to do next then don’t panic, I am here to help you out regardless of how big or small your problem is. I would recommend taking time to perform further research on speed testing as it’s very easy to do yourself.

If you don’t have the time for it, though, or simply want a professional such as myself to handle it for you then I would encourage you to get in touch so that we can have an obligation-free discussion and go over the next steps.

Do you need help with your business?

If you would like to talk about getting your marketing where it should be, get in touch now.