“Slow, slow, quick, quick, slow!” But has your website lost the quick?
Is your website up to speed?
Do you know your website speed?
How fast does your Home page load?
If you don’t know, then it’s worth finding out because it’s becoming an increasingly important factor in your website being found. This is particularly true on mobile devices.
Google recommends: “Two seconds is the threshold for eCommerce website acceptability. At Google, we aim for under a half-second.”Google recommends: “Two seconds is the threshold for eCommerce website acceptability. At Google, we aim for under a half-second.” Click To Tweet
Google’s site speed factor only related to desktop devices until January 2018, when they announced the same standards would be used for mobile devices. Also, according to Google, 53% of mobile site visitors leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load—which increases your bounce rate and lowers your conversion rates.
Now is the time to find out your website speed and, if it’s slow, speed it up!
Why speed is important now
When someone visits your site, the first impression is all that matters. If your website speed is slow, it results in bad user experience and de-ranking. So, you need to optimise your WordPress site for speed for good results.
Towards the end of 2019, Google announced that Chrome “may identify sites that typically load fast or slow for users with clear badging. This may take a number of forms and we plan to experiment with different options, to determine which provides the most value to our users.” It’s all part of their campaign to move towards “a faster web”.
One option they are looking at for a slow loading website page is showing a message that states ‘Usually loads slow’ with a blue progress bar indicator. If your website loads quickly, you’ll see a green progress bar at the top. They showed the examples below:
They say their plan to identify sites that are fast or slow will take place in gradual steps. It will be based on increasingly stringent criteria with the long-term goal of creating badging for high-quality experiences. This may include other indicators beyond just speed.
However, you shouldn’t wait till they finalise this. Now is a good time to get ahead and find out just what your website page speed is. I’ve done this recently with several WordPress websites I manage and have been quite shocked by the results! I’ve continued to test other websites I use regularly. While many of them scored well for Desktop, the majority were slow on Mobile speed. Some only scored 1 or 2 out of 100 using the Google PageSpeed test!
But it’s not all about search engines…Website is not all about search engines ... user experience is important too! Click To Tweet
User Experience is important too
Page speed is also important for your visitors’ experience. Google published research on mobile website speeds back in 2017, Find Out How You Stack Up to New Industry Benchmarks for Mobile Page Speed. They found that most websites in every industry were slow.
Also, pages with a longer load time have higher bounce rates and lower average time on page. They found that most users who experience slow page loading times are less likely to purchase from the same site again:
In other words, it’s important that your website is up to speed and the best-practice benchmark is under three seconds!
How to find out your website speed
How do you find out what your website page speed is? I recommend two free tools:
PageSpeed Insights, Google Developers online tool that shows both mobile and desktop speed for your site;
GTmetrix, their Report Page summarises your page performance based on key indicators of page load speed. They use both Google Page Speed and Yahoo! YSlow rule sets.
There are other sites you can use, such as Pingdom.com, the important thing is to find out just what your website performance is.
PageSpeed Insights (PSI)
PageSpeed Insights (PSI) reports on the performance of a page on both mobile and desktop devices, and provides suggestions on how that page may be improved, in even more technical language than GTmetrix. A score of 90 or above is considered fast, and 50 to 90 is considered moderate. Below 50 is considered to be slow.
No site gets a perfect grade, in fact, it’s almost impossible to achieve. If you try to achieve it, by implementing all the suggestions Google PageSpeed makes, you could negatively impact your website visitor experience. So don’t take all the suggestions from Google PageSpeed too literally because sometimes they are unrealistic or impossible.
GTmetrix is a free tool that analyses your page’s speed performance using Google PageSpeed and YSlow from Yahoo. You add your website url and it generates scores for your pages and offers actionable recommendations on how to fix them though in quite techy language. It also gives you the fully loaded time which, ideally, needs to be under 2 seconds.
A Client’s Story
One of my clients, Copdock Hall, called me about six months ago for some SEO help. They’d had their website redesigned by another company and loved the new look and feel of it but were ranking so much lower than their old site and getting fewer enquiries. They’re a wedding venue so the website is full of images. It’s also mainly accessed from mobile devices.
I did an audit of their website. Part of the issue was that their images were missing alt tags, i.e., alternative text so that the Google bots could read what they were. The site was also incredibly slow, particularly on mobile where it only scored 17 out of 100. This was due to images that were too large and weren’t compressed so they were large files that took a long time to load.
My client was really upset as they loved their new website and were so disappointed that it wasn’t performing the way they thought it would. I reassured them that it could be improved and set about making the step-by-step improvements that I will cover in my new course.
The result was that the Fully Loaded Page time reduced from 16.7 seconds to 1.8 seconds. They were thrilled with the result!
I originally developed Stowmarket & District Chamber of Commerce’s website over 5 years ago. This was before website mobile speed was such a critical factor. Below you’ll see their original test results followed by the results after I’d addressed the main issues. In common with many websites, it performed much better on Desktop than on Mobile.
I tested the website on both Google PageSpeed Insights and GTmetrix before and after I made changes to improve the speed.
PageSpeed Insights results before
GTmetrix results before
As you can see, work was definitely needed and improving the ‘Fully Loaded Time’ was an important issue.
The results were definitely worth the effort!
PageSpeed Insights results after
GTmetrix results after
I freely confess to not getting 100% on a PageSpeed test usually! But it was a great feeling to achieve it without impacting the site’s performance. I was also really pleased with getting the fully loaded time down from 4.6seconds to 0.7seconds.
I’ve gone on to improve the speed with several other websites I manage though not necessarily achieving 100%! As I said before, you don’t need 100% but should pay particular attention to the Fully Loaded Time.
I don’t speak tech! I can manage basic HTML and CSS, which are two of the core technologies for building Web pages but that’s it. I’ve had to work hard to understand the tech-speak behind getting WordPress websites to load faster. That’s why I’m working on an online course Turbocharge Your WordPress Website in plain, non-technical language for business owners who manage their own websites. You can sign up here to be the first to know when it’s available.
In my next blog post, I’ll go through some of the main issues that are slowing your website down and give you some ideas of how to solve these.