As we begin to kick-off our posts in our Page Speed series we want to cover a few things that we think are important for those following along to know.
DO NOT WORRY ABOUT LETTER GRADES!
If you are running page speed test and are only focused on the fact you have an A or an F, you are failing your website.
Lets take a look at this example – you can see that the website has a few A’s, a C and a D. You can see also that there is a CDN being used – but take note of the LOAD TIME box.
Yes, that says 49 seconds.
But yet the grades are not bad and would give you a false sense of security.
WHAT YOU SHOULD BE LOOKING AT
Page Size – which is the “weight” so to speak of all of your files, the heavier the weight the slower the load time.
Requests – how many files, images and external items does the page have to look for to load the page the way you want. The more files it needs to find, the longer the load time.
PAGE SPEED TOOLS WE WILL BE USING
Below are the tools we will be using during our series so you may want to bookmark them to following along.
We use MULTIPLE tools for every website we review because each tool is a bit different. By utilizing several different tools to test for speed we are improving our odds of having a faster website.
Our preferred tool is webpagetest.org because we love that it runs several tests and returns an average! There are also a lot of great options to get more accurate information.
What about Google PageSpeed Insights?
Nope – we do not use it. Ever. Take a look at the image below – – this is a website that on other page speed tools loads in about 7 seconds or so…..but Google gives it a big fat 0/100 for both desktop and mobile.
IT DOES NOT EVEN GIVE YOU LOAD TIMES!
It just tells you all the things that it sees as wrong on your website — many you actually have no control over!
YOUR HOSTING MATTERS
Before we even kick off – we wanted to make sure this was noted!
If you are using a cheap unreliable host (yes, we are talking about GoDaddy, Hostgator, Hostmonster etc…) – no matter how much optimizing you do – you may never have the speeds you are looking for.
Please consider changing hosts before doing anything else as that in itself will help you with your page speed – as well as other things!
Here is an unbiased website hosting overview we created that can help you find a better host for your website and why the ones we noted above are so horrible.
THE VARIABLES WHEN TESTING
I want to make it clear page speed testing is NOT AN EXACT SCIENCE!
You can use 5 different tools – get 5 different page speeds, page sizes and other detailed information variances.
They should never be assumed to be 100% accurate!
Why is this the case?
Because there are a ton of variables! How the tool is coded and the information it is pulling, where the speed test tool is located versus where your website is hosted as well as where you are testing from. Location plays a large part in speed testing results.
There are just too many reasons to list that make the results so different!
HOW FAST SHOULD MY WEBSITE BE?
There is no magic number here – but think about how long you would wait for a site to load before getting aggravated.
Then there is also this quote from John Mueller from Google made on a support thread…
We’re seeing an extremely high response-time for requests made to your site (at times, over 2 seconds to fetch a single URL). This has resulted in us severely limiting the number of URLs we’ll crawl from your site, and you’re seeing that in Fetch as Google as well. My recommendation would be to make sure that your server is fast & responsive across the board. As our systems see a reduced response-time, they’ll automatically ramp crawling back up (which gives you more room to use Fetch as Google too).
So – what this means is that if your website takes too long to load – then that can affect your crawl rate — and you probably do not want that to happen! Limited crawls can mean missed pages, missed updates and a decrease in organic search growth.
But because we know you want a real answer we will say – we HIGHLY recommend you shoot for a load time of 3 seconds or less!
1) Make sure you know who your host is – and decide if moving is an option.
2) Run a page speed test on each of the 3 websites we noted above (just use default settings for now) – see how those 3 compare. If you want you can note them in the comments so everyone can see how they compare.
3) I recommend creating a spreadsheet — then you can monitor your speed, what you have done and what has had the biggest effect on your speed.
Have a column for Date, Page Speed, Page Size, Page Requests – and a column to note the work you have done!