Page Speed: Why It Matters & 7 Tips to Help You Improve Overall Site Speed
What is Page Speed?
However, a web page’s speed isn’t as simple as it looks. Several factors such as server distance to users, hosting, the quantity of content on-page, device, connection type, network, etc. — all play a role in influencing a website’s page speed.
Why Is Page Speed So Important?
Your page speed influences a web visitor’s perception of your business and determines if they’d be willing to purchase from you. In fact, 79% of online shoppers will avoid online retailers with website performance issues [*].
Since its release in 2010, Google has made page speed a ranking factor after running an internal study that showed that users spend less time on sites that respond slowly.
According to Google —
“Speeding up websites is important—not just to site owners, but to all Internet users. Faster sites create happy users and we've seen in our internal studies that when a site responds slowly, visitors spend less time there. But faster sites don't just improve user experience; recent data shows that improving site speed also reduces operating costs. Like us, our users place a lot of value in speed—that's why we've decided to take site speed into account in our search rankings.”
Later in 2018, Google made page speed an important search ranking factor for all websites based on improving user page experience. This means, if your website isn’t fast enough and users keep leaving, your search ranking will drop. And this has been proven to be true in a recent report from Unbounce that shows the bounce rate probability increases to 32.3% as page speed goes from 0 - 6 seconds.
Here are other stats to give you an idea of the importance of page speed:
- 1 in 4 visitors will abandon a website if it takes more than 4 seconds to load [*].
- 46% of users don’t visit poorly performing websites [*].
- Nearly 70% of online consumers admit that page speed impacts their willingness to buy from an online retailer [*].
- Yearly revenue loss to abandoned carts for online stores is approximately $18 billion [*].
- The highest ecommerce conversions occur between 0-2 seconds of page load time [*]
The bottom line is this — page speed impacts every part of your business, and even as little as a 1-second improvement can mean a lot to your sales.
3 Ways to Test Your Website’s Page Speed
1. Google PageSpeed Insights
The Google PageSpeed Insights is a free web performance tool created by Google to analyze your website using Core Web Vitals benchmarks. This benchmark grades your website on a scale of 1-100 on desktop and mobile. The faster your website, the higher your score.
Testing Page Speed Using Google PageSpeed Insights
- Visit Google PageSpeed Insights
- Input your website’s URL and click on “Analyse.”
- Analyse your results on mobile and desktop to see where you need improvements.
Depending on your score, you’ll want to optimize your website for the best performance. In our case, our website’s desktop version needs no fixes with a 99/100 score. However, on the mobile version, there are recommendations to review.
- To do this, scroll down to find two sections: Opportunities and Diagnostics.
With these recommendations, we now know where the problem is and how to solve it.
GTMetrix is a web performance analytics tool created by GT.net. The tool tests your website using a server in any location and scores your performance in percentages 1-100% and grades A-F.
Testing Page Speed Using GTMetrix
- Visit GTMetrix
- Input your website’s URL and click on “Test your site.”
- GTMetrix will analyse your website using one of their test server locations worldwide.
- Scroll down, and you’ll get in-depth details about your performance and helpful recommendations to improve your website.
- You can click on “learn how to improve this” to see how to improve the identified issues with your website.
Pingdom is also a free web performance tool that offers real user and synthetic monitoring of your website using 70 global polling locations. Pingdom also grades your website on a scale of 1-100 and A-F.
Testing Page Speed Using Pingdom
- Visit Pingdom
- Input your website’s URL and choose your preferred test location from the drop-down.
- Then, click on “start test.”
- Once you get your results, scroll down for a detailed breakdown of your page’s performance.
- You’ll also see where your page needs improvement and what you need to do to rectify the issues.
While all these tools help you test your page speed and give you recommendations on how to improve your website, we recommend you stick to using one. This is because the results from each tool use different approaches to testing your website, which results in little differences, as you can see above.
However, it’s not enough to want to improve your page speed. You also need to know what factors are affecting your page speed. Below are five you need to be wary of.
5 Factors That Affect Page Speed
Below are five factors that affect your page speed:
- Web hosting
- Server location
- On-page elements
- Internet connection
1. How does web hosting affect page speed?
Think of hosting as the foundation and your website as the house. Without a good foundation, your house will crumble. So, even if you have a good website, bad hosting will affect your page speed and won’t let users experience it.
Your web hosting is your server that relays information back to the browser for the user. If the server is slow, everything else will be slow. Now, three factors affect the speed of your hosting server, namely:
- Random Access Memory (RAM)
- Hard Drive
Your hosting bandwidth is the maximum data your server can transfer at a given time. Therefore, the larger it is, the more data your server can transfer without clogging the response-request channel.
Random Access Memory (RAM)
The RAM is the available storage your hosting provider allows to store your website’s scripts. More like what the “brain” of your website can store and process at once.
Hosting providers typically offer you two hard drive options: Hard Disk Drives (HDD) and Solid State Drives (SSD). These drives are meant to help you store your data to mitigate data loss or theft risks. Ideally, you’ll want to opt for the SSD because they are more durable, compact, secure, and consume less energy than the HDD.
Note: HDD and SSD both have size limits. So if the resources on your website exceed their limits, your page speed will become slow.
These three factors play a role when it comes to web hosting. And even more in your page speed.
2. How does server location affect page speed?
The farther your website’s server is from users, the slower your website will load and vice-versa. This is primarily due to the time and distance taken for the content to travel through the server to the browser, mainly referred to as “Latency.”
Latency is the time delay between the browser’s request and the server’s response to that request. Generally, there’ll be a delay between the browser and server during the user’s interaction, but this delay is supposed to be minimal. However, in cases where the server is far away, page speed becomes affected, and the delay becomes noticeable.
Let’s say your host server is located somewhere in Europe; chances are, a user visiting from Asia will have a high page speed compared to others from Europe. And even though this isn’t necessarily your fault, if most of your users are far from your server, it’ll lead to a massive drawback for your business.
3. How do on-page elements affect page speed?
Every asset visible to users on your page utilizes several resources to function properly. This includes your images, videos, texts, and other third-party integrations which take the bulk of your website’s processing power.
For instance, you run a website that involves uploading high-res images. If these images aren’t optimized well enough, they’ll drain your server processing power. And when this happens, your server response time is high, leading to a poor page speed.
4. How does internet connection affect page speed?
Websites load at the speed of the user’s internet connections, and this one is beyond your control. Users on 2G, 3G would experience a slightly slower page speed compared to users on 4G or 5G internet connections.
5. How does the device affect page speed?
Several devices offer different browsing experiences for users to enjoy. However, this difference has led to some noticeable downsides, especially for mobile devices.
Users found that browsing on mobile was a lot slower than browsing on desktop — which, to be fair, was due to several underlying factors that favor desktop devices.
For example, editing functions for some websites are available on mobile and desktop, e.g., a website like Canva.
We can see that Canva has a better page speed on desktop than on mobile when we run the test on Google page speed insights. However, this difference in page speed results in poor user experience because most functions take longer to load on mobile than on desktop.
7 Tips for Improving Your Website’s Page Speed
1. Implement Content Delivery Networks (CDNs)
Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) consist of a network of servers geographically distributed worldwide for faster delivery of internet content. With CDN, the system caches a copy of your website (mostly static) on several servers across the world.
This way, when users request your website, the CDN serves them a copy from their nearest server without having to fetch it from the origin server. As a result, this process reduces your Round-trip-time (RTT), latency, and overall response time of your website.
Pro tip → Edgemesh’s smart client + Cloudflare CDN offers an all-in-one solution to help you improve your website’s performance. The result? On average, Cloudflare customers see an 84% decrease in page load time within the first week.
2. Use The Appropriate Hosting Plan For Your Website
Bandwidth, RAM, and hard drive are the immovable parts of your hosting and they determine your website’s performance. As such, you’ll want to use a hosting plan that allows you to run your website effectively.
If you’re starting out, you’ll likely choose the cheapest hosting plan available. And while that's not entirely bad, it does come with some limitations. Generally, most hosting plans are split into three distinctive tiers:
- Shared hosting
- Virtual private server (VPS)
- Dedicated hosting
When is a shared hosting plan the right option?
If your website is new and you have a limited budget (next to free), then a shared hosting plan would work perfectly for you. Shared hosting plans come with easy integrations, low cost, and require little to no-technical knowledge to run or maintain —- especially for small websites.
However, this comes at the cost of limiting your website's bandwidth, hard drive, and RAM are all limited. Also, your resources are shared with hundreds (or even thousands) of other websites. So, if you exceed your allocated resources, your server response time becomes poor, affecting your page speed.
When is a dedicated hosting plan the right option?
The dedicated hosting plan is the best package for optimum performance if you run a large enterprise business with at least 500k monthly visits. Unfortunately, it’s also the most expensive hosting plan, as it involves dedicating an entire server’s resources to a single website.
The upside included customizable features and flexibility to fit your website’s performance demands. However, the downside boils down primarily to cost and maintenance.
When is a virtual private server (VPS) the right option?
Think of everything you get in dedicated hosting —- but at a lower price, and you get a virtual private server.
Virtual private servers (VPS) are developed in virtual hosting environments that help websites function using the resources from a server (or set of servers). When set up correctly, this VPS can function like a physical server with flexibility and customization features available in other high-end hosting options.
Another major factor to consider is the hosting server uptime. Generally, you might not see a significant difference between 99% and 99.95% uptime, but those negligible microseconds count.
Here’s a quick breakdown:
7 days a week equals 10,080 minutes. With a 1% downtime, you’re looking at potentially 108 minutes of your website going dead per week. That’s roughly 2 hours weekly and 8 hours monthly.
As you can see, 99% uptime turns into a full-blown disaster that can cost you sales and customers and ruin your customer’s experience. That’s why we recommend hosting providers with at least 99.95% uptime.
Below is a list of common hosting providers and their guaranteed uptime:
3. Limit The installed Plugins On Your Website
Your website’s performance relies heavily on your server. And while plugins will give your website more functions, they’ll also drain your server processing power. So a rule of thumb is only to install plugins critical to running your website.
4. Compress Your Images
Quality images are aesthetically pleasing but come at the cost of slowing down your website due to their size. However, removing them isn’t an option, especially if you run an e-commerce store where high-quality images help establish trust among online shoppers.
The best approach is to optimize the image sizes for responsiveness without losing quality, and here’s how:
Reduce image size using compression tools
Tools like Compressor.io help compress high-quality images up to 81% of their original size without losing quality. Simply upload your images, and the tool will compress your images in the best way possible. Other tools such as Kraken, Tiny PNG, and JPEG.io also offer up to 50% lossless image compression.
Upload your images in WebP format
WebP images offer a modern approach to optimizing images and making them more responsive than other methods. According to Google, WebP images offer superior lossless and lossy compression for images on the web, making websites run faster.
At the equivalent SSIM quality index, WebP lossless images are 26% smaller in size compared to PNGs. And WebP lossy images are 25-34% smaller than JPEGs. So for websites that use many high-quality images, switching to WebP would take some milliseconds off your load time and improve your website performance.
To convert your images to WebP, you can download the precompiled cwebp conversion tool provided by Google on your computer. Alternatively, you can use sites like Convertio and Ezgif to convert your images from PNG and JPG to WebP.
5. Reduce the Number of Redirects
Multiple redirects on your website create additional HTTP requests that block the main thread from parsing requests to the server. As a result, the main thread cannot process or execute new requests due to incomplete or impending responses from the server.
Here’s a quick example: Let’s say a user visits your website and they have to go through four redirects:
mywebsite.com → www.mywebsite.com → m.mywebsite.com → mywebsite.com/home
Each of these redirects is an HTTP request to the server. And more redirects lead to more requests that eventually slow down your page.
6. Eliminate Render-blocking Resources
Here are a few ways to tackle this problem:
- Use asynchronous over synchronous loading so elements can load independently.
7. Enable Browser Caching
Here’s the thing: fetching your website from the origin server is time-consuming. First, the browser must send a DNS request to find your domain IP address, request a connection to that domain, and download your website content for display to the user. All this happens in seconds, and the cycle continues for every visit. Over time, this process continues to slow down your page speed as you add more assets to your website.
By enabling client-side or browser caching, you’re telling the user’s browser to save a copy of your website (only static) on their device. This way, your browser fetches the page from the user's device storage instead of going to the origin server.
Page Speed Common FAQs
Is Page speed an SEO factor?
Yes. Page speed is an important factor in SEO. Google introduced page speed as a crucial search ranking factor in 2010 to improve user experience.
According to Google,
“Speeding up websites is important—not just to site owners, but to all Internet users. Faster sites create happy users and we've seen in our internal studies that when a site responds slowly, visitors spend less time there. But faster sites don't just improve user experience; recent data shows that improving site speed also reduces operating costs. Like us, our users place a lot of value in speed—that's why we've decided to take site speed into account in our search rankings. We use a variety of sources to determine the speed of a site relative to other sites.”
Additionally, since SEO is focused on user experience, poor page speed results in high bounce rates and low dwell time that sends a bad signal to search engines.
What’s a good page speed score?
If you run an e-commerce website, You should aim for a website speed of three seconds or two seconds. Every additional second delay directly affects your sales. A recent survey of 1,100 US-based consumers found that 90% of shoppers will abandon a site if it doesn't load in a reasonable time. Additionally, more than half (57%) of consumers admit they’ll leave slow ecommerce sites for similar retailer sites.
Imagine your website is taking longer than usual to load. You risk losing your e-commerce business as customers will keep exiting your website.
Pro tip → Edgemesh makes every part of your website as fast as possible—so you have time to do what actually needs done. So go head(ache)less with Edgemesh to give your customers a next-gen seamless web experience.
Which page speed factor matters the most?
The server response time is the most important, as website optimization focuses on reducing the latency between your server response and user request.
What’s more important: page speed on mobile or desktop?
A general rule is optimizing your page speed to satisfy user experience on mobile and desktop devices. But more often than not, page speed on mobile is a massive determinant for your website rankings, conversions, and overall on-page experience. For example, people are 62% less likely to make future purchases from an online retailer after experiencing a negative mobile experience.
We’ve also seen Google roll out the “mobile-first indexing” program to evaluate a website's performance and relevance to a user's search query.
According to Google —
With this, optimizing your page speed on mobile carries more weight and importance to the success of the overall website.
Use Edgemesh To Speed Up Your Site
Many factors influence page speed. So while it makes sense to focus on improving each factor, Edgemesh makes it easy to identify and rectify page speed issues all from one platform. This way, you can get back to running your business knowing site speed optimization is being taken care of.
Edgemesh offers a fast, simple, and easy-to-install headless solution. In 5 minutes, you can get your website up and running without adding extra infrastructural overhead or introducing complicated frontend workflows.
Bonus → On our lightning-fast edge network, you can measure your speed in milliseconds—not seconds.
Identify and Rectify Third-party Issues
Edgemesh offers solutions beyond being fast. We help secure your website from internal and third-party issues. From detecting scripts slowing down your website to stopping bought traffic from becoming bot traffic—Edgemesh protects you.
Real-time Actionable Insights
Data from Google and other third-party tools don’t give you the whole picture—but we do. We built edgemesh on top of a robust database that can store unabridged data at the finest level of granularity possible. Our goal is to provide you with enough authentic data to help you make informed decisions about your business.
Bonus tip → Edgemesh does not sample, average, abridge, or concatenate our Real User Metrics.
Experts Ready To Help
Don’t like to get your hands on the technical part of your website optimization? Edgemesh offers expert guidance backed by the most advanced analytics and metric insights available to help you optimize performance to drive more revenue.
In addition, we’ll do a deep dive into your site metrics to identify opportunities to deliver an even faster user experience.
The ROI of fast websites is increased conversion rates. We know this because our clients see an average increase in conversion rate of up to 20% simply because we took this statement to heart.
Your conversion rates drop by 4-7% for every additional second your website delays. The choice is yours.