We’ve all heard the saying “time is money.” And it’s especially true when it comes to your website.  In a world where everything has to be immediate and on-demand, nothing’s more annoying than waiting for a page to load. With 8-second-long attention spans (more than a gnat, less than a goldfish), human beings have little patience for slow page loads. If you want to get your message across quickly, you need a fast-loading page.

Keeping the attention of prospective consumers isn’t the only benefit of fast-loading pages—they’re also important to your SEO campaign. An experiment performed for a SearchMetrics conference in 2014 found webpages on the first page of search results loaded in about 0.7-0.8 seconds, while webpages on the second page loaded in 1.4 seconds. You can be sure of one thing: site speed is correlated with your rankings.

Wondering how to check the speed of your website?

Google Developers PageSpeed Insights 

Of all the tools I use, I rely most on this. It reflects Google’s recommendations for how a given site can be improved. Although it’s not as advanced as other site speed tools, it’s definitely a great starting point.

GTMetrix

I like GTMetrix because it gives you a score, as well as advanced recommendations on how to speed up your site. You can also get your yscore from GTMetrix, along with the average page load time.

Pingdom

The thing I like the most about Pingdom is it shows you exactly what’s taking the longest time to load. For example, if 52% of the load time is spent rendering images, you or your developer can then take steps to help images load faster, thereby reducing overall page load time. Pingdom also tells you how fast your site is compared to others it tested that day.

How can I take action on my test results?

After using these tools a few times you might default to a favorite, but we always recommend running each tool separately to perform a full analysis. Once this is done, you’ll probably have a laundry list of potential improvements. You’ll need to determine which ones are most important to address. In my experience, there are three improvements you should pursue above the rest. These three are generally easiest for you or your developer to make, and they give you the most substantial results.

Compress your images

Running images through a round of lossless compression doesn’t hurt quality, and it helps them load faster. All original data remains, the compression just removes excess and redundant information. If you were to decompress the images, all data would still be there (which is not the case with lossy compression).

Leverage browser caching

Every time someone comes to the site, the browser needs to render your images. But if you set browser caching, the browser doesn’t need to re-load the image every time. Instead, they pull the cached version. This will make a big improvement for repeat visitors to your website! I usually set most images out for a week, but it can depend on how often you change your styles/images. You can also leverage browser caching for CSS and Javascript files, so they don’t need to load every time. If you haven’t been using browser caching, expect big wins in the speed department!

Defer parsing of JavaScript

Before a page is fully loaded, the browser must parse together all scripts, leading to slow load times. Ask your developer if you can just execute the files needed to render a page, in order to reduce the initial load time. The rest of the JavaScript can fire after the initial page load, as long as it’s not needed for rendering. These are all recommendations your web developer will be able to implement for you. Once you receive confirmation that things have been updated, we recommend you run the site speed tools again.

Check your website again, in order to make sure everything has been executed properly. Once you’ve updated some of the fundamental elements and re-checked your site, start performing monthly checks in your analytics account. The Site Speed report in Google Analytics will be able to compare pre-site speed analysis dates to post-site speed analysis dates, to continue monitoring and analyzing your site’s performance.