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Tools To Help You Improve Page Speed
Having a digital business is all about making your product and interface a better experience for your users. While the average site owner might not care too much about performance as an active thought, webmasters around the world spend countless hours trying to optimise their sites to load faster and provide a smoother experience for their users.
There are not many things UX and SEO can agree on, but one aspect they are always in agreement with is that page speed is essential, both departments may differ on how to get there and what elements to sacrifice, but more page speed is never a bad thing.
Why page speed is important
In the past the only way to reach a website was via a computer, now we have desktops, laptops, tablets, smart TVs and smartphones all providing access tot he internet and all having different browsers to render sites. This multi-device approach to the internet has only placed more emphasis on website owners to ensure their page renders as fast as possible to give any device the best possible experience.
Improving your website's page speed not provides a better experience and eliminates bounce rate or frustration from slow-loading pages, but it's proven to have a positive effect on conversion rate.
Also, sites like search engines and social media prefer faster loading sites as a way to ensure their users are getting the best experience possible.
Overall, improving page speed can boost the amount of search traffic and social media coming to your site, and it can also increase the chance that the traffic converts into paying customers.
While creating content or product pages for your site, there's no doubt that load times should be a key focus. So how do you ensure your pages are loading as fast as possible and where to find the issues? Well, you can use a combination of tools to analyse your site and provide a benchmark for you.
Page testing tools
Google Page Speed Insights
Google has a vested interest in helping sites improve page speed so they can serve users the best experience which is why they launched page speed insights a tool that crawls your pages and provides you with a report on where the crawler feels you can improve your site speed.
Visit the tool: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
Test My Site - Google
This tool focuses primarily on mobile and provides you with an in-depth report, and you can select the region and network speed you want to test your site on, and it will simulate a load. It also offers a downloadable report which is great for sending to clients or key decision-makers to try and motivate for resources or changes on the site.
Visit the tool: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/intl/en-gb/feature/testmysite/
Lighthouse is an open-source tool that can be installed in your chrome browser and is designed to improve the quality of web pages. You can run it against any web page, public or requiring authentication. It will produce audits for performance, accessibility, progressive web apps, SEO and more.
Visit the tool: https://developers.google.com/web/tools/lighthouse#devtools
GT Metrix has been running since 2009 and developed by Carbon60. The testing tool is meant to test the performance of their webpages quickly. Their page speed testing tool provides a more comprehensive test than Google and is always worth running in conjunction, so you have a better overview of what needs fixing.
Visit the tool: https://gtmetrix.com/
Google Analytics has its own page speed tracking tool which can be found in the behaviour report section. What makes this such an awesome tool is that it gives page speed stats for individual pages. That way you can extract which pages are lagging and can start correcting them based on the worst performing pages.
Benchmarking is not a step you have to take, but I feel its a great way to give yourself perspective over what needs to be done to your site to get the maximum benefit from the least amount of work or rather which the best tasks are to complete.
To benchmark, you can grab the tools mentioned above and drop in the link of a competitor and scan their sites. That way you can see what their page load speeds are at, where they lack against you or where they are better, and then you'll know where you should focus on pipping them in terms of performance.
Note: This does not mean you will outrank them, there are other factors at play such as backlinking and content, but it does give you a leg up if all other elements are removed. Especially when it comes to new content and products, where everyone starts from zero to compete for a specific search term.
Image compression tools
Images are often the biggest culprit when it comes gobbling up resources and increasing page load times. Many site owners do not think if they're balancing the visual with the size and often upload hi-res images that are doing more harm than good.
I suggest getting into the habit of compressing images as far as possible so as long as they don't become pixelated. There are several free image compression tools online, or you can use tools like photoshop to do it for you.
It's also better to opt for saving your images in a next-gen format like JPEG 2000, JPEG XR, and WebP. These image files often provide better compression than PNG or JPEG, which means faster downloads and consume fewer data.
Asset compression tools
Your web assets are often files you never consider as in many cases they are set and forgotten. People will add new libraries as they go along and forget about cleaning up unused and unnecessary code.
Tame the Bots
Visit the tool: https://tamethebots.com/tools/codecoverage
These tools are:
Reduce 3rd party code usage
The use of 3rd party code should be used sparingly, and this is one step plenty of people forget about and can dent their speed. If you're not using a specific tracking pixel or marketing tech tool, remove it. If you're able to build tools into your system and remove the dependency on 3rd party tools.
I suggest you look to that too. Have a look at all the 3rd party tools running, and if you haven't used it in 6 months or more, then I think it's safe to say it's not providing you with any benefit and you can give it the chop.
Sites and site owners naturally have their limitations; this could be access to the backend if you're running with a CMS like ghost or Squarespace or having the knowledge to fix issues with a custom CMS or an open-source CMS like WordPress. In these cases, you may not feel comfortable messing around with the assets on your site and would prefer the one size fixes all approach which AMP can provide for mobile.
I have my personal feelings on AMP, but I cannot discredit the fact that it can get results. If you're running a responsive design site and the assets, images and libraries sare far too taxing for your mobile users then this is an option you can explore.
AMPs are a separately hosted pages that are duplicates of your current site and are only served through Google search, so if you have a large percentage of mobile traffic, then it could also be worth migrating to this option.
Are you looking to promote your business?
South African Business owners can create your free business listing on nichemarket. The more information you provide about your business, the easier it will be for your customers to find you online. Registering with nichemarket is easy; all you will need to do is head over to our sign up form and follow the instructions.
If you require a more detailed guide on how to create your profile or your listing, then we highly recommend you check out the following articles.
If you enjoyed this post and have a little extra time to dive deeper down the rabbit hole, why not check out the following posts about website optimisation.
- 6 Easy Techniques to Improve Your Sites Ranking
- Simple Front End Changes That Boost Page Speed
- How Fast Should Your Website Be For Mobile
- 8 FREE and Helpful Page Testing Tools
- Top 7 SEO Trends to Rank Your Website in 2020
- Does Web Hosting Affect SEO?
- Top Tips on Optimising Images For Better SEO