Google announced, beginning July 2018, not only will Desktop site loading speed be a ranking factor but also mobile search speed. However, Google’s search engine is still very concerned with the intent of the search query and its results, hence a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content. This article covers how to assess your website speed and page performance, as well as the tools to assist in fixing issues as they’re identified.
What can affect website speed?
Many factors may slow down the response of your server. These include:
- Slow routing
- Poor web hosting
- Slow application logic
- Increased traffic
- Slow database queries
- Bloated webpages
- CPU resource utilization
- Memory starvation
- Lack of caching
- Inefficient code or SQL
- Bottlenecks/Slow Server
- TTFB (time to first byte)
High TTFB will often cause your page loads to be slow or at the very least increase the latency between page loads. You should check to see if your TTFB is a performance issue or not. Try to keep TTFB under 300 milliseconds, repeat visits/tests should be even lower.
Analyze these factors on your site and address any issues that may be contributing to slow performance and you’re well on your way to improving your overall site quality and potential ranking ability.
Websites speed test tools can help you by:
- Checking minification of your scripts
- Finding large images resulting in bottlenecks
- Testing Time to First Byte (TTFB)
- Analyzing total load times, page sizes, and # of requests
- Checking performance from different geographical locations
- Checking rendering speed in different browsers
- Analyzing HTTP Headers
- Measuring performance of your Content Delivery Network
- Verifying that assets are loading correctly from your CDN
Tools that can help analyze website speed and page performance
Google suggests these resources that can be used to evaluate a page’s performance.
Chrome User Experience Report, a public dataset of key user experience metrics for popular destinations on the web, as experienced by Chrome users under real-world conditions
Lighthouse, an automated tool and a part of Chrome Developer Tools for auditing the quality (performance, accessibility, and more) of web pages
PageSpeed Insights, a tool that indicates how well a page performs on the Chrome UX Report and suggests performance optimizations
I’ve personally used the Lighthouse and webpagetest.org resource frequently because I think these resources provide sufficient enough detail as to the site’s performance and how to approach its optimization.
How to Reduce Server Response Time
Server response time measures how long it takes to load the HTML needed to begin rendering the page from your server. If your server response time is slow, then your whole site will be slow, no matter how optimized your other resources are.
Note* There may be slight variance from one run to the next. A highly variable server response time may indicate an underlying performance issue. Typically you want your server response time to be below 200ms.