How to Improve your Website Page Speed
Using the Google Analytics – Page Speed Report
Page speed is important for a lot of reasons – the first is pretty obvious – we all want our information NOW! The second is that speed actually impacts your SEO. See what Google’s Matt Cutts has to say – in 2010 http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/site-speed/ and more recently http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQkPhw5n4ZE.
How do we check our website’s page speed? Google Analytics provides a report in the “Content” area “Site Speed” section.
The “Page Timing” report provides the results below. The “Average Page Load Time” column tells us what we need to know – pages in the 2 second or less range are fine. Complex pages that take longer say 4 – 6 seconds are OK, if the benefit of waiting is clear to the user (think a search or other complex function). Above these times you are starting to frustrate your users and you are likely to see higher bounce rates and early site exits. The slowest pages are the obvious first starting points for performance tuning. So page #4 below at 10.74 seconds would be the page we should examine first.
The other interesting column in the Page Timing report is the “Page Load Sample” metric – this indicates the number of times this page was sampled for this load time. If you see a slow load time but very few samples – you may want to look over a longer time window to get more samples and more accurate reading of the load time. Other parts of the report are likely familiar – pageviews, bounce rate, % exits and page value – see analytics definitions for background on these terms.
If your site is performing well – pat yourself on the back.
If not – and the site above can use a bit or work – what do we do next? We will need to know two things – how to optimize the pages and where to start. There are a whole range of performance tuning steps you can take – Google provides a list of optimization tips here. Luckily there are a range of great tools out there that will point you in the right direction of what to fix. These tools will help you determine the performance issue(s) with your page and let you retest when the issues are corrected.
YSlow! – another good page speed tool. (works best in Firefox)
Pingdom – has an online tool for page speed – also has a range of other useful website tools.
The Google page speed tools are a set of tools that help you understand the performance of your pages. (works best in Chrome)
Tell us about performance tuning you have performed and what other tools you recommend.
Have fun speeding up your pages!