Think fast: how long will you wait for a website to load before you click away?
If you’re like most users, the simple answer here is “not long.” According to recent data, 47% of users expect a desktop website to load in 2 seconds or less, and 40% will actually leave if loading times are longer than 3 seconds. That is incredibly short– shorter than the length of a single deep breath. This even holds true for mobile users, who may even be more impatient, with 53% fleeing if the mobile site takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
And now another question for you: how long does it take your site to load?
If you aren’t sure, Google’s Page Speed Insight tool is an excellent resource you should take advantage of immediately, and in this post, we’ll show you how to use it.
What Is Google’s Page Speed Insight Tool?
Google’s Page Speed Insight Tool is a completely free and easily accessible tool that can be found here. It is, in fact, created by Google and was designed to help brands assess their site loading speeds on both desktop and mobile, along with flagging what, if anything, is holding them back and slowing them down.
You can enter in the URL of any site you want to evaluate. Ideally this would include your own site, but you can also do some snooping on competitors to see how you measure up.
In just a few minutes or less (depending on the size and the number of pages it has), Google will crawl your site. They’ll assess site loading speed times for desktop and mobile independently and run audits to help you check for common issues.
Why Does Page Speed Matter?
We’ve already established that site loading times are crucial to keep users engaged; they’ll click away shockingly fast if your site isn’t meeting their expectations. And since we live in the age of Amazon’s same-day delivery, those expectations are high.
There’s another reason you should pay careful attention to loading speeds, and that’s Google. Google actually takes loading speeds into consideration as a factor that helps them determine positioning in the SERPs. If your desktop and/or mobile site isn’t up to speed, you’ll pay for it in organic positioning.
And of course, we’re going back to the consumers, here; you want their experience to be as pleasant and seamless as possible, no matter what medium they’re on.
How to Use Google’s Page Speed Insight Tool
Start at Google’s Page Speed Insight tool, and enter in the site that you want to research. The site’s URL is all you need. Note that you can do this separately for mobile and desktop, which you should absolutely do.
After Google takes a minute to analyze your site, they’ll give you a score between 1-100. When you run the numbers, you’ll see that your mobile score is almost certainly different from your desktop score.
They’ll give you actionable information about each performance, showing you what you’re doing well, what needs some improvement, and exactly how it all is contributing to your current loading speed.
The opportunities section will be the most valuable place to start. They’ll give you specific suggestions for what you can do to improve site loading speed with an estimate savings calculation of how much it may speed things up. If I adjust the image sizes on my site, for example, I could get .15 seconds back on my loading times. One relatively small change could make an impact, and a few of those changes can make a dent in your loading speeds.
Again, pay close attention to the suggestions for both desktop and mobile uniquely, because different opportunities will likely show up for each.
The Most Common Reasons Your Site Isn’t Loading Fast Enough
When you head over to Google’s tool to check your site speeds, you’ll find out quickly enough why your loading speed may not be exactly where you want it, or at least how it could be even faster.
We still like to give you a head start. When evaluating your site loading speeds, or if you’re setting up or restructuring your site, watch out for these common mistakes that will slow down your site loading times.
- Images with files that are too large. Use JPG files for best results, and enable compression if the images need to be large for your display. JPG files are next-gen and work well with compression.
- Too many redirects or broken links. This happens more often than you’d think. If you’re redirecting traffic automatically, you’ll notice that it can slow down the user while the request is processed. Try to avoid redirects to key site pages that are generating lots of traffic, and double check to avoid error pages or broken links.
- Long server response times. You may need to upgrade your hosting plan or adjust the framework of your site here, but this is a crucial problem– and a common one– you want to fix quickly.
- Use caches. Cached sites can quickly deliver pages that have been loaded in the past to repeat visitors, speeding up the average loading speeds and keeping users happy.
- Eliminate unused coding. Sometimes a site will have so much CSS that some of it is unnecessary, and as Google rushes to interpret all of it, it slows down loading. Chop any of it that isn’t needed; this is particularly crucial on mobile.
Google’s Page Speed Insight Tool is exceptionally valuable, giving you an instant read on your average site loading speeds, and small notes about what you could do to improve its performance. There’s no limit to how many sites you check or how frequently, so after you take a look at your own site, check out your competition and industry leaders to see where you measure up.
If you see your score and feel overwhelmed at some of the fixes that need to be made, don’t worry. Even if you aren’t tech-savvy, there are experts who can take care of all it for you pretty quickly, including us.
Need some help improving site loading speed to get a boost in SEO and conversion rates? Learn more about what we can do for you here.