How fast is your website? Such a simple question, yet such a complicated answer. We all know that “speed” matters – both in SEO (Google rewards fast sites and penalizes slow sites), but also in Google Ads and social media marketing. If your website does not load fast… then users (and Google) will abandon it. Fortunately, there are some free tools to measure how fast your website is. Unfortunately, they are not easy-to-use nor coherent. Let’s investigate!
Watch Website Speed: Free Tools to Test How Fast Your Website Is on YouTube!
SPEED MATTERS: THE ULTIMATE TEST – USERS
Speed matters! Why? Not because of Google, not because of Google Ads, and not because of Facebook and other social platforms. It matters because users want what users want and they want it fast. The first test (and really the only test) that matters is just plain and simple: users. Try opening up an incognito browser. Search for your company on Google. Click over from Google to your website and just observe how fast it loads. Click around and through the website at various pages. Try this on your phone. Try this on other WiFi networks. Try this at Grandma’s or Grandpa’s. Try this at Starbucks when you are traveling. Is it fast? Does it load? This is not a “scientific” test but it’s important.
TOOLS TO CHECK YOUR WEBSITE SPEED
There are various free tools that you can use to check your website speed. Most drill down into aspects of your website and give information (and advice) on what you need to do to “optimize” your website for speed. But – and it’s a big but – the tools are incoherent. They don’t always portray accurate or clear results. So use more than one, and reach out to your resident “website nerd” for advice and tips on optimization (such as using CloudFlare or a content delivery network).
- GTMetrix. This is one of the older, “traditional” tools now with a new update (that has distressed a lot of SEO’s). Input your URL and observe the speed metrics.
- WebPageTest. A newer tool providing different metrics. You can also vary your location and browser to see how fast your site is across different locations.
- Google PageSpeed Insights. You’d think that Google’s official tool would be the best or the most important. But you’d be wrong. It’s another tool also with plusses and minuses in the data returned.
Each tool is far from perfect, but they provide insights into what’s working and what’s not. Again, reach out to your resident computer nerd for assistance on debugging and giving recommendations on what can be done to improve speed.
SITE SPEED IN GOOGLE ANALYTICS
Google Analytics provides data on your site page load time by users. The beauty here is that your are in Google Analytics and can use segments to slice and dice your users (for example, by mobile, desktop and tablet) to see how fast pages load. It also breaks it down by browsers. To access it –
- Go to Google Analytics and log in.
- On the Left click down to Behavior > Site Speed > overview
- Select segments at the top and then All Users, Mobile Traffic, and Table / Desktop Traffic (built-in segments).
You can also drill into “Speed Suggestions” for advice from Google Analytics on what can be done to improve your speed.