Does Your Website Load Fast Enough?
Performance is one of the big buzzwords in 2019. And for good reason. It affects both your ranking in Google and the conversion rate.
In this article, we focus on front-end performance and how you as a webmaster or marketer can do a lot to improve the speed of your website.
We’ve put together a mini checklist at the end of the post, with things you can do yourself. There are also links to other articles on the subject.
The tools you can use
There are several services and tools to check the performance of your website, including Pingdom, GTmatrix, PageSpeed Insights and Google Lighthouse. For this post, we have used the latter to test mobile performance.
In Google Lighthouse, there are five areas that you can test: Performance, Progressive Web App, Accessibility, Best Practices, and SEO.
This article focuses on performance, but if you’re testing, take a look at the results from the other areas – there are probably a few quick items that can be improved. Especially during Accessibility and Best Practices, where there are often good findings.
Google Lighthouse report for plus.dk
When optimising, the first step is to find out where there are problems. You can start by testing a few pages manually and get an idea of what can be improved. Another way is to use Google Analytics to find, for example, the top ten most visited pages.
It’s also a great idea to set up monitoring so that you can keep an eye on performance over time – have you changed something that has affected performance? There are various tools for this, including Caliber and SpeedCurve. Contact Novicell if you want to know more about how we can help.
Note that many of the basic (and often easy) optimisations go across the site (eg. font load) and will affect many pages – so just get started!
Better performance gives better SEO rank
In July 2018, Google announced that page speed will be a ranking factor in mobile searches. Page speed, however, is not the only factor, so slow pages can still rank high if, for example, there is unique content – but it’s clearly an area you should focus on.
Fast load time doesn't just influence your Google ranking, but also your visitors from mobile devices. According to a study by Google, bounce rate increases by 90% when load time increases from 1 second to 5 seconds.
‘No matter what, faster is better and less is more.’
– Daniel An, Google Global Product Lead, Mobile Web
Performance and speed are, of course, just a few of the factors you need to have in place to achieve high Google ranking and ensure that your visitors do not bounce. It is also important that you have a general control of SEO. If you need help, talk to one of our SEO experts or read more in this article: 5 SEO tips for launching a new site.
Positive influence on conversion rate
Performance also influences conversion rates. In the following example, Google Analytics data from one of our customers shows how improved Page Load Time positively affected their conversion rate (there were no other activities during this period).
Conversion Rate vs. Page Load Time
Do-it-yourself performance check
Here is a quick guide so you can do a performance check on your website yourself.
You need to have Google Chrome installed and sit at a desktop or laptop computer. You also need to have a list of the URLs you want to test. For example, the ten most-visited pages on your website.
There are various options for testing with Google Lighthouse. In this guide, we use Google Chrome's built-in developer tools, but you can also download a Lighthouse Chrome Extension. If you’re really nerdy, there is also a Node command line tool.
How to test
To run a test, you can follow the Google guide (English) or the one I have made in Danish here:
1. Download Google Chrome for Desktop
2. Go to the URL you want to test
3. Open Chrome DevTools (right-click on the page and select ‘Inspect’)
4. Select the ‘Audit’ tab
5. Press ‘Perform an Audit’, and select the audits you want to perform, then press ‘Run audit’
Test with Google Lighthouse
The test takes 60–90 seconds to complete. We would recommend that you complete the test before browsing to other pages as it may affect the results.
Results and recommendations
The report provides an explanation of the different results and recommendations for solutions. Most require a little technical insight and changes in code or server setup. A score over 75 is categorised by Google as ‘Good’, but you can easily get a better score and we would recommend aiming a little higher.
If you have an internal IT department, talk to them and present the results. They can likely decode the technical terms – but otherwise we are, of course, also available to help optimise your site.
Contact Novicell and get a performance check.
What you can optimise yourself
Make images smaller
It’s often the low hanging fruits, such as the compression of images and text, that can relatively easily improve page load time.
Use only the most necessary content and tracking scripts
We often find that some pages have a lot of content or tracking scripts that slow them down. It may also be the use of non-optimized components, for example, if lazy loading is not used. If the problem is tracking scripts, you can often add and remove these yourself. If it’s optimisation of components and the like, you should get hold of your supplier or web department.
Read on for yourself
If you are curious about the subject, here is a list of useful articles: