Why Page Speed Matters and How to Test your Page Speed Score
By Jash Unadkat, Technical Content Writer at BrowserStack - June 16, 2020
A website’s speed is one of the most important factors contributing to positive user experience. A user is more likely to bounce if a website takes too long to load. This Kissmetrics infographic reveals that 40% of people bounce from a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
But does Page Speed actually affect SEO rankings? Also, how would someone test the page load time for a website?
This article answers both those questions.
What is Page Speed?
As the term suggests, Page Speed is a measurement for identifying how fast the content on a specific page load.
Note: Page Speed and Site Speed are often used interchangeably. However, they are different. Page Speed can either mean as ‘page-load time’ (the amount of time taken to completely display the content of a specific page) or ‘time to first byte’ (time taken by the browser to load the first byte of information from the server)
A support document from Google defines Site speed as a measurement of how quickly users are able to view and interact with content across the site. At a high-level, Site Speed represents three aspects:
- Page-load time for a sample of pageviews on a specific site
- Load time of any user interaction (loading of images, response time), event, or discrete hit
- The time taken by a browser to parse a specific document to make it available for the end-user
Why is Page Speed Important?
Websites with faster Page Speed provide a seamless user experience. On the contrary, websites with longer load times tend to have very high bounce rates and reduced average time on page.
A report from kissmetrics also reveals that a delay of 1 second in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversion rate. Longer load times not only affect conversion rates but also affect how users perceive online brands.
Additionally, if a website is too slow, then it is probably taking a hit in the search engines. This raises an important question.
Does Page Speed Affect SEO Rankings?
Yes, Page Speed does affect website rankings, especially in Google search engines. In 2010, Google’s former head of web spam, Matt Cutts officially admitted that Google considers fast load speed as a positive ranking factor.
However, while Google has been clear about the impacts of Page Speed, they have also cautioned the website owners not to sacrifice the content relevancy in the name of faster web pages.
Mobile users expect speed too. Observing the gradual exponential growth in mobile traffic, Google started experimenting with a new project: “Mobile-First index” in 2016. According to Google, Mobile-First indexing is a technique that focuses on indexing and ranking of mobile versions of the website predominantly. This project was made live on July 1st, 2019.
Note: Google continues to use only one index; there is no separate mobile-first index maintained.
To learn about the best practices of mobile-first indexing, refer to this official documentation. One can easily make out how Google is in a constant endeavor to provide a seamless and optimized user experience on mobile devices. Google is speed-obsessed for its products and services. Therefore web-developers should be aware of the importance of optimizing their websites for mobile devices.
How To Test Page Speed Score of a Website?
Fortunately, there are several tools available on the internet, making it easy to identify speed bottlenecks and speed improvements, regardless of the tech-stack used in developing the site.
One such tool that helps in evaluating Website Speed Test insights effortlessly is – Speed Lab by BrowserStack. Speed Lab instantly provides you Page Speed Score out of 100 for both Desktop and Mobile platforms.
Refer to the images below for a glimpse of this tool:
The most unique offering of this tool is that the Page Speed test is executed across a range of widely used device-browser combinations. These tests are conducted on real devices that are hosted on BrowserStack’s real device cloud.
Users also don’t have to worry about generating separate reports for different device-browser combinations. Once the test is executed, users receive detailed and extensive reports regarding the Page Load time in milliseconds for each platform.
Although there are multiple tools available for speed analysis in the market, BrowserStack stands out in delivering accurate test results (every time) for a highly fragmented digital environment.
Evaluating and optimizing website speed is mandatory for website developers to keep up with a competitive and evolving search landscape. Enhancing the site’s speed not only improves search rankings but also improves user experience. Doing so ensures that organizations do not miss out on potential customers and revenue.