Large volumes of traffic do not always translate into higher conversion rates. If your bounce rate is high or you’re struggling to make sales, slow loading times might be responsible. Therefore, you might be wondering: how fast is my website, and how do I test my site’s speed? 🤔
Fortunately, there are various tools 🔧 you can use to measure your site’s performance. Most of them offer detailed reports with suggestions for improving your loading times. Once you learn how to use these tools, you’ll be able to optimize your site accordingly and keep visitors on your pages for longer.
In this post, we’ll discuss some factors to consider when running a speed test. Then, we’ll show you how to test your site’s performance with PageSpeed Insights. We’ll also discuss how to interpret the results and make your site run faster.
Let’s get started!
What to consider when running a site speed test
You can use many speed test tools to measure your site’s performance, including WebPageTest, Pingdom, GTmetrix, and PageSpeed Insights. The results may vary from one platform to another. However, if you run your site through different tools, your scores and page loading times will likely be similar.
Additionally, if you run a speed test using the same tool several times, you may get a slightly different result each time, even if you don’t make any changes to your site. 👉 For example, you may get a performance score of 47 (out of 100) when you first run a test, and a score of 50 on the second try.
These scores give a general indication of your website’s performance, so they can vary. However, you’ll also typically see individual metrics showing your overall loading time and the speed of key processes, like image loading. We’ll explore these metrics later on.
The point is that conducting several speed tests using different tools and comparing the results can be a smart idea. This way, you can get a clearer indication of how fast your website is.
ℹ️ Note that other factors besides your site’s content can impact your results. These include your test location and internet connection. For instance, if a tool runs its test using a server located on a different continent from your site’s primary server, it might take longer for your content to load.
Moreover, your web host’s server could affect your site’s speed. If you’re on a shared hosting plan, limited server resources and high traffic can lead to slow loading times. In this scenario, you might consider upgrading to a more powerful hosting plan or a more reliable host.
How to conduct a site speed test (in 2 steps)
As we mentioned earlier, you can use several tools 🔧 to see how fast your website is. For this tutorial, we’ll be using Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
This comprehensive tool breaks down your site’s performance into key metrics. These criteria make up Google’s Core Web Vitals, and are essential to your site’s rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
A poor Core Web Vitals score is a sign of slow loading times. This sluggishness can harm your site’s user experience (UX) and conversions. If visitors can’t complete actions quickly on your website, they will likely feel frustrated and leave.
Therefore, it’s essential to see how fast your website is and follow Google’s recommendations for improving your site’s speed. Let’s see how to conduct a speed test with PageSpeed Insights and analyze the results! 🦸
Step 1: Enter your URL
Running a speed test on PageSpeed Insights is a straightforward process. All you have to do is enter the URL of your web page and click on Analyze:
The tool will then generate the results. This process typically only takes a few seconds:
As you can see in the example above, you’ll receive performance data for both mobile and desktop devices. The tool will also notify you if you’ve failed or passed the Core Web Vitals assessment.
If your site has enough data, PageSpeed Insights will use real-user data from the last 28 days to calculate your scores, based on the Chrome User Experience Report.
Below that, PageSpeed Insights will also show data from simulated tests, which is available to all websites regardless of traffic.
Step 2: Analyze the results
PageSpeed Insights gives you an overall performance score, which correlates roughly with how fast your website loads. While this score can be useful at a glance, it’s also important to look at the actual loading times below.
Your human visitors will care more about actual load times than “scores.”
Let’s take a close look at each score range:
- 0 to 49 (red): Your site loads slowly overall.
- 50 to 89 (orange): This score indicates average load times.
- 90 to 100 (green): Your site is fast!
PageSpeed Insights measures your site’s performance across six primary metrics. Ideally, you’ll want to aim for a green score in each area:
Let’s take a look at what each metric means:
- First Contentful Paint (FCP): How long (in seconds) it takes the browser to render the first piece of content on your page.
- Speed Index: How quickly (in seconds) content is displayed during the page load.
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): The time (in seconds) it takes the page to load the largest element on the screen.
- Time to Interactive (TTI): How long (in seconds) it takes for the page to become fully interactive.
- Total Blocking Time: The total amount of time (in seconds) between FCP and TTI.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): How much layout shifts users experience during the page loading process.
To measure your site’s load time, you’ll need to pay particular attention to your LCP score. Ideally, you’ll want your largest element to load in 2.5 seconds or less, since that benchmark indicates a ‘fast’ website. Additionally, Google’s research shows that bounce rates increase by up to 32% when your site takes three seconds to load .
Meanwhile, if your LCP score is higher than 4 seconds (a red score), it’s likely that your overall page takes several seconds to load:
A poor LCP suggests that you have images or videos on your page that need to be compressed, or potentially just slow web hosting in general. Optimizing these elements can help your site load in fewer seconds.
A red CLS score indicates that you have several elements moving around while your page is loading. This movement can lead to a poor UX and confuse your visitors.
⚠ Remember to view your results on both mobile and desktop devices. Once you’ve identified the areas where your site performs poorly, you can start improving your content and boosting your loading times.
A few more notes about these results:
- By default, PageSpeed Insights tests your site from around your own physical location. If you’re located in a different physical area from your target audience, this might lead to seeing unnaturally slow load times. In these cases, you can use a different tool that lets you choose a location (such as WebPageTest) or change your location using a VPN.
- If your site doesn’t have a lot of traffic, you might not be able to see the First Input Delay Core Web Vitals metric, as this metric is only available to higher-traffic sites with enough data in the Chrome User Experience Report (CrUX).
How to make your website faster
One of the best things about PageSpeed Insights is that it provides suggestions for improving your Core Web Vitals scores:
👉 For example, if resources are blocking your content, PageSpeed Insights will recommend tools to help you eliminate them:
Meanwhile, if there are large image files slowing down your site, the tool will help you identify them and make some recommendations for how to make them smaller:
You can view audits and suggestions for each metric by selecting the appropriate tabs on the results page:
You can then click on any issue in the Diagnostics or Opportunities section to see how you can resolve it:
As we mentioned earlier, your web host’s server can also significantly impact your site speed. If this is the case, you’ll see Reduce initial server response time listed in the Opportunities section:
If you’re using an optimization tool, but your site is still slow, it might be time to switch to a faster hosting plan. To find some options, you can browse our data-backed collection of the fastest WordPress hosts.
Generally speaking, following the suggestions made by PageSpeed Insights can help your site run faster. Furthermore, if you have a WordPress website, there are several other optimization techniques you can use to improve your page loading times.
Once you’ve optimized 💹 your site, you can run another speed test on PageSpeed Insights and compare the results. If you’ve made significant changes to your website, such as compressing large images and removing unnecessary plugins, you should notice an improvement in your Core Web Vitals scores.
If you’ve been experiencing a high bounce rate, you may be wondering how fast your website is and if your page loading times could be negatively impacting your conversions. Fortunately, 😎 you can verify your site’s speed with a free tool like PageSpeed Insights.
This Google speed test tool gives you an overview of your site’s performance on mobile and desktop devices, using real user data (if available) and simulated tests. Your scores are calculated across key Core Web Vitals metrics, including Largest Contentful Paint and Time to Interactive. Once you understand how your site is currently performing, you can view Google’s suggestions to optimize your content and speed up your pages.
Do you have any questions about conducting a speed test for your website? Let us know in the comments section below!