The web as we know it has come a long way since the times of Dial up connections and that terrifying screeching sound it made as it connected. Oh and who could forget the pain of being restricted to certain times in order that the phone could be used. Dark times.
Thankfully everything is a lot faster and lot easier these days, but with the advance in speeds and technologies the expectations of your average web user has also evolved. We are so used to things being much faster now, that we get frustrated when a website takes longer than a few seconds to load, making us more likely to click the back button and try elsewhere.
Google hasn’t ignored this fact and in the last few years has started to take this as a major signal in their ranking algorithms. Essentially if the user is having a bad experience waiting for your website to load too quickly and leaves, google won’t want this site to appear high up in their rankings. This might mean that if your website falls into the “unhappy visitor” category that you might be dropped down a few positions or even pages. Not what you want to happen.
How do I know my load time?
Thankfully there are a number of online services that allow you to test your website speed and see how it compares against all other websites online.
tools.pingdom.com is probably the best one to use and allows you to choose which server to test from.
To get an accurate reading using pingdom, you are best to select a server to run your test, then use the same server and run a second test on the same address straight after.
What should I be looking for?
The main thing to look for in the results is your overall load time.
Anything under 4 seconds is probably a reasonable result. Anything higher and you should maybe start thinking about getting your site speed analysed by a professional.
Other signs to look for in the speed test are elements that could be causing your load times to increase. These are easily spotted by running down the list below your overall result and looking for coloured bands that are much larger than the rest.
The usual suspects for these are:-
images that are large in size
external plugins that use resources not hosted on your server.
Reducing the size of the image files should help to decrease your load time by a lot if this is your main culprit and is something that can be done with relative ease if you know your way about an image software like photoshop.
The only real way to improve the load times if plugins are your main issue would be to remove the plugins altogether and host the necessary files on your own server. This is a bit more complicated and probably only really recommended for those know are comfortable with managing their own websites.
For those who aren’t too clued up, the team at NEC are more than happy to help.
If you’re suffering from the issues pointed out above or have a high load time and need help identifying the reasons then send over the results of your speed test to [email protected] and we’ll do our best to help. Remember to include your own email address or we won’t know who to reply to.
You can send your results over quickly and easily from within the test by hitting the email button and filling in the details.
About Bob Gentle
I'm the MD at NEC. I work with clients on strategy and digital marketing and lead research and development in this quickly evolving area.