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What is Page Speed? How to Load Website Faster

October 25, 2023

page speed

Slow and steady doesn't always win the race.

Website development is critical. The robustness and reliability of a website depend on the page speed, response time and content layout. The time spent by a user after a website click should be less than the speed of light (literally). Page speed determines the quality and compatibility of your website over SERP and both these factors cannot be compromised in search engine optimization.

The overall performance efficiency of a website depends on how fast it loads and redirects. Keeping a website speed check with web monitoring tools reduces error instances, stabilises domain score and runs regular diagnostic and troubleshooting checks. 

Get that lightning-fast page speed and make your websites user-friendly without doing much.

High page speed helps websites battle visitor or user bounce rates and helps identify potential causes of outages to pinpoint the root cause and resolve incidents as quickly as possible. This is critical for websites as it is hard to tap into user's browsing behaviour that changes every second. The tedium of waiting for a website to load would make a user bounce off, no matter how critical the requirement might be.

Page speed is a determinant of how cleanly you have laid out your user interface and how well it is accepted by the end user. The technique of cumulative layout shift (CLS) and largest contentful paint are used to attribute image load times, content placements, and content size-based loading.

Page speed is determined in two ways:

  • Page load time: The time it takes for all of a website’s content to load. 
  • Time to first byte (TTFB): The time it takes for your server to receive the first byte of information.

The better your page load and time to first-byte performance, the higher the traffic and conversion. Breaking the server protocol transmission with content can intercept the site speed and affect health.

How to improve your page speed

To improve the page speed of your website on desktop or mobile, the first step is to ensure how you present content to your audience. The rise in consumer-first initiatives and generative AI content has prompted web developers to design websites smartly. 

Managing the time, URL data and design components would contribute to improvement in page speed. Being in line with recent SERP updates, like Google MUM and helpful content updates is a great way to learn about reformations of the internet. Compressing URLs into (URL shortener service), browser HTTP caching, React.JS support (responsiveness of UX) and maintaining CSS media queries gives a flawless reading and surfing experience to the end users. 

Website speed optimization is a continuous activity as the browsing experience needs to be uninterrupted at all times. The audience lurks on the web at irregular hours. To ensure you grab the most eyeballs, keeping the technical files, filters and site maps in check is crucial.

How to measure page speed

So how should you measure page speed? What tools should you use?

Think of measuring website speed with free tools like measuring yourself for a tailored jacket. If you take your measurements once and then retake them maybe a month later, you risk different results (and data).

For one, you may not be measuring at the same points. Free tools often pick random server locations to test. There's also a good chance that your site gained weight between measurements due to some new, larger assets or files. 

Free page speed testing tools provide one-time snapshots of page load speed metrics. What they don't deliver are professionally adjusted results over time to identify trends and baselines needed to improve website performance.

Suppose you want to know the actual speed of every important site element. In that case, login, checkout, and contact form monitor performance using real user session data with a real user monitoring (RUM) tool. Critical paths like forms and e-commerce carts do this with synthetic transaction audits that mimic site user actions.

This may be a step away from page speed toward performance monitoring. But item response time data and real-time visitor data hold action items to flatten speed bumps before they become a problem.

Synthetic monitoring

Use advanced synthetic monitoring tools (also known as transaction checks) to measure load times by mimicking user actions. The main benefit of such tools is the resulting response time graphs and individual response time metrics per test item.

A synthetic monitoring check for a shopping cart transaction might look something like this:

  • Step 1: returns status 200 OK.
  • Step 2: The click navigation from your home page to your shop is successful and validated by page content or URL.
  • Step 3: A specific item exists and can be selected.
  • Step 4: That item can be added to your shopping cart.
  • Steps 5-8: Enter personal details, name, email, credit card, and so on into the appropriate fields.
  • Step 9: The transaction is successful.

Such revenue-generating transactions are essential to monitoring speed and response time. If a synthetic audit check fails, you can retrieve specific data for each action, such as filling in a field or clicking a button. This allows you to monitor particular performance issues further so you can fix them before users notice and abandon their shopping carts.

Real user monitoring (RUM)

Real user monitoring (RUM) data helps observe performance load times. RUM reports the data you expect from a speed test like Google Page Speed ​​Insights. This includes load times, bugs, a bunch of page speed, TTI, and first-paint glitches. 

The main advantage of RUM is that it's continuous, helping you establish performance data baselines to compare new traffic and speed. It is this comparison that reveals ways to improve website performance and speed.

Depending on the tool you choose, RUM can track various errors like JavaScript errors from 4xx/5xx and give you page speed data specific to a URL or group of URLs in a particular region. What's often overlooked with free tools are geographic breakdowns of page speed.

Remember, not all locational probe servers are the same. RUM can help determine which vendors are helping and hindering your site's availability. Besides uptime, page speed affects your searchability.

Page speed testing tools

Page speed testing tools help monitor the health and performance of desktop and mobile browsers.  The tools are either free or have a licensing cost. The free version of page speed testing gauges the weight, loadability and domain score of your websites on website and mobile interfaces. The paid version offers additional insights into content health that the enterprise specialises in.

Here is a boiled-down list of different page speed testing tools that can help increase site speed and decrease website load time.

  • Google Page Speed Insights:  Google Page Speed Insights is the basic Google webmaster solution that provides you with website speed metrics and core web vitals for analyzing performance. The tool is free of cost and can be used to diagnose site health, site mapping and RSS content that goes into the webpage. It also offers page health metrics, domain score, 404 pages and much more.
  • GTmetrix: GTmetrix is a free tool that is a webpage supervisor that generates speed scores, server redirects and response metrics to keep your performance at bar with competing websites. GTmetrix is one of the most reliable solutions that checks website load time and benchmarks it against the ideal score. It also gives you real-time alerts and prompts to fasten your URL turnarounds.
  • WebPage Test: WebPage test is a website performance indicator tool that saves you the hassle of maintaining CSS documents and crawled reports. It optimizes the efficiency of your website and displays connection speeds over different interfaces desktop and mobile to dominate search results across different electronic devices.
  • WP Rocket: WP Rocket is a WordPress plugin that caches your pages with static HTML files and boosts browser behaviour and load times. It also comes with an additional plugin, known as Yoast SEO, that analyzes on-page SEO health and suggests critical recommendations to the web developer. 
  • KeyCDN Performance Test: It is a single asset performance software that supervises the usability of your content across different infrastructures and delivery networks while weighing you in on performance health, speed boost metrics and load efficiency.
  • Site Speed Test by SEMrush: Site Speed Test is a website audit plugin provided by SEMrush, Inc. It is an advanced reporting dashboard which evaluates your SEMrush projects, in-depth website traffic metrics and keyword data. 

How does page speed impact SEO?

It may come as a shock, but keyword placement isn't the only variable affecting search engine optimization (SEO) results. When it comes to searchability and rankings, page speed plays a crucial role in deciding your site’s fate – the slower the speed, the lower the search rankings.

Search engines attach great importance to page speed when crawling sites as it provides an excellent indication of overall website quality and user experience. Think of it as a core web vitals check. When page speed is optimal, there's a good chance the rest of the site is, too.

When it comes to SEO, slow and steady wins the race. It's a continuous effort that takes time and patience to see small wins. Unfortunately, all of that valuable time and energy invested in SEO tactics is wasted if the site's page speed is unusually slow. This is especially true when compared to competing sites and solutions that rank higher for the same keywords as your funnel.

Due to the SEO importance placed on page load time and first-byte type, it’s difficult for your website to be competitive in search results if it’s not competitive with load times.

Tip: Search engines allow a certain amount of time to crawl pages. Your rankings and results will only be based on a partial view if the loading time exceeds the allotted time.

How to improve page load time

Improving load time is essential, but it’s only part of the purpose behind page speed testing. Once the speed data is in, it's time to prioritize and take action to improve page speed.

Optimize website code

Servers download your resources before a browser loads your website. So ensuring your code can download quickly is a big step in improving site speed. Free tools usually suggest compressing CSS and Javascript files. This also streamlines the delivery of your JS and CSS by reducing the number of critical resources required to load your site's content in terms of TTI.

Format website media

Most sites rely on media. From animations to static images and videos, media are the largest files to load. So what are the best tips to optimize media on your site?

First, make sure your format is optimal and provides files in the correct order of priority. You can do this with HTML5 image tags to prioritize image loading based on device and desired loading order.

Run basic website checks 

You don't want to compromise your page speed for something routine. Verifying that your DNS and SSL certificates are up to date seems like a no-brainer. But these basics are often overlooked. Unfortunately, when these certificates fail, the impact is painfully noticeable to external users and internal stakeholders.

You should also ensure you don't appear on blacklists such as DNS or domain blacklists, Google Safe blacklists (and lists for other search engines), or spam and phishing blacklists. You can monitor this with a free or advanced website performance solution. However, remember that free solutions are a one-time deal while paid tools are ongoing.

Deep dive

Different types of website monitoring checks need to be combined to go beyond the basics of speed testing. It's okay if some tests overlap with free tools or monitoring solutions you pay for. In fact, having redundancy in monitoring your website only further helps you avoid potential problems and outages.

Test websites from multiple locations 

What’s causing the problem? Is it a site element? Or server-related? Do all users experience the latency or is it just in specific locations? When it comes to page speed, location is everything as speed can fluctuate depending on the servers.

To capture the page speed market, test across multiple locations – ideally the areas that drive the most traffic to your site. Building a simple HTTP(S) check can be a solution if you configure specific test sites.

Remember, you're looking for monitoring that ensures status OK 200 and generates response time metrics that enable observing unexpected timeouts. It’s a bonus if your monitoring allows you to customize your timeout thresholds.

Create synthetic monitoring and RUM 

Pairing synthetic and real user monitoring services gives websites a holistic view of the user experience, from general page interactions to specifics of form submissions or shopping carts. The added elements of RUM provide detailed performance reports based on browser type, operating system, device, and geography.

Page speed best practices

What are you doing right or need to get right when it comes to page speed? Is your page speed on track or negatively impacting your site's performance? Let's look at some best tools that help you better your website monitoring for faster growth.

Layer-free monitoring tools

Use free tools for a comprehensive overview of page speed performance. This tactic also offers the security that comes with monitoring redundancy, which helps compare and validate the accuracy of your free tools' results.

Create a schedule

Create a schedule for using free tools. Unlike advanced website monitoring tools, these are not automated and provide a one-time site analysis. Planning when and what tools to run on your site helps you stay organized and aware of any issues that may arise.

Implement the information

The information you get from free tools varies depending on your choice. Some provide list-like recommendations for optimizing code, while others simply offer time and metrics.

Keep in mind that free tools don't always put you in control of testing intervals or locations. Without the reports provided by advanced monitoring solutions, you don't have the same visual reference to identify legitimate performance issues.

Best practices for advanced page speed monitoring

If an advanced monitoring solution seems like a good fit, keep these must-haves on your list.

  • Choose a tool that allows customization. In terms of page speed, it helps to control your thresholds and server locations. Basic checks like HTTP(S) can only validate a response or validate strings, headers, and so on.
  • Ensure you have testing control. The ability to configure the testing frequency of your monitoring checks is one of the most significant benefits of advanced monitoring tools. Use a tool that puts you in control of continuous testing intervals so you can collect the performance data that matters most to your website or application.
  • Reporting shows trends over time. Reporting is mission-critical when looking at overall response times and RUM metrics. Seeing your metrics’ trajectory is a visual tool for quickly identifying latency and performance gaps.

Speed up your performance marketing

Page speed performance is a priority. Monitoring page speed and time to interact are crucial, but other assets and elements are also important. Understanding your response time for each key user path and real-world user experience data provides a high-level overview of optimization opportunities.

Manage web pages, track changes, get notified, and improve site performance with website change monitoring software.

website monitoring software
An eagle eye for your business

Monitor, test, and report your site speed and performance with website monitoring software.

website monitoring software
An eagle eye for your business

Monitor, test, and report your site speed and performance with website monitoring software.

What is Page Speed? How to Load Website Faster Improve your page speed and be at the forefront of web mastering by diagnosing performance, monitoring health and improving page load times with free tools
Yoni Solomon Yoni Solomon is the CMO at, delivering web monitoring peace of mind to thousands of customers around the world. He has spent a decade launching new products for ($257M raised, Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies for 2020), PowerReviews (#49 on Deloitte's Fast 500, #1 in Chicago in 2018), and Vibes ($45M raised in 2016). Yoni's thought leadership on go-to-market strategy is published in Forbes. He's been recognized as one of tech's most influential product marketers by the Product Marketing Alliance, which named his team at G2 2019's Product Marketing Team of the Year.

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