You need to learn how to test your website speed and interpret the test results. Otherwise, your slow-loading site will remain sluggish at showing your pages, which then causes all sorts of problems for your business.
Slow loading pages will hurt your conversion rates, keep your pages from ranking in the search engine results pages, it also frustrates your customers, and skyrockets your bounce rates, among other things.
TL;DR: Having a slow-loading site will wreck your business.
In this guide, we’ll teach you how to test your site speed and interpret the results.
1. Use intuitive website speed test tools.
To get precise measurements and insights on your website’s performance, use first-rate site speed testing tools.
The Internet offers several reliable, user-intuitive tools. Google alone provides PageSpeed Insights, Analytics Site Speed, and Chrome DevTools (specifically, Lighthouse). Other top-notch tools are Pingdom, GT Metrix, Uptrends, Dareboost, YSlow, and many more.
You can even check your website’s speed on mobile devices. Tools such as Google’s Mobile Website Speed Testing Tools are helpful for this assessment.
Additionally, maximize your examinations by applying correct techniques. These include choosing prime locations, repeating tests, etc. For your handy reference, check out the Elementor guide listing some best site speed test practices.
Once you measure your site speed with these solutions and get the results, you’re ready to analyze them.
2. Study significant metrics.
Focus on the significant aspects of your speed test results. These include:
Core Web Vitals
This metric captures your website’s real-life user experience from the field data collected from the Chrome browser information.
The first of its three indicators is the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP). It identifies the loading duration of the greatest element on your website. Ideally, your site’s LCP time should be 2.5 seconds or less.
If your website’s main content (e.g., your header image in the hero section) loads rapidly, visitors will think your entire site is fast-loading — even though the remaining content has a longer loading time.
The other two Core Web Vitals are First Input Delay (FID) and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). While unrelated to initial loading time, these metrics influence your website performance and, consequently, your user experience.
Page Loading Time
This metric indicates the duration of completely displaying a specific page’s content. It essentially answers the question, “When does my page finish loading?”
Additionally, you can define the metric with similar terms:
- Document Complete. This refers to when all static content has loaded, or — in technical language — the onLoad event fires.
- Fully Loaded. This is the point when all network activity has ceased for two seconds. It indicates that the page has finished loading.
According to Google, the best loading time should be fewer than three seconds. If your load speed is greater, visitors can perceive your site as slow and leave it for faster-loading competitors.
Your speed test report will reveal the number of requests your site’s page, domain, or various page elements make. Generally, the fewer HTTP requests your site needs, the faster it loads.
Google recommends having fewer than 50 requests per page. However, not all requests are equal. Some have larger sizes and loading times.
If your report flags a high quantity of HTTP requests created, lessen the number of elements on a specific page. This minimizes the volume of requests needed to load the page.
To view all this HTTP information, speed test results typically visualize it in a waterfall chart. With this display, you can see and understand better the sequence of how every HTTP request loads.
Time to First Byte (TTFB)
This refers to the average length it takes for your page to start loading. It is also the average response time of the first request on a specific page. It answers this question: How long does it take for a browser to get the first byte of server response after requesting a URL?
If you have a slow TTFB, your website will never seem fast regardless of how much you optimize your webpage’s other elements. This also makes the delay drastically noticeable for your visitors. A recommended TTFB (which should include network latency) is around 400 milliseconds.
The TTFB and Fully Loaded Page time metrics indicate your website’s performance, so focus primarily on optimizing them.
The page size metric in a speed test refers to your page’s overall size. It totals the file sizes of all images, code, scripts, and other elements on a page.
The general principle here is this: the smaller the page size is, the quicker it loads. It also implies that your visitors’ browsers can download fewer data to load your website.
Google recommends web pages to weigh under 500KB. Pages larger than that can significantly slow down your load times.
Moreover, take note of the size breakdowns of each content type shown in your speed test results. This helps you see which specific elements inflate your page.
3. Observe your site speed performance trend.
Test and measure your site speeds now and then. Monitor the general pattern and note any significant trends revealed by your reports. Ask yourself these reflective questions:
- Is my website getting larger and slower?
- Did the server update I created accelerate my site?
- What effect did my recent CDN transition produce?
- Did any plugins I enabled impact my site speed and performance? In what way?
Keep in mind also that returning visitors can experience your website differently than first-time site comers. For instance, if you installed a caching plugin, many resources will be cached. This radically enhances your load time for repeat visitors.
Periodically measure your site speed to assess your performance and the outcomes of any applied adjustments over time.
Maximize your speed test results through correct interpretation
With this guide, you can start testing your site speed and studying the report’s insights correctly.
While these actions seem inconsequential, they go a long way in improving your website.
They pinpoint weak performance aspects to help you optimize them and correct previous mistakes that lowered your metrics’ numbers. Of course, the sweeter outcome is getting better chances to attract and convert your visitors. So, kick off your speed assessment and analysis now to optimize your site and reach your top business goals.