Check Website Speed: How to Master Google’s New “Fast Page” Label
Website speed is important. In fact, it’s touted as one of the major factors of a website’s search performance. If a site is lightning fast, visitors are more likely to stick around, read your content, and ultimately convert into a customer. Google recently announced that it will be identifying sites that, “typically load fast or slow for users with clear badging.” In other words, Chrome will be rewarding fast websites and shaming slow ones. Today, we’ll talk about Google’s methodology behind website speed, suggest ways for you to check website speed yourself, and also recommend ways to speed up your site and improve your rankings to boost your business!
Google’s Algorithm: Website Speed
Google’s main objective is to offer an outstanding browsing experience for its users. Because of this, speed has been one of Chrome’s core principles since the beginning. The newly-announced badging system is intended to help users understand which sites are delivering fast load times, and avoid sluggish ones. Google promises to set realistic expectations so that all developers will be able to achieve an acceptable website speed.
Ultimately, Google is looking to improve the Chrome experience for its users. But, this new badging system is also a not-so-gentle nudge for website owners who don’t regularly check website speed to get their URLs up to snuff so that they may offer the best possible experiences to their users, too. As they say, rising tides lift all boats. And in this case, the tide is website speed.
Google’s Suggestions for Checking Website Speed
If you’re reading this and are already worried that Chrome will slap the hideous slow site speed badge on your URL, don’t worry! Having a slow website is not the kiss of death if you make the proper reconciliations. Google suggests the following resources to check website speed for yourself:
PageSpeed Insights is an online tool created by Google that shows speed field data for your site, alongside suggestions for common optimizations to improve it. We strongly recommend running Page Speed Insights as you make changes to your website to check website speed and ensure no changes lead to poor load times.
Lighthouse is a lab tool providing personalized advice on how to improve your website across performance and other best practices. This tool can be found and run from Chrome DevTools. In short, you use Lighthouse to improve the quality of your website pages.
Improve Website Page Load Speed: Images and Videos
After you check website speed and discover room for improvement, there are a few simple tricks that may help. Some of the main culprits in snail-paced websites are images and videos. Both the total number of assets and the size of each asset factor into how the website performs. If the image and video file sizes are too big, this results in slow load times. If the total number of images and videos is too high, again, slow load times. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Use Superior Image Formats
JPEG 2000, JPEG XR, and WebP are all newer image formats that have better compression compared to their older JPEG and PNG counterparts. All of these image formats even provide increased image quality as well.
Resize Images First
Don’t waste unnecessary site space by resizing images to the appropriate display size before uploading. Shutterstock gives you access to over 340 million public domain images (easily downloadable in JPG format!) and a user-friendly photo editor tool for a monthly fee. Compression tools like Compress images with a program like Compress JPEG or Compress PNG before uploading them to your website.
Videos are a welcome addition to any website. These days, one could argue they’re even a necessity. But simply throwing one on for the sake of having it can significantly impact your website speed. If you use videos on your website compress them with tools like Handbrake, Adobe Premiere Pro, or Clideo.
Embedding VS. Uploading
The age-old debate rolls on. To upload or to embed, that is the question. When you upload a video, you are taking the video file itself and uploading it to your own web hosting server. This means every video takes up space. Space you may not have, especially if you’re on a shared server. On the other hand, you can conserve this valuable space by embedding your video. However, this puts your content on another platform like Vimeo or YouTube and you lose some control. Often not an option for sites with paid content. Ultimately, consider both options as well as the resources available to you to guide you toward the best decision.
Background images, carousels, and large images on your website pages can seriously lag your load time. Check website speed currently and see if you have an issue. If you do, use only visual assets that add value to your user experience. Avoid throwing in extra media just for flare.
Improve Website Page Load Speed: Upgrade Web Hosting Package
As we’ve mentioned previously, the quality of your web hosting package can have a huge effect on the speed of your website. Just use Page Speed Insights and check website speed if you don’t believe us. Finding a reliable web hosting service provider can help your business stay online while honing its performance. Secure web hosting packages often offer Speed Optimization, SSL Certification, 24/7 Web Monitoring, Daily Backups, Proactive Web Maintenance, and Advanced Firewall Protection. Together, they can help keep your website safe, secure, and speedy.
Hurry Up and Optimize Your Website Speed!
With Google’s new “fast page” label, a heavier emphasis has been placed on business owners to check website speed. There is no time to waste, literally. Take advantage of the resources available to check your site speed, then follow the steps above to make improvements to avoid the badge of death (okay, maybe it’s not that bad, but it certainly won’t be good for business!). For more help on improving your website’s speed and overall performance, talk to an expert at Interactive Design Solutions. We’ve got years in the website design and secure hosting industry under our belt, and we’d love to share our knowledge!