Speed is the most important factor for any website in 2021. Not only do search engines love it but it also improves visitor journey as a result websites get more leads and conversions.
Most people don’t know the speed of their website because they don’t know there are ways to check that online. That’s where site speed tests help.
Website speed tests can be of great resource for anyone who is trying to improve the performance of his website but unsure what factors to focus on. Without doing the website speed analysis, it is really difficult to find the elements that are reducing site performance.
In this article, we are going to focus on some of the best ways to examine a site speed correctly; discuss various tools that can be used to run site speed tests; find out things that can directly affect website performance; and a lot more that will directly help websites administrators track and improve performance. So, let’s start and measure your website speed and track improvements.
But before we get to that, let’s learn why you should perform a website speed test.
Why Test Your Website Page Speed?
Website speed can influence the way you conduct business. A site speed test shows the issues that your website is passing through and how to easily solve them. Without the right speed test in place, it gets really difficult to get visitors because search engines will decrease the search ranks of your site. Similarly, visitors coming from social media or through paid marketing will lose interest because of the high loading time.
Since Google has made the performance a core part of its rank math algorithm, your website performance now directly impacts your SEO results. If your website pages load slowly i.e. take more than 5 seconds to load visitors will move to another website. Whenever they press the back button or close the browser, this action will be recorded by Google bots and they will decrease your site rank.
Business websites usually have a single purpose and that is to get more leads and customers. When websites are not getting leads, they are not serving the purpose that was decided for them in the first phase. A major factor that impacts the conversion rate is site performance. People just don’t want to visit slow websites because it wastes their time and is not beneficial for the business as well.
If you check the user flow on your website, you will see that visitors visit two or three pages on the site before buying a product. This is called the multi-step lead generation process. It is the most common way of getting leads or orders. Now if a visitor gets to your website and the landing page is just too slow to load, he/she will bounce off. When more visitors start bouncing off because of performance, this will mean that the user experience has deteriorated. It will directly impact the business bottom-line.
Factors Affecting Website Page Speed
A few ways that directly impact website page speed include the following:
If server or caching applications are not installed on your website, it won’t give optimum performance. That’s why you must get servers with pre-installed Nginx, Varnish, Redis, Memcache, and Redis caches. Moreover, you can add application-level caching such as Nitropack, WPRocket or another caching service.
Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) are an important aspect of website content distribution. If they are not properly set up, or not set up at all, your website performance is directly impacted.
Another important factor to consider is compression. Scripts and images directly impact site speed because they increase the page size considerably. They are often harder to locate because developers don’t realize that the scripts or assets have increased the page size. However, with effective practices and plugins, these can be controlled.
WordPress core update and site plugins can also create speed and performance issues. If plugins are outdated, they can create looped scripts that keep rolling in the background and increase page load time.
How to Properly Run a Website Speed Test
Many tools exist to run website speed tests online. However, not all of them will provide you the most accurate results about your website. So, in this example, we are using Pingdom and GTMetrix to tell you about a few things that you should check for your website.
First of all, the location of your server matters. If you are not sure about the location of the server or how it can impact your site performance, you will not be able to optimize it for better speed. Consider this: Would you prefer to live in an area where shops are available or within an area where you don’t get any shops? People like to live near shops because they can easily get the things they need. Websites are just like these shops. If they are near to the visitor, they will load far more quickly. When they load quickly, more people are going to get things from them.
Three important factors that are directly impacted by site location are proximity, Time to First Byte (TTFB) and network latency.
Points to Note:
- Make sure that the location you choose for testing is nearest to your website server. If the hosting server is based in Alaska, then the nearest location for testing would be in Canada.
- Test website speed with and without CDN to test the difference in performance and note both down.
- Try multiple speed tests to ensure that your website server doesn’t have lag.
- Test Multiple Times for accuracy
When testing the performance of a website, you can’t rely on the first test. It is important that you run multiple tests and then find the average of all to know what your website speed actually is.
Similarly, if you use a caching system such as server or application caching, then you would need to test the website with caching and without it to see how much time the site will take to load for a new user.
When a new user comes to your website, he/she won’t have the cache available. When you test the site multiple times, it loads the site directly by sending requests to the cache instead of the server. This provides you with an accurate picture of your site performance and how it will show up for users from various locations.
As you can see, when the page is loaded from the cache it shows HIT next to it. Since we have installed NitroPack cache on our website, it is registering that in the Response Headers section. So, it means that our website cache is working. We will run a test from another location and test the speed again.
As you can see both the tests show that Nitro cache was HIT and the user received the cached page. It means that the cache is successfully set up and your website is ready for visitors.
In our case, the website TTFB was 30ms – the time it took the favicon to load and the whole site followed suit. TTFB is the actual time that the server takes to load. If the server has more lag or limited bandwidth or a limited number of PHP workers assigned for the job, the site will load slowly.
This was the actual result of our website speed testing on the Pingdom tool.
As you can see, the performance is A grade, and the page size is 113KBs with 207ms total load time. This website test speed is impressive but this would eventually increase to 500ms when we add another theme or load the website with relevant plugins needed for site working.
However, even if a fully loaded website loads under 1 second that is a great performance metric. Not only the website will attract visitors but it will ensure a smooth user experience across all devices.
How BionicWP Optimizes Your Website’s Load time and Performance
BionicWP managed WordPress hosting platform doesn’t rely on a single method to improve website speed and performance. Although from a bird-eye view it looks like BionicWP is using Nitropack but the following features have a key role to play in improving performance :-
It hosts the website servers on Google C2 High Compute cloud instance. These are already extremely fast servers for websites. In fact, these servers are the backbone of Google.com so you can guess how fast these servers actually are.
The hosting stack includes Nginx, MariaDB with Linux Containers, and PHP 7.4. Nginx is already the fastest available web server. Linux Containers isolate your applications from other applications, hence creating a virtual environment that is dedicated to the performance of your website alone. On the other hand, MariaDB is one of the fastest relational databases available. It is even faster than MySQL so you can imagine what type of performance you will get when you have a performance stack made of MariaDB with LXD. Finally, PHP 7.4 is the most recent stable PHP version available to date. It is not only installed on the WordPress core offered by BionicWP core, but it is a recommended PHP version for all new WordPress websites.
BionicWP couples its hosting stack with its own powerful CDN service. It comes pre-enabled on all websites hosted on BionicWP. However, users can also enable the BionicWP CDN from their website management dashboard.
The last ingredient to achieve a 90+ score on GTMetrix ,even for the heaviest websites, is with hyper optimized Nitropack plugin. The best part about the Nitropack plugin is that BionicWP developers have embedded it within the WordPress installation. So it doesn’t serve as a plugin but it comes pre-installed with all WordPress cores.
Case Studies: Websites That Achieved 90+ GTMetrix Score on BionicWP
Let’s see a few websites that have moved to BionicWP and improved site performance by leaps and bounds.
The website had a 15 second page load time and 2.42MB page size. It had a C page speed score on GTMetrix.
When the website administrators moved to BionicWP, you can see the results of how much site speed actually improved. And all this was because of the hosting stack that BionicWP offered to Ciment Law Firm.
Angrysale.com is an ecommerce website. The site load time was 3 seconds and 2.53MB page size before it moved to BionicWP.
When the website moved to BionicWP, the hosting stack reduced the request size from 198 requests to 30 requests only. Moreover, the page size decreased from 2.53MBs to 280KBs. All this reduced the page load time from 3.9secs to 2.1secs only.
Best Website Speed Test Tools in 2020
Let’s see some of the best website speed testing tools that we can use for speed testing. When it comes to website speed tests, there are many options available. So, it is better that you can choose more than two website speed tests to test your website instead of one. Always aim for a load time of less than one second on all the speed tests where you test your website.
With that said, let’s review all these website speed tests one by one.
Google has launched a page speed test of its own to gauge site performance. This tool directly reports the performance of websites based on a number of factors used in core web vitals – the Google search ranking tool.
The tool tests performance on both mobile devices and desktop devices. As you can see our website is being shown a complete 100 on the Google website mobile test.
However, it also tells us that we can improve the site performance even further if we take action on the following recommendations.
Since Google speed test is also available as a plugin to test website performance, you can add it to Chrome. Simply search for the Lighthouse Chrome extension and it will get installed on your Chrome browser.
Pingdom is another great speed testing tool for websites and web apps. It also offers a number of servers – all located at different places around the globe – to test your website. Pingdom is known for its precision and accuracy testing.
The basic test report shows performance grade, page size, load time, and the number of requests sent to the server. However, geeks can go granular to see loading time down to each script.
Users can also learn ways to improve their site performance with Pingdom. Like it recommends the following actions for our website to improve the site performance even further.
Suggestions that are in RED should be implemented first because they are directly impacting the site performance. Improving them can give a big boost to user engagement, leads, and conversions.
GTMetrix is the most popular website testing tool available online. The speed testing tool offers GTMetrix grades and also the core web vitals so that users can easily see if they are meeting the Google search speed metrix. GTMetrix allows website testing from various different locations so that site administrators can observe their website speed from their nearest testing server.
The best part about the GTMetrix speed testing tool is that it shows a comprehensive report where you can see the shortcomings of your website and take action accordingly. It merges tests from YSlow and Google page speed tests and provides a comprehensive speed test report.
Web page performance test is another testing website that you can use to run speed tests. It tests website vitals performance, page speed and performance, TTFB, and total page load time. It also ranks your website for a number of speed and security factors.
Web page speed tests can run speed tests from several locations so when testing with this website make sure to choose a location that is near to your place.
The speed testing tool tests performance on many factors. It ran 3 tests for our website and you can see the details of these tests below.
The testing tool uses the waterfall method to test site performance.
Uptrends is another widely used page speed testing tool in the market. It tests for the regular speed parameters but it also tests for domain and page-level issues. You have the liberty to choose a browser of your choice, the screen resolution, and the server location to start the test. Once the test is complete, it sends a detailed report about website performance, loading performance, core website vitals, page size, and third party factors that impact site performance.
The TTFB performance can be tested by Uptrends by running multiple tests and see which one works best for your website. It also suggests issues that can be fixed to improve site performance even further.
DareBoost is another site speed testing tool that you can use to check the number of issues your site has related to performance. All these issues can directly impact performance and even user journey. With DareBoost, users can make improvements to their website themselves without hiring a developer for the same issues. What I liked the most about the Dareboost speed test is that it provides a comprehensive report that an average user can understand. They have kept the technical jargon to a minimum and made it easier for people to get to the improvements section.
The scoreboard shows the user how much performance score they are missing by not optimizing their site. Since most of these things don’t require a developer, users can download and install plugins to do these things easily.
The test makes it easier for people to understand how much time it takes a user to visit the website and what are the hindrances the user faces when he visits the site. Moreover, if someone is interested in getting into details, they can click on the Timeline.
Timeline offers a more granular look at how various factors influence website speed directly. It also checks for TTFB, DOM Load, Windows Page Load, LCP, Visual Completion, and Full Page Load parameters.
Load Impact is the most sophisticated and advanced testing tool available for free online. It is now called the K6 load testing tool. The purpose of load testing is to see how many users a website can handle without breaking. With K6 website testing tool, you can easily send a number of concurrent users and see the request time per user. It will help you analyze if the server is performing to its optimum level or if it requires site optimizations.
We can run the test for free as you can see we have put 2000 requests on the server concurrently and the response time per request was 59ms, which is kind of great. If it was an ecommerce website, this would have been a great response time for catering to each user on the site.
The max time a request took was only 80ms and this is 0.08 seconds for the initial request from the server. It can also be called the first view or the first byte received from the server.
You can also run multiple other tests on Load Impact regarding your website to see how it is behaving and what measures you can take to improve its performance even further.
How to Correctly Examine Site Speed?
When testing the speed of any website, make sure to follow these points for a precise and accurate result.
- Test from multiple website testing platforms: When you use multiple platforms such as Google Page Speed, GTMetrix, and Pingdom, you get different results. Some of these tools will tell you higher performance, some of these will tell you lower performance. Make an average of all three. This is your actual site performance.
- Implement suggestions of speed testing tools: You can improve your website performance considerably if you only follow the recommendations given by these speed testing tools.
- Check Core Web Vitals: Each tool has its own parameters to test site performance. The most reliable of all of them are Google Page Speed Insights and Google Search Console Core Web Vitals parameters. It is because they directly impact the performance of websites in searches. So, make sure to always check core web vitals to see how the site performance is.
Ready to Test Your Website Speed?
If you are looking to speed up your website, and you surely are, then the best way to go about is to use any of the tools that we mentioned above in our website. You can directly contact us at BionicWP or try our platform for free to check how much performance boost your website gets.
We guarantee top performance for every website hosted with us, and if you are on a managed hosting solution that is not offering the performance that you deserve, perhaps it is time to move. Because a faster website means better traffic and improved sales!