Pagespeed Insights: How to Use a Website Speed Test

Google Ranks Sites Based on How Fast They Load

How to Use a Website Speed TestLearn how and why you should use a website speed test to find out how fast it loads. ¬†You don’t want to be penalized for a slow page load time on your site. Google and other search engines are emphasizing how quickly pages load, especially on mobile devices, as part of the 200+ elements of their ranking algorithms.

To further prove the point, there is also keen interest in the new Accelerated Mobile Pages Project. (Click the link to find out more)

Many things can affect how quickly a website loads, but one of the biggest drags on page load time are large images, or more specifically, HEAVY images.

Site visitors evaluate a web page in 5-8 seconds by scanning it before they decide to actually read the content. Images can help visitors get a sense of what the site is about, whether graphics or pictures.

Case Study: Images and Page Load Time

We audit all websites that we work with at the beginning to set a benchmark and to look for opportunities to improve website performance.

One client had unusually slow page load time on a fairly small site without much text and virtually no video. Some hosting companies offering cheap hosting can be the cause of slow site load speeds because of high server load when they host thousands of sites on one server.

We ran website speed tests on some of the other sites on the server and they were loading faster than the client, so it had to be something else.

When we looked at the Media library for the site, we noticed that the pictures were all a million bytes or more and many of them were 2.2 megabytes per picture. Those take a LOT longer to load than image files of 100,000 bytes or less and increase the page load time considerably.

The client was uploading pictures to his site without reducing the DPI (Dots Per Inch) before uploading. These heavy files were taking a long time to load!

Quality printing requires a DPI of 600, 1200 or even 2400. You need that kind of resolution when you want to print a picture of Aunt Peggy at her retirement party and put it in a picture frame on your bookshelf.

But the highest resolution on the web is 72dpi, so anything more is overkill, unless you expect someone to print out the page.

For your website, you’d want to use a program like Adobe Elements (AffLink) to strip out the excess resolution. Cropping the image can make it better too. Most computers already have software that will allow you to optimize images for the web, including adjusting the brightness and contrast.

Our client was using WordPress to re-size his images, but did not understand that that only changes how big the image is in the browser and not the size of the file that is downloaded every time someone looks at the page, and even then 96 dpi is usually fine.

We recommended that his Summer intern resize all of the images on their site and blog for better site load speed. Their results improved significantly.

There are some free online tools to optimize images for the web, we like PicMonkey and Pixlr.

Free Website Speed Test

Different applications test page load time differently. You’ll get different readings using the same tool because different locations, which you can specify. If your website is hosted on a server in Arizona, your Page Load Speeds will be different if tested from San Francisco, Chicago or London. You may want to test your page speed using more than one location.

Depending on current Internet health, your score may change from day-to-day! So test it more than once.

You will also get different readings and insights from different web page speed tests, so you might try more than one. Two of our favorites are:

Google Pagespeed Insights

Pingdom Site Speed Test

I hope this article has been helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comments below.


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