Slow Websites affect your marketing efforts because a slow loading page not only impacts your conversion rate but can also impact AdWords Landing Page Quality and ranking in Google search. Improving the performance of your website would in turn improve traffic to your site. Hope, you remember my old post on How to Fix Bounce Rate for More Traffic, now, this post will help you in identifying the standard webpage load times across the verticals.
Obviously, before diagnosing an issue with site load times, you must be aware that there is a problem. With your Google Analytics (GA) account, and the right settings, you could be alerted when your page load times raises above critical levels.
To get an overview of your websites overall performance, you should download this dashboard that configures into your Google Analytics Account. Head over to Google Analytics Solution Gallery and search for “Site Performance Dashboard”.
For each of the following metrics, I recommend that you set an alert to reach you when it goes above acceptable levels.
- Avg. Page Load times: 3 seconds
- Avg. Server Response Time: 2 Seconds
- Avg. Domain Lookup Time: 0.15-1 Second
- Mobile Page Load Time: 5 seconds
- Page Load time by Browser: 3 Seconds
- Load Time for Popular Pages: 3 Seconds
- Domain Lookup by Country: 0.15-1 Second (for Target audience Countries)
- Server Response Time by Country: 2 Seconds (for Target audience Country)
- Redirect Time for Countries: As small as possible (for Target audience Country)
You can find more information on how to create alerts, here.
“According to surveys done by Akamai and Gomez.com, nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less, and they tend to abandon a site that isn’t loaded within 3 seconds.” – From Kissmetrics
After identifying the presence of the problem, you need to diagnose the cause that is causing the issue. Yes, there could be multiple reasons for a site’s slow page load time. Here are some of them:
- A server is slow to respond to the request.
- The requested page is large.
- Requested resources embedded in page are large.
- Page contains server-side code that requires significant processing.
- Database is slow to respond.
- Page manipulates a lot of data before responding.
- Rendered page on the client contains a lot of code and runs slowly.
- A client is slow to resolve IP from the domain.
- Network between client and domain is slow or congested.
- And More.
To get to the specific issue, I would recommend using the combination of the following free tools: Pingdom Tools, Google’s Webmaster Tools, UptimeRobot, Monitor.us, Webpagetest. Pingdom Tools and Webpagetest can run a site speed check in detail. The results will give the overall loading time plus a list of your files and how long each of them took to load. That way, you can see what specifically is slowing things down. Pingdom and Webpagetest will save your test results so you can compare different days and times.
Google’s Webmaster Tools will automatically log your site’s load time every day. You can view these stats under Health—> Crawl Stats. The concerned graph is called “Time spent downloading a page (in milliseconds)”. Webmaster Tools will show you trends over time.
There are many more tools that could help you diagnose your issues with page load times. If you use or have used other tools to help you with this, I would like to hear back from you with what tools you recommend as well as your comments.