How to test and improve web page load time

If there is one thing that everyone hates when surfing the internet, it is having a web page load much too slowly. This is one of the main causes of a high bounce rate. A slow loading speed makes users flee and significantly reduces your traffic and SEO. Many people jump to the conclusion that their internet connection is to blame but sometimes the cause is quite different. This problem can stem from a website that isn’t optimized enough to appear quickly or even from the server hosting the site. In this article, we recommend several techniques to test the load time of your web pages and determine whether it needs to be improved.

Why is page load time important?

Since 2016, the loading speed of web pages has become very important for increasing a website’s traffic and for SEO. Essentially, if a website takes more than 3 seconds to load, 53% of users will leave. In other words, not only does a slow loading speed reduce your traffic, it also affects your SEO. Google assigns a higher ranking to sites with an above-average load time. Moreover, if your bounce rate is high, Google will not be lenient when ranking you in SERPs. A high bounce rate indicates to Google that the site is poor quality.

For example, Google strongly encourages website owners to consider the accelerated mobile page (AMP) format, which means using a specially optimized HTML code for mobile pages, which makes them load faster. Note that the AMP format has advantages but also a number of disadvantages that will be discussed in a future article.

The best tools to test web page load time

The tools recommended by Google

Google PageSpeed Insights

Available in Google Search Console, PageSpeed ​​Insights is a very useful tool. It measures load time by analyzing the website’s content and even suggests detailed improvements to increase the loading speed of a page. Among the elements that the tool analyzes are image sizes, HTML resource sizes, the browser cache and the redirects … It carries out this analysis for both desktop and mobile pages.

This tool is all the more interesting since it comes from Google. It allows you to see how the search engine can impact your site’s positioning on its search results pages.

YSlow

The YSlow tool was created by the Yahoo search engine. It requires the Firebug extension on the Firefox browser, a tool for web developers that allows you to modify and control a website’s HTML, CSS, DOM or Javascript code. Once this extension is installed you can add YSlow, a useful tool to measure the load time of your pages. It also analyzes the website’s content and suggests ways to improve it. The difference is that it is based on Yahoo’s algorithm and is mainly intended for Firefox browser users.

WebPageTest

When it comes to the WebPageTest tool, it offers the same services as the previous tools but with free features that are paid on the other tools. For example, WebPageTest shows how much time is necessary for the first page to load and then refresh.

Other popular options for testing web page load times

GTMetrix

Available as a WordPress extension, the GTMetrix tool combines several features of Google PageSpeed ​​Insights and YSlow to generate its analysis and recommendations. It offers a fairly comprehensive free version as well as paid versions with a deeper analysis. This is probably the most frequently used web page load time tool for website owners. It is widely appreciated for its ease of use and its diverse functionalities.

Pingdom

Pingdom is another very popular tool among WordPress website managers. When you launch the analysis of your WordPress website via Pingdom, it generates a performance score, a total load time, the total size of the page and the number of requests generated when the page is opened. This tool is very useful for a quick and simple analysis of your page load times. It is simple to understand with its limited number of features that might be enough if they are the only indicators that interest you.

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Summing up how to test web page load time

There are countless tools available online to test a page’s load time. Some are free, while others offer more comprehensive packages. When making your choice, consider your expectations and goals if you want to find a tool with functionalities that perfectly fits what you are looking for.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need advice.