Page Speed & Why You Should Care
A Page Speed Conundrum for You: why are dog catchers scared of page speed metrics?
Because they don’t like measuring the “time to first byte.” Okay, bad pun aside, whether you’re measuring the instant a web page starts to load (first byte) or the instant all the content on a page is displayed (page load time), page speed metrics matter. A lot.
You probably already know, Site Speed is a key component of how GooBinYah indexes and ranks your overall site. And that Site Speed metric is really derived from Page Speed.
Site Speed metrics are a bit obscure, locked in the inner recesses of all the elements that make up your website. Kind of like SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Want to start a debate at your next get together with your IT guys and gals, just ask about Site Speed or SEO. Don’t ask about both, you’ll never get home.
There is no specific speed or number you have to reach (see below for Google’s scoring). We do know this, a higher speed number is better than a lower one. Just know that the numbers can range over time. That’s why it is a good idea to look at Site Speed scores once-in-a-while.
Don’t panic if they go up or down 10 to 20 or so points. Ever monitor your credit score over time? (Editor’s note: I do track mine and one of my credit scores dropped 20 points in a matter of days. And, no, not from holiday shopping!)
The “Why Should You Care” part
In the age of customer-centricity, it doesn’t take a genius to know a slow website can have a negative impact on your business. Slow page loading online is just like slow service at a restaurant. Frustrating, time consuming, even confusing. An annoyed restaurant diner can’t switch restaurants with one click, but an online shopper can.
Here is our advice to guide you as you review your Site Speed metrics in an easy-peasy 1, 2, 3.
- Test your site speed on a regular basis. Monthly is a reasonable target. It’s free and gives you a benchmark to watch over time. Google’s PageSpeed Index is the gold standard, listed at the top below.
- Evaluate site speed (0 to 100). What’s a good score? Google says a score of 0 to 49 is poor, between 50 and 90 needs improvement, 90 and above is great. That’s a challenging range. Please note that as we publish this post, TextConnects.com’s Site Speed range is 81 to 95. We worked and continue to work to maintain and increase that number. Please note: Google.com’s Site Speed is 67. Ahem, case closed.
- Don’t forget mobile! In late 2018, Google started ranking your site using mobile page speed as a ranking factor. Where did I put my Palm Pilot again?
What affects page speed scores:
- Any app you install can slow your store to a crawl
- Tracking Pixels for Sales CRM are typically very hard on page speed – knocking 10+ points off your Page Speed score
- Klaviyo (a popular marketing automation platform) is relatively good for page speed, only drops a couple of points
- GEMPAGES / SHOGUN Page Builders show very poor performance and add a large amount of “bloat” to your store.
- Shopify Themes can definitely affect your page speed
- Theme Previews in the theme store are setup to be the best performant and typically are a lot higher scores than you will ever get
- Make sure you don’t upload a 300 DPI photo to your store, it will not be visually any different but will take a lot longer to load on slower connections
Suggest 2500x2500px and 72-90dpi JPG files. Shopify will automatically convert images to newer formats to help with web performance.
* Feel like learning more? Smashing Magazine has a great article about the newer image formats.
How to analyze your Speed Report from Google
- Initial Server Response Time – This is the time it takes for your THEME code to generate a page. It should be less than 700ms (lower is better)
- Defer Offscreen Images - Users don’t typically scroll all the way to the bottom of the page, why load the photo all the way at the bottom until someone scrolls there
- Reduce Impact of third-party code – Here is where you can see which apps are causing slow downs on your store. Look at the MAIN THREAD Blocking Time. Anything more than 100ms is something to look closer at.
DO NOT DELETE STUFF
- Our Warning to you – don’t just delete apps or code blocks without knowing what you are doing and what you are deleting. If you delete the wrong thing you may “break” your store
Okay, now that you are “up to speed” on Page Speed and Site Speed, go to work! There are ancillary benefits from poking around in these metrics. We can almost guarantee you’ll find other items that might deserve your attention.