What is Page & Website Speed Optimization?

How to Test & Improve Your Website

Fast, faster, fastest……! In today’s age of technology and instant updates if you aren’t fast then you may as well be last! But just how fast do you have to be?

Well, let’s face it, you won’t be faster than Google. But do you have to be? Unless you are the Goog’s direct competitor, the answer is no, when it comes to page speed you only have to be faster than your direct online competitors. So how do you do this?

Below we will cover tools to measure page speed, review common errors that surface and how to fix them, and discuss vacation rental industry averages for page speed as measured by Blizzard in a small scale case study.

How Fast Should Your Website Be?

Website Speed Optimization Tools for Testing

WARNING: Tools are a wonderful thing when it comes to working on the web. But take the results with a grain of salt, as they don’t give the full picture. None of them are perfect or work the same way. They use different metrics and calculate effectiveness, speed, and performance differently.

Our advice? Find a few favorites and use them all to help you make the best decisions. Using more than one tools allows you to catch errors as well as presume averages when it comes to metric values.

  • Google Page Speed Insights

    Good ol’ Google Page Speed Insights, developed by none other than the Goog, this tool is essential to have in your mix of testing tools! If you aren’t doing well in terms of speed and performance then you better get to work. Google takes page speed and many other metrics into account when determining SERP (search engines results page) rankings. So, if your website is slow, you most likely won’t rank well!

  • Pingdom

    As the Pingdom homepage says, ‘Nobody likes a slow website’ and their tool will help you fix just that! Great for novices and experts alike this tool reviews the following content types to determine where the hang-ups on your webpage might be.

    • HTML
    • Javascript
    • CSS
    • Images
    • Text/Plain
    • Other (Like Videos)
    • Warnings
    • Redirects
  • GTMetrix

    GTMetrix is king of them all in our eyes. Not only does it parse your data it also gives you actionable recommendations on how to optimize for faster speeds! Now, of course, you must know what ‘Defer parsing of JavaScript’ and ‘Leverage Browser caching’ means in order to fix it but no doubt your developer can help you out and translate! Plus GTMetrix has great help resources to explain it all.

    Note: If you create an account with GTMetrix you will get priority page crawling when you submit for testing and its FREE!

Common Page Speed Errors & Where to Start

Blizzard executed a mini case study on a variety of vacation rental websites, all of which were built on various platforms that integrate with numerous property management systems. We found the following errors to be the most common amongst all sites tested:

  • Leverage browser caching
  • Defer parsing of Javascript
  • Optimize images
  • Minimize redirects

Wait, what? What does that mean?

TRANSLATION:

  • Leverage browser caching: This means you should specify how long web browsers should keep images, CSS and Javascript stored locally. Browsers saving some files for later can improve page speed when guests come back to your website.
  • Defer parsing of Javascript: This means you should minimize the use of Java as much as possible as the parsing of all script tags, adds additional time to the page load. Additionally, deferring the parsing of unneeded JavaScript until it needs to be executed can also reduce the initial load time.
  • Optimize images: This means you should compress all images larger than 1MB to their smallest possible form without losing quality and then upload for use on your site. Serving appropriately sized images can make a huge difference (but is usually only the first step).
  • Minimize redirects: This means you should have as few 301 redirects in place as possible. Every redirect or daisy chain is another piece of data that must be read at load. Auditing active redirects regularly is a good best practice to get in the habit of.

Vacation Rental Industry Website Speed Insights

In our case study, we tested several vacation rental websites including our own WordPress + BRE combination and found the following industry insights. However, before you test your domain to see if you stack up, be sure to keep the following in mind:

  • The vacation rental and travel industry at large will have larger page sizes than most sites because of how image heavy the content on travel-related websites can be. Travel is a visual industry and showing guests the experience while they shop is imperative, so we must do it well!
  • You only have to be faster than your direct online competitors.
  • The rules are always changing, though the amount of time your page spends loading will likely always be important especially in the age of speed. Keep in mind that as much as Google values page speed today it could be something else tomorrow. Be sure to find the balance amongst your resources to find how best to spend your time.
2 - 3.1MB

Average Page Size

105 - 134

Average Number of Requests for Server to Load Page

1.9 - 2.2s

Average Time to First Byte

Need some help testing and optimizing your website?

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