A Quick and Easy Guide for Website Owners: How to Measure Page Load Time and SEO in Google Chrome

measure page load time

One in four people will abandon a site if it takes more than four seconds to load.

Thus if your website loads slowly, it may not make as much money as you’d like it to. Especially when you consider that slow loading pages can impact SEO rankings. But if you don’t know much about improving website speeds, you likely have no idea how to remedy the problem.

In this post, we’re going to explore how you can use Google Chrome to measure page load time and SEO rankings, plus what you can do to fix the situation.

Make it to the end, and you’ll have a website so fast, competitors will be studying you to learn how they can improve their own site.

Let’s begin!

How to Measure Page Loading Speeds in Google Chrome

Be warned, this bit is going to be slightly technical. If you struggle to understand the data provided here, that’s okay. There are other ways you can measure page load speed, of which we’ll take a look at later.

First, open up a Google Chrome browser. Then type in the website you want to study. What you do next, is going to depend on the kind of computer you have.

If you have a Windows computer, press Ctrl+Shift+I.

If you have a mac, press Option+Command+I.

When you do this, you should be able to see the ‘Developers section’ of Google Chrome. Once here, you want to click on the ‘Network’ tab. After you do this, you should be able to see some data on the page loading time, for the website in question.

More specifically, you’ll be able to see data about the individual ‘elements’ of the page. This is helpful because it can let you know what is taking the longest to load. This can give you some insight into what you need to do to fix the problem.

There is a section at the top of the page, which breaks down the loading time into different ‘spaces of time.’

This is helpful because you can quickly see what elements are taking longer to load. For instance, you can click on the 1000ms section and see data on the elements taking this amount of time to load.

As mentioned, this section can be a bit technical. But you can always pass this information to a web developer, who’ll be able to make the needed changes to your site.

Measure Page Load Times Using Google Pagespeed Insights

If you’re struggling to understand how to use Google Chrome to understand page loading times, use a tool called PageSpeed Insights. This tool is also developed by Google, but it’s a lot easier to understand.

To use this tool, you’ll want to first pick a webpage on your site you want to study. You then go to the PageSpeed Insights section and type in the URL of the webpage.

The tool will then works its magic and determine how fast the webpage loads. This tool will then tell you what’s good about your site, but what is also dragging it down. There are generally two metrics provided, ‘Page Speed’ and ‘Optimization.’

Page Speed just lets you know how fast the website loads. Optimization is sort of a score designed to let you know if you’re doing everything you can to improve load times.

You’ll also have data on how fast your website loads on a desktop device, compared to a mobile device. This is helpful, considering that a lot of people will browse your site using a mobile device.

In the optimizations section, there will be some technical recommendations. For instance, you might find out that you need to reduce the size of the images. These recommendations can be quite intimidating at first.

But if you have a WordPress site, you can just install a plugin to help you with this. Some plugins will charge you for this functionality, but there are many free options. Make sure you install one that has a lot of positive reviews.

Or, you can hire a web developer to tackle of the recommendations the tool has provided you with.

Page Load Times and SEO

There’s reason to believe that page load times can have an impact on your SEO efforts. This is because of a something known as RankBrain. This is something used by Google to help determine how it should go about ranking sites.

If someone visits your website and the page takes a long time to load, they might end up clicking the back button. This is often called ‘pogo-sticking.’ Google will take this into account. Google’s aim is to provide the people using its search engine, with a good user experience.

If someone visits your site, and shortly after, clicks the back button, it’s a sign your site didn’t provide them with a good experience. Following this, Google has a reason to downgrade your rankings.

Following this, it’s important you factor page load times into your SEO strategy.

How to Understand Your SEO Efforts Using Google Chrome

Page loading speed isn’t the only factor that can affect SEO. There are many other things that come into the mix. Thankfully, you can use Google Chrome to help you figure out where you’re slipping up. Plus, you won’t have to pay anything to learn what’s going wrong.

To do all this, install an extension in the Chrome browser, known as the ‘Lighthouse extension.’

This is an extension released by Google, that provides a ton of different metrics on a website. One of those metrics being your SEO efforts.

Once you’ve installed this plugin, go to the website you want to study. Once there, click on the lighthouse icon in your toolbar. Then click on the ‘Generate report’ button.

When you do this, you should see the lighthouse animation start. You’ll need to wait a little bit as the extension gathers information on the website in question.

Eventually, a new tab will open and you’ll have a report that shows a bunch of different data reports, related to your website.

We’ll take a look at the rest of these reports later. The one we want to focus on right now is the SEO report. At the top of the page, you should see a score out of 100, that details the SEO performance of your site. If you click on this ‘score’ you will see the SEO section.

Here you’ll be able to see the various ways this plugin has judged your site and how your website measures up. An example might be whether your website is mobile friendly. Or even whether your site has stuck to certain content best practices.

The Importance of Consistent Checks

It’s important that you perform all these checks at least once on your site. But if you want to remain really competitive, you need to make sure you make the checks consistently. That’s because new website standards and SEO updates are often released.

If your website doesn’t meet these new updates, you will soon find yourself losing out to your competitors. Especially if they’re very diligent with their approach to this sort of stuff.

Ideally, you should put some time aside in your calendar to make these checks at least once a month. You should also sign up to the mailing lists provided by Google, that allow you to learn what is being released and when.

It’s also worth mentioning that you should venture outside of what we’ve covered in this post.

For instance, the lighthouse plugin provides a lot of other data on how you can improve the performance of your site. Nobody really knows what affect the SEO rankings of a site. So who’s to say whether making these other changes might have a positive impact on your SEO rankings.

There is not much harm in trying. If the changes do work, you’ll have an edge that your competitors may not have considered. Plus if it’s not best practice to make these changes, your competitors will struggle to identify what’s lead to an improvement in your rankings.

If you need help with all this, you can always hire a marketing firm to help you. An example being Atlanta SEO Solutions.

Ready to Measure Page Load Time and SEO Performance?

There are many things that can impact the performance of your website. The interesting thing is that all these things can also affect each other. For example, the speed of your website can affect the SEO results of your website.

In this post, we’ve taken a look at how you can use Google Chrome to measure page load time on your website. We’ve also reviewed how you can measure SEO performance, using the Lighthouse extension.

It’s important that you make checks on a regular basis. Doing so will help you remain competitive and will reduce the odds of anyone else stealing your customers of your rankings.

Interested in how you can fix a slow WordPress site? Check out this post for some tips!