Online platforms helped businesses sustain themselves during the pandemic when customers couldn’t shop at physical stores.
Big and small businesses invested money in social media marketing, which helped drive people to their ecommerce stores. But with more people shopping online, companies need to analyze their website performance and create a plan to stand out in the competitive ecommerce market.
Keep reading to learn how to measure your site’s performance, make sense of the data, and how Nexcess can help.
Factors that affect your site health
Your website’s performance depends on several factors. For example, if your website is slow or poorly optimized, customers are more likely to leave without buying anything. That’s why a robust, well-designed, and optimized website is essential.
Here are some factors that affect your site’s performance and health.
1. Search engine optimization (SEO)
One major factor that site performance depends on is search engine optimization (SEO).
For example, say your website contains dead links or links with irrelevant anchor text. That can frustrate users, increasing bounce rate and causing you to lose potential sales.
You should also keep your site’s metadata updated and use relevant keywords to help increase the chance you’ll rank high in search engine results pages (SERPs).
SEO is a long-haul strategy, but you can get started optimizing your site with WordPress SEO performance plugins.
2. Page load time and website speed
John Mueller, senior search analyst at Google, aims for a page load time of less than two or three seconds.
It makes sense. No one — much less a customer — wants to spend a lot of time on a website that takes too long to load.
On top of that, page speed can affect your website’s SEO.
You probably know that regular website maintenance is important. You need to clear your site’s cache often, keep on top of updates, and fix any bugs to keep your site’s performance healthy.
And if you’re using WordPress, you likely have a number of plugins installed. The best way to see how they’re impacting your website’s performance is by using Nexcess Plugin Performance Monitor. It helps you compare plugins, tracks page performance, and tells you which plugins are slowing down your website.
Your choice of web hosting directly impacts your website’s performance.
Shared web hosting is a popular option but is marred with performance issues since website owners have to share server resources.
But you can opt for a hosting package that can accommodate traffic spikes and scale resources when needed. For instance, you could greatly improve your site’s performance by upgrading to a managed WordPress hosting plan.
At the end of the day, make sure your web host ticks all the boxes when it comes to uptime and speed to ensure your site will perform at its best.
Check out this handy guide to learn more about the difference between WordPress hosting and shared web hosting.
Let’s say your site’s visitors are spread across the globe. The time it takes for a user from one location to load a page could be faster than that of someone from another area.
How so? It depends on where your servers are located. Users located closest to your servers will experience improved page speed. As a result, you might witness increased conversions.
Using a content delivery network (CDN) will ensure optimal website performance, regardless of where your users are located.
Now that you know about some of the factors that affect website performance, there are various tools you can use to measure how fast your website is and find areas for improvement.
1. PageSpeed Insights
PageSpeed Insights (PSI) is a free tool developed by Google, meaning you might gain insight into how the search engine judges your website.
PSI measures your site's performance and provides an overall score out of 100 and suggestions on how to improve. This score is calculated by Lighthouse, an open-source tool also from Google.
It’s worth noting that PSI includes both mobile and desktop analyses. Moreover, scoring 100/100 doesn’t guarantee higher rankings on Google.
Pingdom is another great tool to check your page load speed. It allows you to test your site from different locations — for example, the U.S., London, and Tokyo.
When you run a test, the performance summary is the first of seven sections that Pingdom provides. This summary consists of:
- A grade out of 100.
- Page size.
- Load time.
- Number of HTTP requests.
The section after that includes several recommendations on how to cut load time.
Pingdom provides a detailed analysis of your site’s performance, so it’s worth looking into.
GTmetrix is another popular speed test tool. As with PageSpeed Insights and Pingdom, you’ll need to enter your site’s URL to check its performance.
In its assessment, the tool provides the GTmetrix and Google Core Web Vitals grades.
In addition, you can find various tabs like Video, Structure, and Waterfall, each with valuable suggestions on what you can fix.
The Structure tab is one to pay attention to as it provides information on how to optimize your site. For example, its suggestions include “minify CSS” and “enable gzip compression.”
With the Video tab, GTmetrix records a video of how a page loads so you can double down on any issues.
4. Nexcess Plugin Performance Monitor and Sales Performance Monitor
As mentioned earlier, Plugin Performance Monitor from Nexcess tracks your WordPress website’s plugin performance and tells you if any of them are causing your site to slow down.
And if you run an ecommerce website, Nexcess Sales Performance Monitor will help you predict and measure revenue, figure out why sales are down, and monitor trends.
Making sense of the data
By measuring various performance metrics, the tools mentioned above can provide accurate information about your site’s performance. However, you might encounter some unfamiliar terms, especially if you’re a beginner.
Let’s go over some of these terms to help you better understand how to make optimizations.
1. Time to first byte (TTFB)
Time to first byte (TTFB) refers to the time it takes for the first piece of information to reach a user’s browser after a request has been made. A slow TTFB time can negatively impact SEO and cause users to bounce off your website.
Slow TTFB can be down to slow front-processes for front-end requests. Testing a static HTML file will give you a good reflection of the server-level TTFB. In the case of WordPress sites, test using the default readme.html file and then compare that with the TTFB of the front-end of the site.
2. Time to interactive (TTI)
Time to interactive (TTI) is how long it takes before a user can begin interacting with your website, like clicking on links and scrolling. Put differently, your TTI is short if users can interact with above-the-fold content before a page is fully loaded.
The quicker a site visitor can interact with a page, the better. Otherwise, you might lose potential sales.
3. DNS lookup time
The DNS lookup time is the time it takes for your domain name system (DNS) to convert a domain name into an IP address.
Here’s how it works: when you type in a domain name (e.g., nexcess.com), your device requires the IP address of the server belonging to that site so that you can send and receive data.
If your DNS lookup time isn’t up to par, your DNS provider is likely the culprit. We recommend you find a faster service provider to speed up your DNS lookup time.
Ready to improve website performance?
Good site performance goes beyond faster page speeds as it affects everything from user experience to SEO to lead acquisition to sales. So it’s worth investing time and effort into ensuring users have a seamless browsing experience from start to finish.
That being said, optimizing your website’s performance isn’t a one-time thing — you’ll need to continuously measure and monitor your website to ensure everything runs smoothly.
And if you’re looking to upgrade your hosting, why not consider Nexcess managed WordPress hosting?
With our managed WordPress hosting plan, we provide features to optimize for speed, including autoscaling, Object Cache Pro, and a built-in CDN powered by Cloudflare, and we also provide backend administration.
In addition, our Plugin Performance Monitor keeps an eye on your site’s crucial pages daily so you can know if there’s an issue and fix it.
And if you get stuck? Our 24/7 WordPress support will be glad to help.
Contact us today to learn more about how Nexcess can help.