July 17, 2023Read More
Benefits of Benchmarking for Website Performance
Posted by Scott Harrington, July 28, 2023
Website benchmarking shows you how well your site is performing in comparison to competitor sites. Used wisely, website benchmarking can help you boost your site's online reach, visibility and availability.
However, many website owners and organisations still fail to use benchmarking effectively to boost website performance.
In this article, we'll tell you all you need to know about website benchmarking, what metrics you use to measure it and how to effectively use this valuable principle to boost your website's performance.
Understanding Benchmarking For Website Performance
Website benchmarking refers to looking at key metrics to assess your website’s performance and position in its niche market. The benchmarking process uses the performance data of your competitors and key players in your industry, identifying the key metrics and then measuring their websites' performance against yours.
Once you know how well your competitors perform, you can highlight their competitive advantages and use this information to set the performance targets you want your site to reach. It also helps you understand what your competitors are doing to attract more customers and helps you create a well-designed marketing strategy.
Key Performance Metrics To Monitor
There are several key performance indicators (KPIs) or website performance benchmarks you can measure:
1. Page load times and load speed
This metric refers to how long your site's pages take to load and become interactive.
2. Time to title
This refers to the amount of time users have to wait for your page’s title to appear after they have sent a request in their browser. Users are more likely to leave your site if they have to wait long for the title to appear.
3. Time to first byte (TTFB)
TTFB measures the latency of your server and shows how long it takes for the first bit of the personalised information (generated by your website) to reach the visitor's browser. Any delays in this metric indicate an issue with your server.
4. Time to start render (TTSR)
TTSR measures the amount of time it takes for content to display in the visitor's browser after sending a request. This metric tells the website visitor that their request has been received and is being processed and holds the visitor's attention for long enough until the full website content appears.
5. Time to interactive
This metric measures how long it takes for a user to start interacting with your site from the time they sent a request.
6. DNS lookup speed
This metric refers to the time it takes for the DNS provider to translate your domain name into an IP address. If it's slow, it can indicate that there's a large number of third-party resources slowing down the site or it may indicate issues with the provider.
7. Bounce rate
Bounce rates show the percentage of site visitors who left your site after only viewing the landing page and who did not interact with the rest of the site or click on other links.
8. Requests per second (RPS)
RPS indicates the number of requests received by your server every second. An RPS that exceeds a server's capacity slows down the site, negatively impacting speed and useability.
9. Error rate
This metric refers to the number of errors occurring on your site at any given time. It also shows how many of these errors occur in a specific timeframe.
10. Application availability
Your website should always be available because visitors may be deterred from visiting or using your website if the page does not load or shows an error. This metric plays a big role in user satisfaction.
11. Webpage content and size
Performance benchmarking also helps you determine the industry standards for web page size and the content that's used. This helps you improve the end-user experience because you can better plan your content and its size.
12. Third-party analysis
Third-party services could hamper the speed and availability of your webpage. Identify service providers that negatively impact your end-user experience, and work towards optimising third-party tags and content.
Effective Benchmarking Practices
We recommend following these guidelines when performing a benchmark analysis:
1. Compare your website with similar sites
Do your benchmark analysis using pages of websites in a particular industry. Make sure that the types of pages you compare are the same – testing, for example, your product page with another website's category page will give you less useful results.
2. Test your site from different locations and devices
Just like your visitors will access your site from multiple devices (laptops and mobile devices) and multiple locations, so too should you. This will help you determine if any location or device-related issues might deter users from using your site.
3. Benchmark your site against your specific competitors instead of using averages
Using averages can give you skewed results when you compare sites from differing niches and industries. Comparing, for example, your site to a competitor whose pages load a lot slower can give you an inaccurate measurement of your site's speeds. Therefore, compare your site with a range of competitors who operate in the same industry to give you a true reflection of your industry's average.
4. Dig deeper than superficial metrics
Even though load time, for example, can be a good indicator of your site's performance, it is advised that owners delve deeper into their website to better understand how visitors are experiencing their sites. Using our list of KPIs above, you can get more in-depth insights into the website’s performance.
5. Understand what your website does when you aren't using it
Schedule tests at random times of the day to ensure that your website always performs at its best. It is also advised that you schedule these tests from different locations at specific times to ensure that your webpage performs consistently throughout the day.
6. Monitor third-party APIs
Consistently monitor your third-party APIs (used by companies such as Facebook, Google and Twitter) and see how well they work with your webpage as they can impact your visitors' user experience.
Benefits of Benchmarking for Website Performance
Benchmarking for website performance has a lot of benefits that can make websites better and give users a positive experience. Because benchmarking allows you to compare your website's performance against industry standards or competitors, it helps you identify areas where your site may be underperforming or facing bottlenecks. This analysis can uncover issues like slow-loading pages, resource-heavy elements, or server limitations. Once identified, these can be fixed by the website owner of your web development agency.
In addition to helping you fix current issues on the site, benchmarking helps you future-proof your website. With website benchmarking, you can anticipate future needs and plan for scalability, ensuring your site can handle higher traffic volumes without compromising performance.
Finally, benchmarking can help with resource optimisation. Benchmarking can reveal unnecessary resource usage, such as large images or inefficient scripts, enabling you to optimise and streamline your website's code and assets.
Benchmarking tools play an important role in determining the overall speed and usability of your webpage. You may consider using one of these handy tools to test your site's performance:
- Pingdom Speed Test
- Google PageSpeed Insights
- Google Analytics
- Moz Pro
- WordStream Tools
Performance Benchmarking For eCommerce Sites
To increase their number of website visitors and boost sales, eCommerce sites should also measure the following key metrics:
- Bounce rate from email campaigns
- Lead generation channel
- Website visitors
- Acquisition source
- Conversion rate
- Cart abandonment rate
- Products per transaction
Though it might seem complicated, website benchmarking can be an easy task to perform.It helps you narrow down your webpage performance baseline so you know exactly how well your site performs when compared to its main competitors.
Working with your website designer and developer you can use a benchmark analysis to boost your site's performance. Ryde can help you determine which benchmarking tools to use to identify performance vulnerabilities and improve user experience, then our talented web development team can boost your site’s performance. Reach out to us today – we'd love to get in touch.
Photo by Negative Space