Our web application keeps track of the performance of 35,000 websites. We have thousands of clients online.

When we consult with customers, many of them ask us to help achieve a certain website speed.

The problem with exact metrics is that reaching them doesn't guarantee success.

You need to find the relevant benchmarks first.

People who are 6.4 feet high are generally considered to be tall. For children in kindergarten, they must seem like a giant. But this doesn't mean that they are taller than most players in a basketball team.

Your website's speed value is also meaningless without a comparison. You won't know how fast or slow your website is until you compare it with your rivals' sites.

(Well, except if your web pages download to mobile devices in 25 seconds. In this case, believe us, it is slow :))

How to compare site speed metrics?

First of all, besides your home page, you should also measure the speed of your most important subpages as these values could differ.

Once you're finished with your site's measurements, you should start evaluating your competitors right away.

Some of them, you are probably well aware of, but there could be others whom you don't know yet.

In order to find every possible competitor site, go through the first 10 results in Google for each of your important keywords. This will give you a comprehensive list.

With the list in hand, you can start comparing domain values. Next to the speed of the home pages also compare the values of the most important and highest ranking subpages to each other.

This will show you exactly what you're up against.

How to reach an ideal speed?

You don't need to create the fastest site in the world. You just need a faster site than what your competitors have.

Why is this crucial?

Speed is one of the most important ranking factors for search engines.

Google and similar services try to recommend sites to their users that provide a good experience. If your site is slow and can't serve their web crawlers with an appropriate speed they assume that visiting it will be a bad experience for the visitors as well.

Which is in fact true. Your visitors won’t wait for long for your files to download.

If your content doesn’t appear in their browser in a few seconds they will look for a solution or answers elsewhere.

If you'd like to avoid this and stay ahead of your competitors you'll need to keep track of your speed metrics every day.

There are several applications that allow you to monitor the download speed of your most important pages. With WebyMon, for example, you can follow a large number of pages and compare their speed to the similar values of your competitors.

If our reports or reports from other applications tell you that you are lagging behind the competition when it comes to speed, it's very likely that you're going to have to make changes in two areas.

You will need to optimize your server's performance and the source code of your website.

In this post, you can find a detailed description, on what factors could slow down a site. And we've also collected several tips on how to get started if you'd like to increase your download speed.

We plan to publish a number of similar posts in the future, so if you've found our tips helpful don't forget to subscribe to our updates below.