Page Speed vs Site Speed

What is the difference between page speed and site speed? How do they overlap? How do they impact one another?

Taryn Hardes
Technology contributor
April 10, 2022

The terminology used around site speed is commonly misunderstood, and we spend a lot of time clarifying the definitions in our conversations with our clients, and curious brands.

Running a faster website includes improving page speed, of course, but that’s not the whole picture.


Exploring Page Speed

To start, a definition of page speed.

PAGE SPEED: How quickly a page on your website loads.

Great. You clicked on a link, you watched the page populate, and that experience can be summarized as the page speed.

But there’s a lot happening under the hood in those couple of seconds.

Multiple facets of that loading experience make up page speed:


Unpacking Site Speed

Now, let’s say you wanted to know the speed of your website.

You go to Google and type in “How fast is my website?” and pick a free tool. When you are asked to scan your website, you’ll type in your site URL, and a bot will load the page and calculate speed metrics. Usually, you’ll be given a set of metrics (along with Core Web Vitals, for example) and a score.

A tool like the Lighthouse Scoring Calculator shows the weighting of the different metrics and the resulting impact on your score.

The resulting score is often misconstrued as the speed of your whole website, or the performance of your entire domain.

In reality, this score represents the page speed score for your homepage alone, which is one of many pages on your website.

You haven’t opened the book, you’re judging it by its cover.

Just because your homepage is fast doesn't mean your site is fast. And just because your homepage is slow, doesn't mean your site is slow.

Page speed is to site speed as webpage is to website.

Web Performance, Google Analytics & SEO

When it comes to SEO, Google Analytics is often where digital marketers turn to identify site speed. There’s even a tab called Site Speed under Behavior!

Unfortunately, Google Analytics is a little outdated in the approach to  site speed. When you navigate to the “Site Speed” report, these metrics have absolutely no correlation to the user experience, perceived performance of your visitors, or Core Web Vitals (which influence your Google search rank).

While Google has now released Core Web Vitals products through Google Search Console to support search engine rank efforts, there’s no integration between the “site speed” data in Analytics and the Core Web Vitals data in Search Console.

Thanks Google.

Site Speed is Complex

SITE SPEED: The speed of the whole website, considering traffic distribution.

Think of site speed as the cumulative performance of your website as a whole. Some pages will contribute greatly, and others less so. Site speed is the combination of traffic distribution and performance. It’s not the page speeds alone, it’s indicated by the behaviour on each of those pages. This is how Google judges the speed of your domain.

Taking Control of your Site Speed

For the large-scale SAAS and ecommerce clients SpeedSense supports, sites can be made up of tens of thousands of URLs. It’s a massive amount of data, and there are countless ways to analyze it. The scope of your site speed is huge.

That’s where we step in for our clients. Our Site Speed Audit scans thousands of URLs, analyzes both real and synthetic performance data, and prioritizes the biggest opportunities to improve a site’s overall speed and performance—better preparing brands to convert visitors to customers and increase revenue. Contact us today to learn more.

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