As a business owner, your prime focus is always on doing everything you can in order to get the best and most effective results for your business. One element of this is, every time they land at your website. A website with engaging appearance, smooth navigation and great functionalities will perform better than the one that does not have these essential elements.
However, in the pursuit to push the websites to do more and have more functionality, you can’t afford to overlook the importance of website design and load speed.
Remember “The first impression is the last impression” so, make your first impression count by maximising what you can do with the fastest loading time.
In this mobile-friendly world, website speed is more important than ever. Whether it’s a small delay or completely unresponsive website, the speed may affect various factors of your web presence ranging from impact on SEO rankings to paid ads on Google and its quality score.
Just imagine how bad of an impact it will make on your business if your visitors jump to your competitors website even before your website loads? This will have disastrous impacts on your sales.
Recently, Google announced that it experienced a 20% drop in traffic due to an extra .5 seconds in load time. That’s how important the power of website page loading speed is, as visitors only wait for 4 seconds for the web page to load.
What is Website Page Speed?
The time taken by a website page to display products, services or other information to visitors is the website page speed. A “stopwatch” counts the time taken from the user’s request (clicking on your site) to the entire content being displayed on a requesting browser. Page load time may be determined by various factors such as website’s server, page file size, or image size.
There are many tools available to monitor the website page load time like GTMetrix and Google Analytics that offer free ‘Page Speed Check’ tools to check the Site Speed with detailed Behavior Reports.
Below is a typical request-response cycle to understand how page load time works:
- User clicks a hyperlink, enters a URL or submits a form.
- Web browser makes a request to the server.
- Web server works on request and sends the response back to browser
- Browser receives the requested page
- The requested page content becomes available on browser
How Slow Is Actually Slow?
In a 2012 study by Google, it was revealed that internet users were willing to wait up to 5 seconds for a website to load completely. As we are now living in a world where everything is superfast, thanks to the innovations in communication and 5G, anything slower than the blink of an eye – 400 milliseconds – is too slow for internet users.
Google engineers have also discovered that page load time more than 0.4 seconds is long enough to cause users to search less. Following the growing demand for faster website pages, Google in 2018 announced it a crucial factor in establishing mobile rankings.
1 in 4 visitors are likely to abandon your website and move to another option if it takes more than 4 seconds to load. Over 46 percent of visitors claim to have no plans for visiting poorly performing websites. This means you have only 4 seconds to make the first (effective) impression before your visitors decide to leave.
What Impacts Website Page Speed?
The reason that brands like Amazon are doing so well is they understand the importance of website design and page load times, which is why you can see the products loading in a flash on your screen. However, not all website owners understand this and will make these same mistakes when it comes to their marketing again and again.
Website pages can get weighed down by a lot of unnecessary images, features and functionalities, which may be useless to the users. Additionally, not all developers put website page speed on the top of their mind while creating websites, instead prioritising their own profitability and ability to build websites quickly. Other factors that affect website page load time include:
File Types & Sizes
It’s simple terms, the larger your file sizes are, the large your website pages will be, which results in a delay for your site visitors. In most cases, images average 40 percent to 60 percent of the overall website weight. When using the website files, it’s important to take time to optimise your files as much as possible. Optimising images, minifying html and minifying css is a great way to keep your files as small as possible.
Many PlugIns may be very helpful in adding functionality to your website without much customisation, especially if you are handling it on your own. However, using too many plugins or using plugins that are not optimised may result in a dramatic increase in page load time. Additionally, keeping your plugins updated is also essential to keep your website running more efficiently and to prevent it from slowing down. Updated plugins also have additional benefits for security issues.
Your website theme not just defines the structure and visibility of your website, but it also impacts the overall User Experience and website loading time. The website themes with complex codes and non-minified files are heavier than those which are customised for faster loading. Most pre-made website themes are usually heavier than the custom made ones. For that reason alone it is often considered better to have a bespoke theme.
When you purchase hosting, you typically see different types of plans with different levels of limitations over the amount of bandwidth. The bandwidth denotes the amount of data that can be transferred over a certain period of time. If you have a website with high traffic volume but have a server plan with limited bandwidth, there will be risk for the website to get slowed down and completely shut down as well.
Server / Hosting
Your website hosting company and the server may have a great impact on the speed at which your website pages load. Shared hosting means the server and its resources are distributed among various domains and companies, resulting in slow website performance. While shared hosting may be the most economical choice, it’s certainly not the best option when you have high amount of traffic. For the websites with high traffic, a private server is best to get optimal speeds for your website.
Content Management System Versions
Content Management Systems (CMS) regularly launch the latest versions after every few weeks, sometimes even faster, to ensure meeting with latest search engine algorithms and to ensure security of the website data. Using outdated CMS may be another reason for increased website page load time. With our website maintenance packages you can ensure that your website is updated as often as needed.
Data buffering in the browser
The web browsers are smart enough these days to help increase the website page loading speed. Modern browsers use cache to save the website data on the devices, which may be reused if it has access to the same website again. This results in displaying the website page content faster than the previous time. If you have an existing website make sure you are caching content like images and text which will not change often.
Impacts of Page Load Time
Websites that load quickly are more likely to attract more visitors and have better conversion rates. For more businesses, the overall revenue depends on having pages that load faster.
- Google: Found that the increase of half-second in page load time may cause a 20% drop in traffic and revenue.
- Financial Times: Revealed that a 1-second delay in page load time led to a 4.9% drop in readers.
- GQ Magazine: Increased unique visitors 6 million to 11 million after reducing page load time from 7 seconds to 1.5 seconds.
Why is website speed important?
Google has considered page speed as a crucial ranking factor since 2010. In the modern time, when internet users are the least the patient about waiting for the website pages to load, there are no reasons to not consider implementing these methods to increase website loading time. Because if you don’t focus on website speed, your competitors will, and may rank better on search results.
Improved Search Rankings
This the most crucial reason why it is so important to invest in website page load time. Recently on July 2018, Google rolled out a Mobile-First index, meaning now is the time to optimise websites for mobile devices so they load even faster on smaller screens. With that being said, there is a direct impact of website’s loading time on its websites’ SEO rankings and organic traffic.
The reason for using website speed as an essential factor for SEO ranking is because it is a sign of quality user experience. If the website loads faster, the users are more likely to spend more time and they also convert better. For those reasons, Google loves websites with faster load time.
And it’s not just Google – according to research about consumer behaviour, website loading speed has a huge impact on if people get in touch with your business.
- 20% of users abandon their cart items if transactions take longer than 4 seconds.
- 47% of internet users expect a site to load in less than 2 seconds.
Slow-loading websites cause frustration among the website users, which means poor user experience. This results in visitors going to other websites and converting with competitors, as a result your business will lose out on an enquiry.
Loading Times Influence Crawling
Google schedules website crawling several times a week. Every time the crawling is completed, Google will set “limits” in terms of pages it can crawl per day. The limit is called “Crawl Budget,” which is hugely affected by the website’s page loading speed. The search engine crawling bots spend more time on the websites that are popular, SEO friendly and frequently updated.
Search engines follow the simple process:
- Website pages crawling
- Saving the quality ones in a database
- Display web pages when searched on search engines
This is how search engine crawling functions, but if any website has points that prevent the crawling process, it will result in a huge impact on its ranking.
Improved Paid Search Ranking
The price for keyword bidding depends upon the quality score, which as a result means if your website loads faster, you will pay the best rate for your preferred keywords. Quality score in simple terms means your website’s relevancy to search engines. The slow websites or landing pages will appear to Google and other search engines as a poor user experience, which results in lower quality score.
Your website’s quality score also determines your average position on the search engine result page (SERP). The websites with low-quality score find it hard to show up in the top two positions on the search results. If you have a low enough quality score, your paid ads won’t show up at all. This means the traffic and conversion on your website will be lower, which of course you’d not want when trying to drive sales or leads. With faster website load time, you can have a better quality score and you’ll pay less for the keywords, and rank higher.
Better Social Ads Visibility
Similar to Google’s policy of favouring faster loading websites on top, Facebook also follows the same policy when it comes to paid ads. It’s because Facebook also puts the User Experience on the top of priorities. Following its strategy, Facebook in 2017 announced latest algorithm changes that prioritised user experience.
Although there are many other factors that come into play when distributing the ranking to Facebook Ads, website load time stands on the top. That being said, the faster your website loading time, the higher priority it will have on newsfeeds.
Enhanced User Experience (UX)
Ever wondered why Google cares so much about website design and loading speed? It’s because Google knows users like fast, convenient websites. Internet users are likely to visit faster websites than those which take time loading. Website load time leads to good UX and the best UX results in higher conversion rate.
When we visit a website, we all appreciate web pages that load faster. However, if we face loading time issues, we visit other websites. An interesting thing here is that search engine crawlers also the same way, which means they scan more websites with faster pages and avoid the slow ones.
So yes, website loading time has an impact on improved search engine ranking, but it also has a great impact on improving the user-experience and the crawling process.
How page load speed impacts UX?
- 52% of users claim that website speed is an important factor in their website loyalty.
- Google has employed page speed in its algorithm as this has strong impact on User Experience.
- Over half of the internet users expect the pages to load within a maximum of 2 seconds.
- Every one-second delay in load time results in about 7% less conversions.
- Over 75% users claim to not return a website which takes more than 4 seconds.
- According to Google, slowing down the search results by 100 to 400 miliseconds caused a drastic impact on the number of searches per user.
So, faster website loading speed means better User Experience and a higher likelihood that people will get in touch with your business.
Happier Customers & Higher Sales
We all know that it is frustrating for the web pages to load. Gone are the days of Symbian OS when people were patient enough to wait 15 – 20 seconds. In 2019, even a one-second delay in website loading can result in reduce customer satisfaction by 16%, which has a direct impact on sales, customer retention and traffic.
It all boils down to this: if you want more and happier customers, improve your website loading time!
How to check website speed?
For businesses, it is important to keep checking your website loading speed from time to time, especially if you are continuously uploading information or changing functionality. There are many free tools available to analyse website loading speed. Here are a few which we recommend trying out:
- Google Page Speed Insights
- Webpage Test
- Load Impact
- Page Scoring
- Internet Marketing Ninjas
- Show Slow
- Dotcom Monitor
- Google Analytics
Let’s learn how to speed things up!
Since page load time is the prime factor behind deciding the SEO ranking, User Experience, etc., reducing page load time should be the prime focus of any business.
Remember, you may lose 45% of visitors if your web pages take more than 4 seconds to load.
So how can you actually speed up the website loading time? Let’s start off with some of the things that can help to make a huge impact.
Use a CDN – Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to host your files is one of the best ways to ensure faster loading time as this helps save over 60% bandwidth. CDN will host your files across different networks so the files are downloaded from the nearest server. This reduces the load on any single server.
Use a caching plugin – For WordPress websites, caching plugins are the quickest way to cut your page loading speed. There are many good plugins available like WP Total Cache or WP Super Cache. For the websites using WP Engine, it’s not mandatory as they already have caching built-in.
Clean up your database – Many website owners make the same mistake of not regularly looking at their databases, which have saved drafts, inactivated or outdated plugins, etc. If you’re not experienced in web design, using WP Optimise is a good plugin to use to routinely delete all of the unwanted files.
Apply AJAX – This helps your mobile site fetch data essentially without requiring the page to be refreshed. With Ajax, your mobile website can run quickly and fill in updated content even when the user is browsing through the web page.
Optimise Images & Code – It is very important to optimise and minify the images and code being used on a website design to ensure quick loading time. Images with high resolution are very heavy and may absorb more bandwidth, which results in longer page loading time. The images should be no more than 100kb to achieve the ideal page load time.
Reduce Redirects – Every time the visitors are redirected to another page for additional information, they have to spend additional on waiting for the HTTP request-response cycle to complete. Try to provide as much as details possible on the single page, of course only the relevant information. The redirections shall be used only when it is required.
A slow-loading website not just affects the overall ranking of your website on the search engines, but it also has a huge impact on the User Experience. Websites taking long time to load can cause prospective customers to lose interest and jump to a competitor or to the search results, which can result in a lost sale.
Ensuring that the website is quick and loads faster on desktop and mobile devices is essential for helping potential customers to keep coming back for more and interact with your company’s website.
If you’re not sure whether the page load time of your website is ideal or not, make sure to conduct a quick “site load time test” using the free tools mentioned in this article. If the website page load time is more than 5 or 6 seconds, it’s a sign that your website needs immediate attention.
At RACER Marketing we can help you to increase your website load time and help provide a good experience to your customers.