There is no way around this; your website has to load in less than a second.
Anything longer than that, and your next customer will be hitting that back button and onto the next search. It’s one of the biggest conversion killers and will harm your business; be warned!
In this article, let’s dive straight into page speed and why it’s critical, how it can heavily impact your conversion rates, your SEO rankings, and ways to speed up your website load times.
What Is Page Speed
Moz defines Page Speed as a measurement of how fast the content on your page loads.
If you’re curious about your page speed load times, Google has this nifty tool for checking your page load times.
It would be best if you were aiming for your website to load within 3 seconds, and anything less will affect the user experience, as SEM Rush highlights below in these statistics:
- The first-second delay resulted in a 4.9% drop in the number of articles a visitor read.
- The three-second delay resulted in a 7.9% drop.
Looking at the above stats, you can see that the longer a page takes to load, the more customers you will lose. It’s as simple as that.
How to boost page speed
Your page loads will quickly depend on several variables; some are quick fixes, and others will need a web developer helping hand to help. Each of these variables will add precious seconds to impatient customers that demand instant web page load times.
Pagely tells us that: converting a .png image to a .jpg and compressing to 85% could potentially reduce the file size by more than half.
If you have a WordPress CMS, you can easily compress all images in the dashboard as you upload each one. Many small business websites will have large image galleries showcasing their work or main photos on the home page banner without consideration for page speed times. These drag load times down to a crawl and do nothing more than annoy, irritate and frustrate customers who want to see these images quickly. To compress images, get your web team ( and they should know this already ) to run your site through WP Smush. You’ll see immediate improvements in page load times without compromising the integrity or clarity of your photos.
Old, outdated, unnecessary plugins will reduce load times for your website, so get rid of these asap. They are sitting there doing nothing and slows your site down. Again, if you have a WordPress CMS, you can delete these in the dashboard with the click of a mouse.
When was the last time you audited your hosting package? Most people haven’t got the slightest idea who’s hosting their website. They pay a small monthly fee and forget about it. I bet you didn’t know that you share your hosting server with hundreds of other sites, and if one of these sites gets infected with a virus, it could harm your site? Plus, this can slow your site down. For maximum warp website speed, consider upgrading your hosting package to a dedicated server. For larger eCommerce sites where there’s lots of traffic, dedicated servers are a no-brainer. There is a bump in the monthly fee, but you’ll quickly notice the difference in page load times.
Update your CMS
Websites backbone is called a content management system, also known as a CMS. If your site has an old CMS, then it’s time to upgrade to a new CMS with clean code and is most likely a lot faster than the one you’re currently using. The best and most popular CMS is WordPress which is what Hopping Mad Designs uses for our clients. At this stage, it might be a good idea to redesign your site. But make sure that during this update, you don’t harm your current SEO rankings.
Related article: 11 Tips to Speed Up Your WordPress Website
Understanding Page Speed
Understanding page speed isn’t about how quick the whole page loads on your desktop or mobile phone. There are different ways you can measure page speed which include:
a) Fully Loaded Page: It’s the most common interpretation of page load speed times, and it’s the time it takes for the full page to load right there in front of you. Does it creep slowly down the page, or does it pop up quickly?
b) First Contentful Paint: This is the time it takes for the user to get a clear idea of the web pages intent. You will most likely see the first 30% of the pages images, content and graphics. For example, suppose you’re downloading a page about business loans and a video and interest rate table. In that case, you could read the interest rate table while waiting for the video to download. An extreme scenario, but most people are prepared to wait a few seconds extra for all the content to download, especially if it’s a trusted brand.
c) Time to First Byte (TTFB): Wikipedia describes TTFD as the duration from the user or client making an HTTP request to the first byte of the page being received by the client’s browser.
I would say that this is a supercritical metric as users want to see some response from the website once they click on the link. If you get the dreaded circle in waiting time, most people are going to exit. Improving TTFD times is the responsibility of the server and your hosting company. If they are unable to fix this and reduce TTFD issues, then it’s time to leave.
How Important Is Page Speed for SEO?
Google wants speed! They have told us this since 2010.
I understand why they have now made page speed a significant part of their ranking algorithm. They want to give users the best possible experience, which includes websites that are fast to load. Why would they show you websites that annoy their users?
Users, especially those on mobiles, want fast, snappy information at their fingertips. They are on the go, looking for products or services and need to make decisions without waiting for pages to load. It’s the way users browse now, and Google recognises this phenomenon.
There is a direct correlation between SEO and page speed; the faster the site, the better the rankings and the slower the site well, you know what happens to them.
According to Search Engine Watch, page speed is not a huge ranking factor but plays a significant role in conversion rates. But it still can give your website the edge it needs to climb up a few spots on page 1, which could be the difference between getting the sale or not. Many other factors determine your SEO ranking, such as link building and content marketing, which should be your primary focus.
In terms of the user experience, slow load times will impact bounce rates. That is, users will bounce off the age they enter the site, never to return. Google measures these bounce rates, and if they detect an unusually high consistent bounce rate, it will impact rankings. There is a cohesive marriage between bounce rates, user experience, and page speed, which can help or hinder your SEO which in turn can affect your sales leads and ultimately revenue.
Speed kills, but when it comes to your website, ‘slow speed kills’. Keep this in mind if you start to see a drop off in sales or inquiries. Page speed is often an afterthought in the web design process, but statistics like every 0.1 seconds that your page speed improves can increase your conversion rates by 8%, is proof enough to see how well your site’s speed is performing and look at ways to improve this. More often than not, these tweaks and adjustments are easy fixes, and you can have your site loading in record time.