Everyone can recall an experience where a page simply won’t load or it takes several seconds to load. The problem is….. those few seconds more often than not means you have lost that potential lead, because statistics show that those few seconds mean that people click the X and go to a different search result.
When people typically click away from your site because it takes a bit too long to load, it builds a picture for Google that says people don’t like your site. If this happens, it can be hugely damaging to your rank on Google if this is the reaction people have to the pages on your site. It means that this reaction will set a ranking trend where your rank on Google will start to drop. Google do NOT want to give their customers (people that search on Google) a bad experience, so they demote you!
According to Google, an optimal site load time is 2.5 seconds or less. This means, if it takes longer than 2.5 seconds, people are going to start to click the X on your page that is loading, and you will miss out on the leads and also the rank on Google as you start to drop.
In practice, the optimal time of 2.5 seconds is a maximum. Less time is better and far preferable. Statistics show that a large percentage of people quit if the page takes longer than three seconds to load.
If you’re picking up what we’re saying here, you will see how crucial your page speed is to getting business and keeping visitors on your website.
How Much Does a Single Second Cost?
As goes the old adage, time is money. Never before has it been so true as it is in our “on demand”, digital age. While people previously thought of the adage in terms of hours or even minutes, it’s now down to milliseconds!
Did you know, that just 1 single second can put a huge cut in your profit margin.
Depending on the source, your conversion rate drops anywhere from 2.11% to 7%. That means if you typically get $30,000 in business in one month, just 1 second extra load speed on your page would drop that income by $2,100. That may or may not seem like a big deal, but, if you let that build up over an entire year, that’s a cool $25k+ ($25,200 to be exact).
The bigger you expect your profits to be, the more money even a single second delay takes away from your business.
Why Else is Page Speed Important?
While that cut in your overall profit should be more than enough to convince you that your page speed is critical, there are more reasons that you should pay close attention to it.
Not every business makes the majority of its profit from selling its own products (although if yours does, these are still valid reasons you should care about your load speed).
Here are some other reasons you need to mind your page speed:
Yes, the dreaded visitor ‘bounce’ is one of the biggest reasons to speed up your page. Google may give you 2.5 seconds before it considers your site ‘slow,’ but many visitors aren’t nearly as forgiving.
If you’re not sure what we mean by bounce, it’s basically when a visitor clicks the link to your site and leaves quickly thereafter. If your site is slow, that means they may bounce before even seeing your landing page.
If your page loads in 3 seconds or less, your bounce rate is likely less than 10%. However, get to 4 seconds, and you’re looking at a 24% bounce rate. Even worse, once you reach 5 seconds, you’re looking at a bounce rate of around 38%.
In short: If you want visitors on your site, you need to reduce your page load speed as much as possible.
Having your site show up near the top of search results is pure gold. It’s free advertising and practically guarantees that you’re getting the majority of clicks from people searching for your keywords.
These days, search engines like Google don’t just factor keywords into their algorithms. That’s why more than ever, enhancing the user experience wins over the age-old ‘keyword stuffing’ technique that everyone seems to be doing. Of course, a big part of how computers interpret the user experience is based on how long people stay on your website, and how many pages on your site they click through.
This also affects your SEO rating, and ultimately, how many people see your website as they crawl through search results.
In short: Keep it speedy to keep visitors happy (and achieve or maintain a higher search ranking).
How to Increase Page Speed?
Now that you know how important your page speed is, you’re ready to fix the problem. And if you’re ready to speed up your site, you’ll be getting a head start on your competition. In fact, data from a CTA conference shows that the vast majority (up to 85%) of websites aren’t loading fast enough- meaning that they’re not meeting Google’s relatively forgiving standard for page load time.
There are a lot of ways to speed up your website to increase your leads, to make more sales and to grow your business. If you’re not sure where to start, then you’re in luck. This list is exactly where you should begin to increase page speed:
Compress images and graphics
We all know that images and graphics can take up a fair share of space in the overall weight of the page. And all that space (weight) they take up adds to your overall page size. The bigger (heavier) your page is, the longer it will take to load. You might only have a few important pages, but if they’re stuffed with heavy images, your page is NOT going to perform at all well.
According to Mach Metrics, the average web page is over 2MB, which is double the recommended website size of 500KB. At least a quarter of websites are over 4MB, which results in a drastically delayed load time.
The good news is that while images take up a large amount of space, you can keep your visual interest, and free up some space. What’s the solution? Compress your images! As it turns out, around 25% of websites can free up about 250KB per page simply by compressing images.
If your site is slowing down, and you might be over that 500KB sweet spot, compress your images for an instant speed boost.
Let someone else host your videos
Videos are, undeniably, one of the best ways to get visitor interest and showcase your business, brand, or products. However, do you really want to use up ⅕ of your site’s recommended size just to host a video on your own website?
Of course not!
Luckily, these days there’s no reason to host videos on your own website. You can let another platform do that for you. Whether it’s Vimeo, YouTube, or any other video hosting platform, you need to create an account and upload your videos there.
Once you’ve uploaded your videos to your chosen platform, you can simply select ‘Create Link’ and insert the link in your page, right where you want the video to display. Anyone looking at your site can see the video, and even play it without leaving the page- all without costing your website valuable kilobytes.
Bonus: Engaging, helpful videos can help you create a following for your business on video platforms, and thus help you draw even more customers to your website.
Don’t overdo the plugins
Plugins are a great tool, especially if you create your website using WordPress, and don’t want to mess with a lot of code. They can help you do everything from creating user experience surveys to creating a seamless checkout and payment to following up with unfinished purchases and much more.
However, if you’re having trouble with page speed, it might be time to consider the plugins you’re using. Even websites with only a select few plugins can experience slower page speeds because of a specific plugin.
Either run a speed test and disable plugins one at a time to see the impact or use a special tool to evaluate plugins and any issues they may be causing (including of course, load time).
Pay attention to mobile visitors
It’s no secret that Google has really flipped the switch on how it views mobile searches vs. PC searches. Now, Google really prioritizes mobile searches (especially since they introduced the Mobile 1st Algorithm update), with desktop searches taking a backseat. Now, Google ONLY assess how the page loads on mobile to determine your future rank for that page.
A dynamic website format can help you ensure that both desktop and mobile visitors get an experience optimized for them. If you’re not sure how your site performs in this way, Google has a handy tool for that called the “Test My Site” tool.
The “Test My Site” tool from Google allows you to discover how mobile friendly your site is and if it is “Mobile 1st Compliant”.
It also enables you to see how your page / site stacks up against that of your competitors, and even how your page’s slow loading times can affect how many visitors actually stay on your page.
If you need a reality check on the impact of your page speed, this is exactly where you’ll get it.
Check your redirects
Too many redirects will definitely impact your overall site health, as well as your page speed. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to worry about redirects, and all our content would be perfectly planned and executed from the very beginning.
Unfortunately, on occasion, redirects are a necessary process to ensure that everything works the way we want it to. For example, if you move a page or recreate content, or rebrand your website, it can be easier to have a redirect rather than restructuring every piece of related content on your website.
Search for “301” redirects that show up for your website. Remember, not all of them are bad, and some serve an important purpose. However, if there’s a long chain of them, you need to restructure your site and eliminate the chain. Redirects can create a long chain of HTTP requests, and ultimately slow down your website.
Make your cache work for you
When your computer slows down, what is one of the first things you do? Clear your cache, right? Well, that same caching mechanism that you only think about once or twice a year is the very same thing that can help you speed up your site.
When people first visit your website, they won’t have anything cached from your site. So don’t neglect the importance of the initial visit (and the page speed when they first visit). However, as you add content to your site, it takes up more space, which will also take up more speed. Help returning visitors get an optimal experience by setting your cache expiration for at least 12 months.
This is where you should really consider CLV, or Customer Lifetime Value. The idea behind this is, people will put up with a slow loading page if they really need your product (i.e. there are no valid substitutes). In fact, 81% of business owners rate evaluating CLV as one of the top factors in being able to grow their business, and their sales. Creating a long-lasting cache (as long as you’re not in the midst of making major site changes) helps keep your devoted customer base happy.
Check in on TTFB
What is TTFB? “Time To First Byte”. Page speed isn’t only about how fast the entire page loads, but also how long it takes the loading to begin. Ideally, your TTFB should be 200 milliseconds, or even better, less.
This isn’t something you can change from the dashboard on WordPress. Rather, it’s a process that ultimately comes down to the server hosting your website. For instance, if someone searches “pet stores near me,” in Google and they click your site’s link, they first go through the DNS lookup. Then, the server hosting your website needs to process the request at (hopefully) lightning speed.
After the server processes the request, the customer searching for ‘pet stores near me,’ gets their response, AKA gets directed to your page.
If you’re using WordPress, you likely have a dynamic site, which can slow down response time. However, good cache settings, reduced number of plugins and optimized images (as we discussed in the above tips), can help mitigate the load time.
The next way to minimize TTFB is checking into your DNS lookup time. Essentially, when someone looks for your website, a network goes to the server hosting your site, which then directs them to your specific site.
This can take a few steps, or several, and the more steps involved, the longer it takes to load.
You can run an audit on your DNS speed and performance. If it’s below average, it may be time to switch your hosting provider.
If it is slow, it could be that your hosting is shared hosting, and you should look to upgrade to a faster host such as VPS hosting or a Dedicated server (if you have a particularly large site for example)
Don’t Assume Your Page Offers Good “User Experience” (Test It Yourself!)
When it comes down to it, high performing websites are pretty much all about providing a great experience for their visitors. The UX (or, user experience) portion of online business is one of your greatest assets when you can rise above the competition.
You probably wouldn’t return to a restaurant if your waiter took an hour just to bring you a drink. Likewise, you (and anyone else online) won’t readily return to a website that takes even a few seconds to load.
You can run all the audits you want, but there’s one that can give you a clear green or red light from the get-go: A Speed Test. There are plenty of tests and websites to run a test for you. You can use Google’s Page Speed Insights tool or the Pingdom speed tool, or GTMetrix.
The image above shows the results of a website that we optimized and is displayed using the Google Page Speed Insights tool. We optimized it from a score of 30% to 100% on mobile devices.
The point is, you should see your page (and its speed) just like your visitors do and make corrections to everything that bothers you (or that would bother you if you were visiting any website besides your own).
At the end of the day, minimizing your bounce rate means higher conversions, and as a result, more leads and a greater profit margin.
Speed Up Your Page, Get More Business
You can go down a rabbit hole with all the different ways to speed up your page. The good news is, in most cases, you don’t really need to go that deep. A lot of site speed issues are fixed relatively easily, even if you don’t have a lot of technical expertise.
Start by checking out your site speed, and if it’s not at five seconds (and that’s being generous) or less, you need to improve. Then, go through our tips and start speeding up your site bit by bit.
Remember, even if you have the patience of a saint (and most people browsing online don’t), if they’re visiting your page, they want to see results ASAP, lest they turn to your competitor with a faster website.
Let’s not forget that 70% of customers report page speed has an impact on their choice to buy products. That’s a large portion of the market. And that’s not even mentioning the 7% drop in conversions you can experience with each additional 1 second of load time.
There’s another bright side to this – only 15% of websites are operating at less than 5 second load time. That means that with a little clean up, your page can join that club taking over the majority of those coveted online sales and conversions.
However, and this is huge, businesses are waking up to the importance of speed and are taking action. If you don’t take action NOW, you could lose rank in Google and you will start to lose more and more business.
The way page load speed affects your business is only going to increase as the months progress (yes, I am talking months, not even years). If it takes you years to do this, it may be too late for you.
Leading the pack of other online businesses doesn’t have to be hard. All you need to do is offer a great user experience, optimize your website, and make speed a real priority.