The Importance of Page Speed
Even the best website won’t help your business if no one reads it. And if it takes too long to load, it might just end up like that. Page load speed is one of the most important, yet overlooked, part of developing your online presence.
That faster is better should be clear. After all, increasingly mobile audiences don’t have the time to wait around until your website finally loads. But just what happens when you don’t prioritize speed during your development and regular maintenance? And how can you make sure that you build a better user experience that keeps load speed in mind?
Three factors play into the answer for the first question. Once you understand the importance of website page speed, a plan to improve your load time is your natural next step. Dive into the subject with us, and emerge ready to take the steps you need to optimize your user experience.
3 Reasons why Page Speed Matters to Your Business
1) Improve Your User Experience
The first reason might also be the most obvious. The longer your pages take to load, the more frustrated your audience will get. On both mobile devices and desktop computers, they have better things to do than waiting for the content they’re looking for. If they cannot get what they want quickly, they’ll begin to look for it elsewhere.
User experience (UX) is perhaps the most important consideration in modern web design. If that experience reflects badly on your business, your audience will remember. And here’s the problem: it takes your audience about 50 milliseconds to form an impression about your brand. If that means being stuck on a loading screen, you’re in trouble.
2) Leverage SEO Possibilities
Search engines like Google, which build their models and algorithms based on UX, have picked up on the importance of load speed. That’s why Google has specifically mentioned the fact that the speed with which your website appears plays into its ranking algorithm. the implication is clear: the longer your website takes to load, the more it will get pushed down search engine results.
Secondary effects play into this equation, as well. Slower load speed means Google indexes fewer pages, leading to missed opportunities. Finally, more people click away from the site before it loads, increasing your bounce rate and time on page – two more search ranking factors. If SEO plays any role in your digital marketing efforts, you have to consider page speed as part of the equation.
3) Optimize Your Bottom Line
The jury is in: half your audience will abandon your site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. That doesn’t just have implications for your bounce rate, but can actually hurt your business success. Any lost visitor at the beginning of the funnel will lead to less conversion and revenue opportunities.
Research has found that these lost opportunities can lead to danger in your bottom line. According to some estimates, that means millions in lost sales, or about 7% lost revenue. You cannot convert users who don’t even make it to your page. Add to that disgruntled visitors who might not think highly about your brand as they browse your website, and that lost revenue can become a significant problem for your business.
5 Steps You Can Take to Improve Website Page Speed
Of course, understanding that you need to increase your page speed is only the beginning. With that understanding in place, it’s time to take action steps designed to speed up your website. These 5 steps can get you started.
1) Analyze Your Current Page Speed
The natural first step is making sure that your website actually needs the help. Google’s PageSpeed tool can help in that area, allowing you to get the numbers you need to analyze for both mobile and desktop internet visitors. Use it as a guide to understand where your problems are, and how you can improve them.
2) Minimize Individual HTTP Requests
Yahoo estimates that 80% of your load time depends on the HTTP requests on an individual page. That essentially describes the various page elements, from images to stylesheets. Use a tool like Chrome’s Developer plugin to understand what requests are made on a typical load, and which of them are actually needed. Then, minimize the unnecessary ones for faster website speeds.
3) Optimize Images for Page Sizes
Too many web builders make the mistake of uploading a high-resolution image to a page where the picture only shows up as a thumbnail. That’s a mistake. Browsers request the entire image file, and the larger it is, the longer it takes to load. Instead, resize your images (and videos) to fit the exact space that they’re meant to occupied on your website.
4) Consider Switching Your Host
Finally, it might be time to pull the plug on your host. If all of the above fail to solve your page load problem, the host might be the issue. After all, even the fastest website won’t appear so if the server it sits on can’t get its act together. Making that switch is easier than you might think. You just have to make sure you want to go that route – multiple switches without much thought behind them could lead to further problems down the road.
5) Minimize Plugins and Scripts