How quickly does your website load for desktop and mobile users? If the answer is more than two or three seconds, you may be losing business as visitors move on to more responsive sites.
When it comes to website speed, time is money. A few extra seconds of page load time could have a major impact on your ability to engage visitors, make sales, and boost your overall conversion rate. Studies have shown that a page load time of four seconds loses 25 percent of the web traffic initially accessing a site. Plus, page load time is a Google ranking factor, so improving your site speed is essential if you want to see your site ranking for more keywords.
It should be no surprise that the longer the delay in page load time, the more traffic a site will lose. A slow website can result in lost sales opportunities, lost revenue, and lost growth potential.
Slow page speed also disrupts the user experience, often impacting buying decisions. Conversely, increasing site speed can mean higher conversion rates, increased revenue, and better brand credibility. Here are some examples of how page speed impacted some well-known, enterprise-level websites:
There are multiple examples from companies of all sizes that experienced positive business results related to increasing site speed. Even for smaller sites, improving load times needs to be a priority in your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.
Website speed figures significantly into the algorithms used to rank sites in search engine results. The faster your site loads – especially with mobile searches – the better your position in the SERPs.
Site load time is part of Google’s search ranking algorithm. And, because of its mobile-first policy, load times on mobile sites now take precedence over desktop systems. Google offers benchmarks to help site owners set the bar for page speed:
The bottom line is that site speed, SEO, and business growth are directly related. If your site gets penalized by Google due to page speed issues, your rankings will drop, and so will your page views. This loss of visibility can translate to lower ad revenue, fewer conversions, fewer sales, and all the other negative consequences that poor search engine performance brings.
Improving your site speed is a key business growth strategy that needs your focus now.
There are a number of online tools to test how fast your website runs. Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool (PSI) is the one most commonly used by site owners.
When you enter a URL into the PageSpeed Insights tool, it returns a report on that page for mobile and desktop devices. It also offers suggestions for ways to improve desktop and mobile page load times.
Key outputs of a PageSpeed Insights report include:
For more information on how to utilize PageSpeed Insights, check out this video tutorial.
There are many options available on the quest for fast site speed. If you wonder where to start, these are some actionable, simple steps you can take to see improvements right away.
If you have a shared hosting plan, consider switching to a dedicated server or cloud hosting. Though shared hosting invariably comes with a lower price tag, it can also affect site speed because resources like memory and bandwidth are shared across a number (and sometimes quite a larger number) of websites. Switching to a dedicated server or cloud hosting as the sole website owner can increase site speed because resources are no longer being tapped by multiple sites. This is especially important for enterprise-level organizations that have a high bandwidth requirement in order to serve a robust amount of content.
If you use a content management system like WordPress, research current themes that are optimized for speed. Such themes are light and flexible, and some are focused only on including elements that support search engine optimization best practices.
HTTP requests occur when a user visits your site. They are sent to your server (on your hosting platform), requesting the files needed to render your site on the user’s screen. The more new requests made in order to get all the files needed for your site, the more time that web page will take to load.
Redirects are code instructions that forward your user from one location on your site to another. Redirects are commonly used for site migrations, website redesigns, or when content pruning, but each redirect adds to how long it takes for a web page to load. It’s best to avoid redirects when you can, but if you do have some, Google advises that you:
Compressing your site files helps reduce HTTP requests. You may see response time decrease by as much as 70 percent. Gzip is a free tool used by web developers to effectively compress site files and improve how quickly a website loads.
Save site images in the smallest possible file size without reducing image quality on the user’s end. Some recommendations for optimizing images include:
A CDN is a network in close geographic proximity to your web server that delivers content. Close proximity decreases transmission time, which can improve the user experience by increasing the speed of desktop and mobile sites.
Each plugin you have on your site shaves time off your page speed. Review your plugins and ditch the ones you don’t use. If better-optimized plugins can replace the ones you want to keep, make the switch.
Do some content pruning by removing outdated content, pages, and files. Additionally, fix or remove broken links to boost how fast your website loads.
This tactic is a benefit for returning visitors. Static page elements are held in cache after the first visit, so page load speed is revved up on subsequent visits.
Like most if not all SEO strategies, this is not a “one and done” task. It’s important to monitor your website speed – especially on mobile devices – on a regular basis. At a minimum, track your desktop and mobile search ranking results, and check your PSI score if you see your site rankings lower on the SERPs.
You can use these steps to make continuous speed improvements:
Rinse and repeat as often as necessary to keep improving your page speed.