Website speed is essential because it makes customers happy and helps websites rank higher in search engines. While that’s the two cents version, it’s the essence of understanding why you need to improve your website performance.
You don’t want to wait around when you’re on the web; nobody does. Page speed is crucial since it also affects conversion rates and brand perception. So when your web pages take too long to load up, everyone drops them in priority. Potential visitors will simply close the tab and go somewhere else.
While there are many areas of the website you can focus on to improve speed, we can categorize them broadly to target four key areas;
Each targeted area will significantly benefit your website traffic if you improve performance.
1. Search Engine Optimization
Many factors will affect where your site appears on Search Engine Results Pages. One of the most critical factors is page load time. How fast or slow page loads are can significantly impact whether a viewer will continue to access your site or move on to another one.
Google’s algorithm has always measured and ranked websites based on dozens of criteria. In 2010, Google added page speed to its list of factors determining Search Engine Results Page (SERP) rankings.
Loading time has become such an important factor that Google created PageSpeed Insights, which allows you to measure how well your website performs in terms of speed and recommends fixes for any issues.
While there’s no way we can gauge the extent of page speed impact on SEO, the fact it is involved is confirmed. What better way of knowing than directly from the horse’s mouth?
Case Study: Google Comments on Site Speed in Web Search Ranking
Google wants a faster web for many reasons. The company understands that slow websites displease visitors. In addition, faster websites can even reduce operational costs. Because of these reasons, Google places great emphasis on website speed when determining your search rankings.
2. User Experience
If you’ve ever sat in front of your computer getting increasingly angrier at a website that crawls, you’ll understand the impact of website speed on the user experience. The average attention span for adults is eight seconds, which is one second shorter than it was in 2000 and four seconds shorter than the attention span of a goldfish.
If your website takes more than two to three seconds to load, you’re losing out on valuable traffic and potential customers. According to web experts Bitcatcha, website speed is your first opportunity to impress visitors. Slow websites will agitate them, negatively impacting their impression of your website or business.
Web pages that fail to load within two seconds are likely to pass on a poor user experience. Unhappy users are also less likely to trust your content or make a purchase on your website.
Case Study: Better Speeds Helped Vodafone Increase Sales by 8%
We already know that faster page speeds are better. However, you can work on many areas that affect speed. We can see this demonstrated in the case of Vodafone. With a 31% improvement in Largest Content Paint (LCP) times, it increased sales by 8%.
Since it’s a large company, Vodafone couldn’t arbitrarily make changes without knowing clear results. Because of that, it ran an A/B test of two versions of a landing page. A focus on LCP resulted in better sales and increased cart-to-visit rates throughout the experiment.
3. Bounce Rate
Bounce rate is a critical indicator of your site’s quality. It’s a percentage (or ratio) that tells you how many people leave your site after viewing only one page versus how many people are clicking through and visiting multiple pages.
For example, if your web page has a bounce rate of 50%, half of the visitors to that web page left without visiting any other pages on your site. While many things can affect bounce rate, you may be surprised that website speed is one major factor.
By decreasing the time your web page takes to load, you can significantly reduce the bounce rate.
Case Study: Google Found Longer Load Times Significantly Increase Bounce Rates
Google is one of the top supporters of a faster web. They originally ran an experiment in 2017 (now updated) that found slower web pages experienced a 123% higher bounce rate. The percentage varies depending on the time taken for the page to load.
The experiment was fascinating since Google ran it on a deep neural network. That enabled the test to mimic human experience with the website, providing a more realistic test result. The search giant reiterated the need to build websites optimized for mobile devices.
4. Conversion Rate
Conversion is the process of turning random website visitors into paying customers. But have you ever stopped to think about how your website speed affects that conversion rate? Well, it’s something you should think about—and perhaps even worry about.
With this said, there is no ideal loading time for websites because the optimal speed depends on the type of site that you have. If you have a content-based website where people come for information, you can afford to have slightly longer loading times than an eCommerce site where people try to make purchases as quickly as possible.
Still, running a few tests should clearly show you some difference in how your website speed affects your conversion rates.
Case Study: Pinterest Boosted Mobile Conversions by 60%
In 2015, Pinterest ran an experiment that improved the performance of its landing page on mobile by 60%. The increase in performance on this platform led to 40% more conversions on mobile devices.
Their optimizations looked at the front end, back end, and network areas. The ultimate goal was to reduce overhead, improve performance via optimized processing, and streamline data flow. The adjustments made were granular, resulting in graduate but tangible metric improvements.
Final Thoughts on Why Website Speed Matters
There’s little doubt that website speed significantly impacts your website visitors. This impact can vary from simply preventing them from finding your website to upsetting them so much they quickly leave. Ultimately, a slow website is highly undesirable.
A mere few seconds can mean the difference between a purchase or a lost sale from a commercial standpoint. You don’t have to improve every area of website speed simultaneously – do it incrementally to see what works best for you.