Most businesses love the idea of having a fast-loading website, but consider it a low priority. There are so many other things to put time, energy and money into – surely site speed is just a cosmetic ‘nice to have’?
As it turns out, site speed is much more important than most people think, and can have a real impact on your bottom line. Let’s have a look at some of the key reasons a fast-loading website makes such a difference, plus some simple things you can do to improve yours.
Why does site speed matter?
- UX, Conversion & Revenue:
In today’s fast-moving world people have very short attention spans. If your site is slow to load, a surprisingly large number of people simply won’t stick around to wait – they’ll just leave. And even if they do stick around, many of them will become too frustrated with the slow experience to actually convert. Recent studies have shown a strong correlation between page-load speed and lead/revenue generation.
- Brand Perception:
In a visitor’s mind, the perception of your brand will be subconsciously associated with the experience of interacting with your website. So if they find your site slow and therefore difficult to use, the subconscious mental image of your business/brand will be one that is out of date and difficult to deal with.
- Mobile Users:
The mass adoption of mobile devices has made site speed even more important. The connection speeds we get on those devices also tend to be slower than those on our desktop devices at home and at work, meaning a slow site is even more of an inconvenience now than it was in the desktop-only years.
- Google Traffic (SEO):
Site speed is one of the factors Google considers when ranking websites. If two sites are otherwise on a par, superior site speed could be the difference that gets you the higher ranking for an important keyword. And that’s not all – because fast sites create a great user experience, they attract more inbound links and social shares, both of which generate traffic AND boost Google rankings.
- Google Ads Costs:
In Google’s own words: “If it takes too long for your website to load when someone clicks on your ad, they're more likely to give up and leave your website. This unwelcome behaviour can signal to Google that your landing page experience is poor, which could negatively impact your Ad Rank.” Ad Rank directly impacts how much you pay per click, so a slow site could be directly costing you money.
So what can I do about it?
There are a number of technical elements that can affect the speed of your website, so if your site gets a ton of traffic each month or if it drives the majority of your revenue, it may be beneficial to conduct a more in-depth review. However, for smaller businesses looking for some quick wins, here are a couple of free tools we recommend:
This simple online tool from Google will generate a list of high-priority and medium-priority recommendations (for both desktop and mobile) that you can hand to your developer to fix. Tasks are typically administrative type tasks for developers although they can be more complicated.
They can include things like:
- Optimising your images – Using image files at a lower resolution when it doesn’t affect how they look on your website.
- Improving server response time – Website hosts can have a big impact on how quickly your website loads. Improving this may involving simply having a robust chat with your hosting company, or switching hosts if it’s really bad.
- Enabling compression – Some elements on a website can be compressed so it takes less time to download, without affecting how it works or looks.
- Leverage browser caching – Asking web browsers to store certain things on the computer so they don’t have to be re-downloaded the next time the person visits your site.
This is another free online tool that will display the load time of any webpage together with a full ‘waterfall’ of the different page elements so you can identify bottlenecks.
This tool is probably best used by your developer as it’s not as user friendly as PageSpeed Insights above. However, because it gives a more detailed breakdown of how long each of your page elements takes to load, it can often help your developer to work on what’s causing your website to slow down the most.
If you’d like some further guidance on this, or need help with any aspect of your online marketing, do get in touch for a consultation. We’d love to hear from you and are happy to help!