Can the speed of your website really have that much impact?
As a website owner, the impact of slow loading times should not be underestimated. Each year that goes by the average webpage increases in volume and size but the loading time tends to get shorter, due to the browsers ability to render it quicker. That being said, it all depends on the industry and location.
According to research provided by KISSmetrics 47% of users expect a page to load in 2 seconds or less and 40% of users will abandon a page all together if it takes longer than 3…and you ask why speed matters? Below are the average load times to get your head around and aim for: produced by Machmetrics
Not only does a users inability to be patient affect your bounce off but can also drastically affect your conversion rates too, as amazon had found out. A popular article a few years back showed that amazon estimated that every extra second it takes for a page to load, cost the company $1.6 billion in sales each year, now of course, that wont be the case for most small business’s but none the less, this worked out to 7% and no-one wants to lose 7% of leads do they?
Putting all the facts and figures aside, its no secret that Google now uses page loading time as a ranking factor. Despite this fact, a lot of small business don’t have any plans to make an improvement, which is generally because they don’t put SEO into practice or even outsource.
The bottom line is if people want information and your site takes to long to load, they will back off and find it somewhere else.
So how do we fix this?
1. Use Compression
2. Decrease Redirects
If your page redirects to another, and then another before your site actually loads, each one of these will increase the loading time. Redirects need to be removed if possible or at the least; reduced.
3. Remove Unnecessary Add-ons
This one can actually be quite big, removing add-ons and plugins that you don’t actually need will help tremendously. Its also not just about the amount of plugins you have, but the quality too. A study I read showed a website owner with a little research came to the conclusion that 86% of their website speed was down to plugins. It’s important to avoid plugins with large scripts and various styles, these perform a lot of requests and generally add extra queries to a page that frankly doesn’t need them.
The whole point of a plugin is to help or enhance capabilities of your website, but don’t let that throw you off form the points I’ve just discussed. If you’re worried about this particular issue there are plugins out there to detect your bottlenecks.
4. Un-optimized Images
As mentioned above an un-optimized image is a no go. Compressing an image can usually save you a minimum of 5-10% file size, and if you love a few pictures on your website you will sure as heck notice the difference. There are many software’s that can do this for you, or even websites with a few simply clicks, personally i find Photoshop the easiest. A CSS sprite is also a very useful trick if you tend to use the same image multiple times on your pages; such as social icons for example. Creating a sprite combines your images into one large file so it will load all at once, opposed to multiple images one after the other.
5. Cache In
There are many plugins out there that will cache the latest version of your page and display it to users so that the browser isn’t forced to generate the page every single time. If your website doesn’t tend to change very often i would recommend setting your cache for longer periods, such as maybe a year.
All this being said, most people are aware that mobile is building up pace. It’s been on an increase for a while now but it certainly doesn’t seem to be slowing down as its becoming increasingly more popular. Just remember you need to optimize for this too, and if your page struggles to load on a desktop, its going to have an even harder time on mobile.
In conclusion, even though i brought to light that the majority of small business’s tend to ignore such a colossal factor, it’s not something that’s entirely essential, granted its not something you can afford to miss either if your going for that top spot, its just a smart thing to do. Make sure you’re better than average.
Google also has it’s own insights for site owners to take a look at it.