Customers today demand faster and faster websites. The attention spans of the general public are dwindling, and your website speed must keep up with the pace of decline in order to attract customers and keep eyes on the page for a longer time. The guideline for website run times is two seconds; every page on your website should load in under this time to ensure you aren’t losing potential clicks and customers are getting frustrated as soon as they view the content on your page.
After the two second mark, customers will begin to question if your site is worth their time and energy. Initial intentions are worthless when it comes to internet speed – if your website isn’t loading, customers won’t hesitate to click off and search for another piece of content that loads in a time which suits their needs. If your website takes longer than five seconds to load, the probability of your customers “bouncing” onto another site doubles. Longer than seven seconds, and the probability soars by nearly three times.
” 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less. ”
Think About Conversion Rates
Research has shown strong correlations between webpage load times and conversion rates. This means if your website is slow, you’ll be losing out on hundreds or thousands of potential customers, who are clicking off your landing page before you even have the chance to make a conversion. On the other hand, if your website is up to snuff and fast enough to put consumers at ease, you should see your conversion rate increase at a rate dependent on any site improvements you’ve made.
This data is collected regularly during SEO audits, so consider contacting a service which can provide your company a trustworthy, efficient audit. This isn’t a loose or weak correlation either; the largest correlation factors in the digital marketing realm in 2017 and 2018 were between page load times and conversion rates. There was also an infamous study conducted by FastCompany which found that a one second page load increase time for Amazon.com could cost them up to $1.6 billion in revenue every year. This is an incredible find and speaks directly to the importance of page load times.
Quick Websites Lead to Great Crawling
Human users aren’t the only ones who will suffer if your website doesn’t load properly. The larger website is and the more resources you have to use for you landing pages, the less resources you’ll have for your “crawl budget.” Crawl budgets are allocated by Google to “crawl” your website with a bot, and the slower your website is, the harder the crawl becomes.
You want to maximize the ease of the crawl because an easier and more thorough crawl translates to better results for your company in Google’s search results page. If you improve the speed of your website, you’ll also be improving the amount of pages Google’s bot can crawl through, subsequently increasing you SEO capabilities and website outreach. Crawling speed isn’t the only Google-specific factor for your website, however.
” Crawl Budget is the number of pages Googlebot crawls and indexes on a website within a given timeframe. ”
Page Load Speed is Highly Ranked
It’s rare for Google to give out information about its prized ranking algorithms, but they have broken from this practice on a number of occasions. For instance, in 2010, the company stated bluntly that page load speed is indeed a factor when determining how they rank websites on their results page. The speed of websites was important way back in 2010 and has only increased in importance as the years have gone by. Google ranks webpage speed so highly because they want to be certain the webpages they’re recommending to others are of the highest quality and will lead to consistent satisfaction.
High satisfaction for users who click on the first link is great not only for the websites they’re using, but satisfaction with Google as well, ensuring Google never loses its foothold on the search engine sphere. In 2018, Google began to role out a mobile-first index, meaning they were prioritizing users who used their phones and tablets to surf the internet. In this index as well, speed was an important ranking factor used to determine search results. Web speed has always been essential – some businesses have just figured it out earlier than others.
” Google has indicated site speed (and as a result, page speed) is one of the signals used by its algorithm to rank pages. ”
It’s not only direct factors that are affected by a poor running website. There are a plethora of other factors which are negatively impacted when your website is slow to load, such as “pogo sticking.” This is when users hit the link to your website, but it’s so slow to load that they hit the back button before the page even appears. This is a terrible sign and is a massive detriment to your Google ranking results.
One of the best ways to avoid pogo sticking is to improve the speed of your website to ensure it loads whenever the link is clicked on. As previously discussed, crawling speeds are also a great way to determine where you’ll end up in the rankings, and the faster your site, the better odds you’ll have of being on or near the first page of results.
Tools for Website Auditing
Okay, so website speed is absolutely critical, but how do you know where your website ranks in terms of speed and SEO capability? There are numerous tools online you can use and services you can contact to help determine your site’s speed and impact on SEO.
Even if you believe your site is running optimally as is, there are always a number of tricks and improvements which can be made for even better results – even the slightest difference in website speed can mean massive improvements to your website ranking and customer retention, so don’t overlook your available options. Here are some of the best tools for judging your website’s speed, but keep in mind that these measure only a specific page, not your entire website. For a full audit, there are a number of companies you can call.
The first tool is Lighthouse, resource provided by Google within Chrome. Lighthouse gives an incredibly comprehensive and quick audit of a webpage. It analyzes basic SEO factors such as accessibility and performance, and in particular the speed of the webpage. Lighthouse is free to use and easy to access. When you open Chrome, simply hit ctrl+shift+I and wait for the tool to open. It even allows you and others to audit password protected staging site as well.
Next is Google PageSpeed Insights, another free tool provided by Google for companies to utilize for SEO purposes. This tool has separate reports for mobile and desktop pages, as well as a variety of tailored recommendations to speed up the process and give you an accurate SEO estimate. PageSpeed Insights also gives you a neat estimation of the time that each recommendation will save your page load times. If you choose to use Lighthouse, consider adding PageSpeed Insights to your arsenal as well.
The final tool made available for free from Google is TestMySite. This is a great but undervalued resource, as many stop at Lighthouse and Insights. Google has recently updated it to provide better service and more accurate and effective insights into your site’s speed and other parameters. It comes with an estimated figure of revenue lost because of poor loading times; all you have to do is plug in a Google Analytics account with enhanced e-commerce reporting preconfigured. TestMySite is great at justifying developer hours for improving website speed to higher ups and skeptics. The numbers don’t lie.
There are a number of other tools which can test and audit your site. GTmetrix, Pingdom Tools, and My Web Audit are all great for a comprehensive report of your site’s strengths and weaknesses. GTmetrix in particular will give you great insights on how to improve your speed and take your website to the next level. It’s the most comprehensive site on this list, but Pingdom Tools is also great for measuring speed and estimating loading times.
If you’re feeling uncertain, Pingdom offers a great second option to test the validity of the other tools you’ve already used. GSC Crawl Time Report is nice for getting information from the perspective of bots. It will contain a good amount of information, including “time spent downloading a page.” Great for SEO recommendations and improving your search engine ranking.
Time to First Byte
When you use these tools, your website’s speed won’t be the only factor judged. There will be many other things to consider when judging your website, and among the most important is Time to First Byte, or TTFB. This measures the quality of your hosting servers and database performance.
Your website may have a highly optimized structure and configuration, ready to provide high quality and consistent results, but if your web hosting and servers are underperforming on the backend, they’ll sabotage your entire operation. Ways to improve TTFB include the adoption of content delivery networks like Cloudflare and running your website on an HTTP/2 network protocol.
One of the simplest but often unused fixes to fixing website loading times is reducing page size. Page size refers to all of the data being loaded onto individual pages – not just text, but images and videos too. The larger your page size is, the longer it will take to load. In fact, web pages which are much larger than average can actually strain servers and cause dips in quality in terms of speed and performance.
You may also have too many users trying to load a page at once as well, which will cause the site to slow down for everyone trying to access it. The rule of thumb is to keep page sizes down to about 1mb. Anything less is gravy, but as long as your page size is about 1mb, you should be fine, and your website should be performing admirably. To keep this number down, you can optimize images by compressing. The smaller the images and videos used on your website, the better.
Number of Requests
Next, you should create a sprite sheet of your images. If you know how to use CSS, you can merge your files into one folder and use it to display various parts of itself on different parts of your webpage. Finally, you can prevent unused scripts, fonts, and stylesheets from being called. You can toggle these elements easily from CMSs such as WordPress. If you toggle these things off, you’ll reduce the number of requests and improve the speed of your webpages.
Slow webpages bog down your business and irritate your customers
So you should be acutely aware of how fast your website is performing. Speed things up with a plethora of tools and a general website audit, then test other factors to further improve your SEO capabilities. If you need help let Bold Eye Media take your website from slow to profitable!