We often hear about the importance of having good download speeds for your website. And while the reason for this may seem obvious from a user’s perspective, one may wonder how the optimisation of this particular criterion can really affect its sales or the general effect the business. So what are the issues related to the speed of your pages? And how can an improvement at this level benefit your business?
To make a good first impression
The first reason why speed can have a real influence on your site is related to the impression that you will be able to give users who visit your site. It would be a shame to have committed time and money in the design, content and functionality of your site to finally see high dropout rates because of a slow loading speed. The infographic below illustrates this cause-and-effect relationship.
The speed of downloading your pages is closely linked to the image that visitors will have of your site and your business, and this is in the first seconds of their visit. Very slow speeds could actually shorten their navigation or even degrade the overall user experience, all the more important if you manage an e-commerce website.
Internet users are becoming more impatient
Today, internet users and consumers are noticeably impatient. They expect to get fast information and it is estimated that 65% of consumers are not ready to wait more than 3 seconds for a site to load, which greatly reduces the margins of error for any website wanting to be effective.
The speed of a site is really a prerequisite because it is what all users expect. 73% of Internet users today believe that the loading speed of sites is still too slow. It is, therefore, it is a factor that you simply cannot ignore.
To adapt to an increasingly mobile market
In addition, the users have also evolved in recent years with the emergence and democratisation of mobile devices. Today, mobile traffic has even exceeded that on desktop and users obviously have the same requirements in terms of display time for the websites they view on their devices.
And beyond the simple technical feasibility, that is to say, the ability of your site to adapt to these new devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.), we must also note the importance of having a speed of display especially for its uses. Visitors check their devices while on the move, often with an internet connection that can be limited in certain areas and impact the download speed of your pages. It is therefore imperative to not take any chances and to reduce waiting times to adapt to an ever more mobile and moving market.
To boost your SEO
It is now clear to all that the speed of a site is a big factor for SEO. It has an impact on the way the pages will be considered by search engines and in particular Google robots coming to test this when they crawl the websites. But Google also wants to constantly improve the user experience of its users by offering the best sites, not only for their relevance to queries but also for their ease of use. And of course, the download speed is extremely important.
And if this speed is very important from a natural referencing point of view, it also plays a role in paid search or SEM. It impacts Google’s Ad Rank, based on the maximum cost-per-click you enter for each keyword and the advertiser’s Quality Score. Thus, a more efficient website speed will necessarily have an impact on the appearance of your advertising in Google, but also in the long run, on the costs that you will incur for your marketing.
To guarantee good conversion rates
The impact of your site’s speed does not stop there. Several studies show that download speed is also closely related to your conversion rates. Indeed, not only an effective speed keeps your bounce rate low, but it will also allow to create a good user experience and help with conversion rates.
It has been estimated that the conversion rate drops by 7% for each additional second that would take place in the site load. It is, therefore, a criterion that shouldn’t be taken lightly! Amazon, for example, after conducting many tests in this direction, said that an extra second in the download of their pages would imply a loss of $ 1.6 billion over a year. All the more important if you value your conversion rates!
To develop your business and your reputation over time
But beyond your conversions and your sales, it is also your reputation in the long term that can be impacted by a slow website. A bad experience for the user will have a double effect in his memory: the first effect is most certainly that he will avoid your site the next time he sees it. Because almost 8 out of 10 Internet users decide not to return to an e-commerce site when the overall performances have not satisfied them.
But it can also have an effect on word of mouth, which can be particularly important in the first months of activity of a website. If people are not happy with your site, they will not recommend it to their friends or social network subscribers, depriving you of new opportunities.
Speed is, therefore, a prime criterion to consider in order to benefit from the best ROI for your website and to ensure long-term sustainability.
Some good tips to optimise the speed of your pages
There are many reasons to be interested in the speed of your website. But where to start to optimise it without having to remake the site in its entirety?
- How to measure the speed of your site?
First of all, to evaluate the speed of a website we will focus especially on the average times of downloads of pages. This metric, available on statistical monitoring interfaces such as Google Analytics, gives you a good idea of the waiting time that users must meet to see your content. This statistic is usually calculated from two distinct variables, the server response time and the browser response time.
Another way to know the speed of your site is to use specialised software that will perform a quick audit on your pages. This is the case for example of PageSpeed Insights, a tool by Google. To access this free tool, simply copy the URL of the page you want to analyse to obtain results by type of device (desktop or mobile).
- Reduce file size
One of the main factors that slow down your pages on your website is usually their weight. And in many cases, it is the visuals and images that are causing a slow download. At the moment, there is a lot of software (online, free and paid) or plugins directly integrated with WordPress, which will allow you to find the perfect ratio between image quality and file weight. The goal here is obviously to always offer good quality and attractive images without losing efficiency and speed for your pages. Feel free to take stock of your visuals, taking care to consider them as a whole, banners to photos, pictograms used to punctuate your pages.
- Simplify your HTML code
Another interesting factor to study when trying to optimise the speed of a site is that of the HTML code. More technical, a call to an experienced developer will allow you to “clean” your code, making it easier to download your site, but also the indexing of Google’s robots to optimise your SEO.
In practice, you should avoid as much as possible code formulations that are too complicated or the excessive use of tables or iframes. In addition, it is preferable to allow gzip compression to compress your pages and thus improve display efficiency. Of course, there is now a lot of software that can help you in this more technical task.
- Simplify the design of your site
In general, simplicity is always the best choice you can make on the web. Indeed, a too complex design or images with unnecessary effects will unnecessarily weigh down the whole website. This is why the so-called “flat design” is today one of the biggest trends on the web. And for good reason! Not only does this type of minimalist design improve the general readability of a site, but it also allows you to gain lightness and speed of download. So it’s a very good tip to set up on your own website.
- Change your caching system
One of the first things to do when you want to optimise the speed of your site is to use a caching system on the server side. Caches allow you to create static pages that will display faster than initially dynamic pages. The goal here is to save maximum server resources to display content faster for the visitor to your site. To do so, there are many plugins like WP-Rocket or WP Super Cache, for example.
- Choosing the right host
The host you choose for your website is also important and especially the speed with which your pages will appear for end users. But it should be noted here that it isn’t necessary to find the most expensive web host, because often the least expensive formulas can also have a perverse effect on the response time of servers used. Better then opt for professional hosting solutions that can offer the best response efficiencies for your website.
These tips are obviously not exhaustive and there are many ways to optimise the speed of your pages, which will also adapt to your own problems (blog, e-commerce, etc.). But none of these techniques can really be beneficial in the long term without a follow-up and a real regular interest to this essential criterion that is the download speed.
Optimising the speed of your site is a science and for very large sites, such as Amazon or Google, every extra millisecond of loading a page can lose huge amounts of money to the company. At SME level, even if the stake can be regarded as less important, it is better to not take any chances.
This type of strategy can actually take a lot of time and some technical skills in terms of development or design, but it is a bet that can pay off in the long run for your business.
If you need your website speed improved, Marketing One Ten a digital marketing agency is here to help