Do you know that if your website isn’t generating enough leads, sales, interest, contacts, sign ups (insert goal of your website here), one of the reasons could be, it just isn’t loading fast enough. There are plenty of other reasons (I will summarise later) but page load speed is the first thing you should check.
What is page load speed?
This is the time it takes for a visitor to your website to load a particular page of your website in their browser. It can vary from less than a second to tens of seconds.
Why is page load speed important?
No one likes a slow website. Wating around on the internet is a big no no today. Everything about the online experience is geared towards delivering a lightning fast experience.
Fast computers, fast internet connections…
So you can’t really get away with a less than super fast website.
By having a fast website you are satisfying two important goals.
- To keep your website visitors engaged and happy. This should be a priority for EVERY website. If your website doesn’t load quick enough they will leave. You won’t get any engagement, you won’t get any conversions, leads or sales.
- To keep search engines happy. Keeping search engines happy is only important if you want to be visible on search engines. For some people, this is not important but for most of us, it is. In this video below you can hear a Google employee explain why speed is so important. Skip forward to 2.37 mins to hear the part specifically about speed.
1 and 2 above are more closely related than ever before. If you can keep your website visitors happy, then this keeps the search engines happy. Google knows when your page isn’t hitting the mark for your visitors. It looks at a range of factors that tell them how happy your visitor was (i.e bounce rate, page load time, what they did next). If Google thinks you are giving your visitors a bad user experience then they won’t give you a high place in their search engine results.
Giving your visitors a fast user experience is the first step to making leads and sales on your website. Your visitors will not hang around for a slow site to load. Waiting around gives your visitors a bad user experience and they will very likely leave and seek out your competitor instead.
But does a half a second here or there really matter? Yes, it does.
When someone visits your website for the first time and they experience a slow loading page, they will judge you and your business. A slow website = an untrustworthy and unprofessional business.
A fast website, on the other hand, gives a better indication of a more professional business. It shows you care about the user experience.
Site speed is the first opportunity you have to make a good first impression. If your site is fast, your user is happy. If your site is slow site your user will be frustrated which gives a bad first impression. I’m guessing you want to create a good first impression right?
Kissmetrics shows that the slower your load speed, the higher the rate of page abandonment.
So, even if you don’t care about search engines, you should care about the fact that people don’t like slow websites and they are not likely to return after having a bad user experience.
The expectation that you will have a fast loading website, is very high. If you don’t meet those expectations – you will lose visitors, customers and sales.
So if you want to;
- Have less people abandon your website
- Have more repeat visitors
- Have more loyal customers
- Have more loyal customers
- Increase customer satisfaction
- Stop negative reviews of your business
You need to identify if your site is slow and find out what is slowing your site down and then you can take steps to fix it.
The effect a slow website will have on your bottom line
You will have fewer visitors to your website because frustrated visitors are less likely to return.
These frustrated visitors will share their frustrations with your website and reduce the word of mouth traffic you might get.
Fewer visitors means fewer leads, sales and less profits.
Fewer visitors will also lead you to try other traffic generating strategies, such as paid traffic via Facebook. With a slow website, this is a money wasting exercise since part of the traffic you are paying for will abandon your site due to the slow loading times.
Lower positions in search engine results.
How can you tell if your pages are loading slowly?
There are two tools you can use to identify how fast your site is loading and what can be improved to speed your site up.
This site gives you a grade for both mobile and desktop and gives you some insights into what the problems are. The insights can be more detailed than the Pingdom tool below.
This site tells you the load speed of the page you enter, gives you a grade and gives you some insights into what the problems are. You can also see a timeline of how your website files are delivered to your user. This is really useful when prioritising your problems. Aim to fix the slowest loading files first.
What page load speed time should you aim for?
As tempting as it is to say “as quickly as possible”, I am not going to. Instead, I want you to think of how long you are willing to wait around for a page to load? Anything below 3 is usually acceptable. More than 4 and I’m pressing the back button!
When I review websites I place a low priority on tasks fixing site speed where the site is loading at 2 seconds or less. 3 – 4 seconds I would be bordering on saying it is a high priority task. Over 5 seconds and it becomes a priority to fix.
How do you fix a slow loading page?
Once you have identified your problems using the tools above, you can then decide on how to fix it.
The key to improving your speed is to not get scared by the technical side. When it comes to technical improvements, you have two options.
- Get someone else to do it.
- Do it yourself.
Before you can make that decision you need to know what you want to improve – you don’t have to know how.
I’ll say that again.
You only need to know the problem you want fixing, you don’t need to know how to fix it.
Knowing what to improve will help you decide if you want to fix it yourself or if you prefer to get someone else to do it.
There are a few common problems that you may have that can slow your site down.
- Large images that have not been optimised for the web.
- Too many files being loaded when your page loads in someone’s browser.
- A badly coded website.
- Not using caching.
Addressing these issues can greatly increase your site load speed. You can identify your problems using the tools I have already mentioned.
As an aside; the problems the tools report are problems that are mostly within your control. I say mostly because it depends on your website platform. WordPress is really flexible and you can control pretty much everything. Other providers such as Weebly will have more control over the way your website is built. This can cause problems if you want to improve something they won’t give you access to.
There are other reasons outside of your control that can slow down the loading of your page.
- Server connections.
- Other peoples methods of connecting to the internet e.g dial up.
So, it makes sense that you improve the things you DO have control over. What may look like a quick loading page to you, could be a nightmare for everybody else!
How I speeded up my WordPress website
I regularly check my speed. Sometimes after adding new functionality, my website can slow down. I came across a few problems recently, this is how I fixed them.
- The caching error is very common, this blog post explains how I fixed it. https://www.weiderweb.com/fix-leverage-browser-caching-error/
- Once I fixed that, I addressed my server response time.This is where you will find out how good or bad your hosting really is https://www.weiderweb.com/fix-reduce-server-response-time-error/
- After speeding up the server slightly I optimised my images https://www.weiderweb.com/optimise-images-to-increase-page-load-speed/
- Finally, I quickly checked my mobile speed optimisation https://www.weiderweb.com/mobile-load-speed-optimisation/
I was able to really increase my speed and everything I have written about here, you should be able to try too (if your site is WordPress).
So, why don’t you give it a try? Identify your problems, then see if you can fix them. If you can’t, give me a shout. I can point you in the right direction 🙂
If your site isn’t WordPress, I highly recommend moving your site over to WordPress. WordPress is flexible and you have complete control over it, unlike some other website builders. I can help you rebuild your site in WordPress, either I can do it for you or I can coach you through the process. Get in touch and we can discuss your options.