Why is website speed important and 8 ways to improve your website speed?
Websites are like cars. The faster they go, the more people want to use them. But unlike cars, website speed is something that businesses often overlook. Site speed is the time it takes for a page to load. Your website speed is important for a number of reasons. First, it impacts your search engine ranking. Second, it affects your conversion rate – the slower your site, the less likely people are to stick around and buy from you. Finally, it impacts your bottom line – every second counts when it comes to website speed! So how can you improve your website speed? Read on for some tips:
Why is website speed so important?
Slow websites are a major turnoff for users. No one wants to wait around for a page to load, especially if they can find what they’re looking for elsewhere. In addition to being annoying, slow loading times can also have a negative impact on your business. A slow website can hurt your search engine ranking, as Google takes site speed into account when determining where to rank pages. A slower site can also lead to lower conversion rates, as users are less likely to stick around and purchase something if they have to wait too long for the page to load. In our Flagstaff SEO services this is one of the things that we check and attempt to optimize for as it can make a difference in how Google ranks your site.
How long will potential customers wait for my site to load?
It is important to keep in mind that potential customers will not wait long for a site to load. In fact, most users expect a site to load in less than three seconds. If a site takes longer than this to load, there is a good chance that the user will simply give up and move on to another site. Therefore, it is important to make sure that your site is as fast and responsive as possible. Kissmetrics has done a study and made an awesome infographic that shows some very interesting customer behavior when it comes to site loading speeds. In this study they found that 47% of consumers expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less which is quite quick especially when talking about mobile site speed. They also have said that 40% of users will abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. From my own personal experience I would say this may depend on the type of site you are looking at, how niche the content is, if there is other information or products like what you are looking for that is readily available. If I really want to look at something and very few other sites have the info I am looking for I may stay longer, but if it is product specs that many others have info about I may leave much quicker.
Slower Site Means Lower Conversion Rates
A slower site can also lead to lower conversion rates, as potential customers may become frustrated and give up before completing a purchase. This is especially true for small businesses, who may not have the budget to invest in a faster site. In order to compete with larger businesses, it is important to make sure your site is as fast and user-friendly as possible. If I go to a site, especially one to buy a product, a very slow site can make me wonder what other issues the site may have like not being secure enough to make a payment. Most larger businesses people may already know and trust so if their site is a little slow it isn’t going to get the customer as worried that the business is not legitimate. Again from the Kissmetrics study they say that a 1 second delay in page speed can result in 7% reduction in conversion. This can be a ton of money in the long run. Say you are making $1000 per month on sales if your site is say a second slower than the standard 3 seconds you may be giving up $70 right there.
Google has made website speed and Core Web Vitals part of its ranking algorithm
Google has made website speed and Core Web Vitals part of its ranking algorithm. The Core Web Vitals are a set of metrics that measure the performance of a website. They are: load time, interactivity, and visual stability. The goal of the Core Web Vitals is to improve the user experience of a website by making it more responsive, stable, and visually appealing. This means that if your website is slow or does not meet the criteria for Core Web Vitals, it will likely rank lower in Google search results. This is especially important for small businesses, as a lower ranking can mean fewer potential customers finding your website. If you’re not sure how fast your website is or whether it meets the criteria for Core Web Vitals, there are tools available from Google called Pagespeed Insights that can help you assess and improve your site’s speed and performance. Search Engine Journal had a great article with quotes from those at google confirming this was the case. John Mueller an employee of Google has said that the web vitals do play a role in how sites are ranked though relevancy of content plays a higher role. He has also said that those that are considered “needs improvement” to “good” in core web vitals and speed may see rankings improvement. So, not only do we see that your visitors may not stay on a slow site and that your conversions can drop, but we also see that you may not have as many potential customers coming to your site in the first place as your site may not rank as well. All these things can lead to revenue loss.
How do you increase website speed?
Increasing site speed can really be a pain. There are tons of things that can be done, but sometimes there are tradeoffs that need to be made to get good website speed. I have found that sometimes it is almost impossible to get a good score on Google Pagespeed Insights especially on the mobile side though I have one thing I have recently found that seems to be working well, but can be a little finicky. JnM Web Creations works mainly with WordPress so I will be discussing that more, but some of these things can be done on other platforms or through your hosting. The biggest thing you can do is have a good hosting provider and hosting stack. On platforms like Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, Shopify, etc. you really have no choice of hosting as they provide it and you are stuck with what they give you, but if you have something like a WordPress or a Joomla site you will be able to choose your hosting. I would recommend a hosting that has a litespeed server or some cloud server that is extremely fast. In hosting you get what you pay for. A $2 per month Godaddy account may work, but it is unlikely to keep your site running very fast. We use A2 Hosting and have a VPS Litespeed server that runs quite quickly and usually gets good website speeds. Another thing that can really help is to have a CDN. A CDN is a content delivery network. It is a system of computers that are used to deliver content to users. The content is usually delivered from a server that is close to the user’s location. This makes the content delivery faster and more efficient. Not only can it increase speed, but there are other security benefits to them. Check out Cloudflare as it is free and does a great job.
WordPress specific list:
- Have a good speed and caching plugin. There are many out there. Here are the ones I would recommend. These plugins will do many things so I won’t go into everything, but some of the things they might do is to lazyload images (loading images not when you load the site but when they get into view), make your website code smaller and compress it, load code differently and many other things. The main thing is that these plugins need to be experimented with the settings and though they may speed up your site they may also break some functionality so you have to really look at your site after you make changes to it. If you want the best, but pricey check out WP Rocket. I don’t use this due to the price, but have had customers that have had it and it seems to have some of the most features. If you have a Litespeed server the Litespeed cache plugin has tons of features and is totally free. If you just have a standard, likely apache server, then you should probably try the WP Fastest Cache plugin along with the Autoptimize plugin.
- Get a plugin to automatically compress your images. I use Shortpixel and it is a plugin but also has a site where you can compress your images. WP Smush is another that I believe has a free version.
- This one is basically an all in one. At the moment I am using a plugin called Rabbit Loader. It is still in its infancy but it has amazing results so far. It can take place of your speed, caching and CDN as it does all of these. On this site I have gotten high 80s to 90s in mobile scores on Google Pagespeed Insights. Previously I was getting much slower and about 20s-30s on the score side. Though I have had it disconnect and then it goes back to the slower speed of the site. When it works it is the most amazing speed plugins I have used, but again I am hoping it will get better and the developer will keep supporting it as it does cost a pretty penny. It is a monthly fee, but right now it is on sale on Appsumo for a one time fee for lifetime use. I have bought the highest tier. Check it out on Appsumo. Below is this website homepage Google PageSpeed Insights for both mobile and desktop using Rabbit Loader.
Here is a list of things that can be done basically on any platform:
- Make sure all images are compressed and web ready. Normally you do not want anything more than 1920 pixels wide and no more than about 250kb on the high end. This is one of the biggest things I see are images that are way too big and the site loads slowly.
- Do not host videos on your own hosting. Usually you are able to embed a Vimeo or Youtube video onto a site (not always for video backgrounds). A site trying to load a 10mb or more video can take a very long time.
- Always make sure your site is using an SSL. Though it may not be a huge gain for speed the HTTPS protocol is faster than the old HTTP. Also you get the added security as well.
Website speed is important for a variety of reasons. It can improve your user experience, help you rank higher in search engines, and increase your conversion rate. There are a number of ways to improve your website speed like WP Rocket and Rabbit Loader for WordPress if you want to try and do it yourself, but if you need help just contact us and we’d be happy to give you a hand.