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My Grandma Moves Faster than Your Website—Here’s How to Fix That
“Why does my website load slowly? How do I make my website load faster? Does website speed affect SEO?”
These are the questions that plague the minds of our clients and prospects. Website speed impacts your bottom line, and is an important consideration that separates a good user experience from a bad user experience–or even from a bounced visit.
Did you know that:
- The average recommended website load time is three seconds—the same time it takes a Ferrari to accelerate from 0 – 60 mph
- Even 3 seconds of waiting decreases customer satisfaction by about 16%?
- Just a 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions?
- Slower page load time results in an increase in page abandonment, with a 4 second load time seeing as high as a 25 percent increase in page abandonment compared to one with a <1 second load time?
- Amazon found that every extra 100ms of loading time cost them 1 percent in sales and Wal-Mart found that of the visits that led to a sale loaded twice as fast as the non-sales visits.
In addition, because search engines like Google want to offer the best search engine results to their users, you can bet your bippy that they don’t want your slow ass site sitting pretty at the top the search engine results page.
How many leads and sales is your slow site costing you? I can’t tell you that (actually, I can if you call me and give me your website URL and a few important numbers, like your visit-to-lead conversion rate). But if you want to know why your website loads slowly and how to fix it, you’ve come to the right blog.
Why Does My Website Load Slowly?
Slow loading times can be caused by many things, including:
- Too many redirects
- Compression isn’t enabled
- Slow server response time
- No cached resources
- Too many resources
- Images aren’t optimized
- CSS isn’t optimized
- Visible content isn’t prioritized
- Using the synchronous version of a script
- Too many plugins
- Viewport isn’t configured and content isn’t sized to viewport
- Too-small font sizes
- Typography isn’t SERP-friendly
How Do I Make My Website Load Faster?
Enter your website’s URL into Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. This will give you a page speed score and give you page speed optimization tips specific for your website.
However, here are some general tips most sites can incorporate:
- Optimize your images – Compress your images. You can use a program called Smush.it to remove unnecessary bytes from your image files. In addition, make sure you do not scale images in HTML. Reduce the number of image requests by using CSS sprites.
- Optimize your content – The fewer page elements you have (images, stylesheets, scripts, Flash, etc.), the faster your site will load. Combine your files to reduce the number of HTTP requests—this includes combining your scripts into a single script and combining your CSS into a single stylesheet.
- Cache me if you can – If a user has never been to your site, he or she will need to make several HTTP requests to load your various website components. However, you can make some of these components cacheable to avoid unnecessary HTTP request on subsequent pageviews to make them load faster.
- Gzip it. Gzip it good. – A compression method call gzipping can reduce your site’s response size by 70%.
- Avoid landing page redirects – Sometimes redirects are necessary, but you should avoid having more than one redirect from a given URL to the final landing page. According to Google, “Because redirects trigger an additional HTTP request-response cycle and add extra round-trip-time latency, it’s important to minimize the number of redirects issued by your application.”
How Do I Make My Website Load Faster on Mobile?
With the average mobile page speed over seven seconds, chances are you’ll need to make some changes to your campaign. In order to optimize mobile site speed and the mobile experience for users, we recommend the following:
- Create a mobile-first responsive site design
- Minimize the number of redirects you have in place
- Reduce server response time
- Optimize your images so that they are the correct size
- Enable compression of larger pages
- Minimize or remove any unnecessary code
- Remove any unnecessary plugins
- Avoid using Flash
- Use CSS instead of images whenever you can
11 Tools To Help Speed Up Your Website
So how can you improve your website loading speed? Use the tools below to help speed up your website:
Does Website Speed Affect SEO?
Page speed is a factor in Google’s ranking algorithm, so site speed can absolutely affect your organic rankings. In addition, Google’s own Matt Cutts said in October 2013 that slow mobile sites would be getting penalized within the next 12 months. Google emphasizes positive user experience as critical to a successful mobile SEO campaign and ideally wants mobile pages to have load times of one second or less.
How Fast Should My Website Be?
So, how fast should your website be? First off, saying “my website loads in X.X seconds,” is inaccurate. Why? Because website speed is a fluid concept. The thing is, web pages don’t load all at once–they load piece-by-piece. A user’s internet connection, browser, and device can all play a part in how fast a web page loads.
When a website has loaded completely, it means every single aspect of the page has rendered.
Look at the example Google gives in the video below. You’ll see two web pages loading. In total, both pages load completely in the same amount of time. However, in the first example the web page shows each element loading piece-by-piece. In the second example, the web page is blank until the entire page has loaded, leaving the user time to wonder if it’s even working.
Here’s an example of this in practice:
Two people navigate to the same web page on a smartphone; we’ll call them Jack and Jane.
- Jack, whose internet provider is Sprint, navigates to the website using Google’s Chrome browser on an Android phone.
- Jane, whose internet provider is Verizon, navigates to the website using the Safari browser on an iPhone.
- Jack sees the first image on the website appear in .42 seconds.
- Jane, (using a different internet browser and a different internet provider) sees the first image appear in 1.8 seconds.
Which webpage speed is the accurate one?
As a rule of thumb, your above-the-fold (top) content should take under three seconds to load.
After three seconds, 40 percent of people abandon a web page if it takes longer than roughly 3 seconds to load.
Need Help Optimizing Your Site’s Page Speed?
Your potential customers are impatient and your slow loading website is costing you business—that much is clear. What might not be clear to the average business owner is how to fix it (even with all my punny tips above).
Enter your website address into the box below to get a free analysis of your website:
Keep in mind that page speed is just one of many ranking factors for improving your site’s visibility in search engine results. Our SEO team is well-equipped to help with the other ranking factors as well. Give us a call.
About The Author: Betsy is the social media lead and a digital marketing expert with Blue Corona. When she’s not managing Blue Corona's digital content campaigns she’s urban exploring, hiking with her dog, or teaching horseback riding lessons. Twitter: @educatedbets
View more blogs by Betsy McLeod