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Is your website faster than a Ferrari?
It needs to be, and that’s not a metaphor. The average recommended website load time is three seconds—the same time it takes a Ferrari to accelerate from 0 – 60 mph.
Because your website speed affects your bottom line.
It does; that’s empirical. No matter what study on recommended website page speed you read, every single one says the same thing: a slow website can impact how many people you reach and whether or not those people convert.
Consider this your quick-and-dirty guide to website speed.
It’s an important-no-really-this-can-affect-your-income type of issue, so in this guide I’ll give you the rundown on what you REALLY need to know about website speed in order to prevent your website from being a nail in the great coffin of leads, including:
- Why the heck website speed is important
- How website page speed affects your bottom line
- How fast your web pages should load
- Factors that affects your website’s speed
- 10 tools to help optimize your website speed
(If you’re not in the mood to scroll past the infographic below, and since this is a post inherently about people’s impatience, the links above will skip you ahead to the content that matters most. You’re welcome.)
How Important Is Website Speed, Really?
What creates your bottom line? Your customers, right? And how do your customers find your business?
I’ll give you a hint—it’s your website.
In fact, 85 percent of consumers used the internet to find local businesses in 2012. Do you think more or fewer people have adopted online search methods since then? According to Statista, over 2 billion people are expected to buy goods and services online by the year 2019.
Of those two billion people, 47 percent of them expect your webpage to load in two seconds or less, and 40 percent will abandon a page that takes more than 3 seconds.
Think about it; if your site doesn’t provide instant gratification, there are hundreds of thousands more (with the same type of services and content) that will. All the user has to do is hit the “back” button.
How Page Speed Affects Your Bottom Line: A Slow Website = A High Abandonment Rate
When was the last time you were at a theme park? And when was the last time you (or your kids) skipped a ride because the line was too long?
While a carnival ride is, granted, EXTREMELY different than a website, the human behavior is the same—people don’t like to wait. Not for carnival rides, not for websites, not for dinner.
They get even MORE impatient when it comes to website speed.
Want proof? I particularly like this study by Financial Times, which found that delayed page speed diminished the amount of articles users read in the site as well as the revenue from advertisers.
I say I like this particular study because people who read Financial Times are there for a reason. They aren’t just browsing for something to look at while they’re bored—they’re invested and interested in the content. If they’re dropping off, it’s a sign.
That’s not the only study recently done, check out these other 12 case studies, compiled by Hubspot:
Now that we’ve established a slow page speed does has a negative impact, we can dig into exactly HOW that happens.
Website Speed Affects Your Ranking in Search Results
The Goog itself has indicated that site speed (more specifically, page speed) is one of the factors considered in it’s search algorithm. Not only that, but its spiders aren’t supermen–they can only crawl a certain number of pages, and if yours is one that doesn’t load in time, it doesn’t get indexed.
In layman’s terms, the slower your site speed, the further down in the rankings you go. Keep in mind that there are a PLETHORA of other ranking signals, so speeding up your website shouldn’t be your only tactic for showing up higher in online search results. Take a look at the search listing below for “how to plunge a toilet.” With the exception of the result in the knowledge graph and with most other factors being equal (content, relevance, authority), you can see the web page with the fastest load time is favored.
The Load Speed of Webpages You Share On Social Media Matters
Facebook took note of that three-second abandonment statistic and announced in August 2017 that news feed updates with slow-loading links will be shown lower in the newsfeed:
“With this update, we’ll soon take into account the estimated load time of a webpage that someone clicks to from any link in News Feed on the mobile app. Factors such as the person’s current network connection and the general speed of the corresponding webpage will be considered. If signals indicate the webpage will load quickly, the link to that webpage might appear higher in your feed.” – Facebook
If you’ve got a business that relies on social media, we suggest you follow their best practices to improve mobile site performance. Want everything you post on Facebook to rank higher? Check out this resource on hacking Facebook’s algorithm.
How Fast Should My Website Be?
Your website should load in under 4 seconds.
Kissmetrics found that 40 percent of people abandon a web page if it takes longer than roughly 3 seconds to load. Keep in mind that there’s a spectrum.
One end of the spectrum is a completely bare page that loads in a tenth of a second. It’s completely stripped down, much like a Google AMP page, completely devoid of any fancy images, fonts, special effects, etc.
On the other end of the spectrum you’ve got a loaded website that takes a full 5 seconds to complete loading. It is, however, loaded with graphics, photo galleries, 360-degree interactive videos, customizable design features—the works.
The first option is great for, say, a news publication that depends on a speedy turnaround and quick, accessible information. But what about a design company? Or a remodeling company? They’d rely more on the imagery and 360-degree tours.
The standards many have been using for page load time come from a study conducted by Geoff Kenyon on Moz where he compares website speed against the rest of the web:
- if your site loads in 5 seconds, it is faster than approximately 25% of the web
- if your site loads in 2.9 seconds, it is faster than approximately 50% of the web
- if your site loads in 1.7 seconds, it is faster than approximately 75% of the web
- if your site loads in 0.8 seconds, it is faster than approximately 94% of the web
It’s hard to believe, but back in 2010, Google recommended that “2 seconds is the threshold for e-commerce website acceptability. At Google, we aim for under a half second.”
14 Things That Cause a Slow Website and How to fix Them
According to Yahoo, 80% of a web page’s load time is spent downloading the different coded aspects of the page, like images, plugins, style sheets, scripts, etc. Below are the most common site speed offenders. You can learn how to fix them yourself by following specific rules from Google.
- 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
Optimize Your Site Speed: 11 Tools To Help
So how can you improve your website loading speed? Luckily there are a stupendous amount of tools that can help you improve the speed of a slow website or a slow web page.
Final Thought: Website Speed Should Be Left to Professionals
It’s true. It takes years of study and application in order to become an expert on site speed, which is why there are web design and hosting companies. Blue Corona specializes in building affordable, high-performance lead generation websites. From web design to content, our team will handle it all. If your budget is limited, we have a huge library of website designs and layouts proven effective for SEO and for converting visits into leads. Looking for something totally custom? We do that, too. It doesn’t matter whether this will be your first website or a simple SEO tune-up of your existing website, you’ve come to the right place.
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