Imagine you’ve been surfing the net for quite a while, and you came across this really cool advertisement for, say, corporate dinners. You’re interested, so you click on the ad waiting for the website to load. But it doesn’t ... how long are you ready to wait for the “magic” to happen? If you’re an average user, the waiting time will be just 3 seconds. Right?
Now let’s get back to your business. Your potential client types in your web address and hits enter. What you don’t want to do is leave them with enough time to grab a snack or a cup of coffee before the website loads.
We’ve all got to remember: users love quick sites, and so does Google!
Page speed, user experience and SEO
Google has specifically stated page load time as an important factor in achieving better search engine rankings. So, as a business, you are interested in making your page load as quickly as possible.
Slower load time also means that search engines can crawl a smaller number of pages in your website using their allocated crawl budget, so the indexation of your website could also suffer.
However, this is not the sole factor. Pages that have load speed over 3 seconds tend to have higher bounce rates and the average time on page for them is lower which is directly connected with conversions. Even clients who are determined to buy from you may get irritated and leave if it takes forever for each page of your website to load. So, user experience is another important reason for keeping your website load time fast.
Reasons for slow page performance
By now you are probably wondering which aspects of your web performance need some fixing, so let’s look at some of the most common reasons for slow page speed and some ways to tackle the issue:
- Unoptimized images
Most images used in your website can be reduced in size without affecting their visual impact. Reducing the size of PNG and JPEG images used on your website can often lead to a huge reduction of your website “weight”.
- Omitting HTTP compression
Most websites don’t use HTTP compression and your website may be one of them. Fixing this can dramatically reduce the size of each page, thereby improving load time.
- Omitting caching information for images
When your website uses caching, the browser stores a copy of images used on your pages. This prevents the browser from reloading the same image for recurring requests, hugely (and positively) impacting your page load time.
- Using a large number of redirects
Do you use redirects? If so, note that every time a user is redirected to a new page, the time requested for the HTTP request-response cycle to complete adds about two seconds loading time. Let’s look at an example of a mobile redirect pattern:
"someexample.com -> www.someexample.com -> m.someexample.com ->m.someexample.com/home". If yours is similar, remember that the two additional redirects mean waiting time for the end-user.
- Neglecting server response time
The server response time of your website is affected by a number of criteria ranging from the software your server uses and to the hosting your website is stored on. Any response time over 200ms is considered to be slow, so if you’re the owner of one, look for performance bottlenecks like slow routing or database queries, insufficient memory and more. You can dig deeper by reading this article on MOZ.
Making some changes to your website may take a while, but it’s worth it. Put in the effort to make both the clients and search engines favor your website and the increase in conversions won’t keep you waiting!