Picture this scenario. You’re visiting a website for the first time and it takes more than a few seconds to properly load — which is basically years in ‘Internet time.’
Ask yourself the question: Do you stay on the page or close the window?
Chances are, you’re probably long gone, never to return again.
Why? It’s simple psychology. People (aka customers, readers, and visitors) expect a fast website. They just do. While fast-loading websites make a great first impression, slow-loading websites do just the opposite. Fast websites are seen as professional and reliable, whereas slow websites are seen as faulty and untrustworthy.
That’s why if you’re a web pro, small business, or an individual with a website, don’t underestimate the importance of website speed. In fact, studies show that if your website doesn’t load after three seconds, 40% of individuals will abandon that website.
So without further ado, let’s delve into all the reasons why having a fast website is so important and what you can do to get yours in tiptop shape.
A Fast Website Keeps Users Happy (and Grows Conversions)
Great user experience (UX) design is, in essence, about creating a seamless website experience for your users. Not only do you have to give your users what they’re looking for, but you also have to give it to them fast.
And if you don’t? Well, you’re left with some very unhappy campers. This results in customers not referring to your business or service anymore, which naturally halts any growth and word-of-mouth. They might decide to unsubscribe to your newsletter. And they’ll certainly start ‘bouncing’ off your website in record numbers.
What’s a ‘bounce,’ you might ask? This term refers to someone who doesn’t view more than one page on your website before leaving. In other words, the rate of people coming to your website and immediately leaving is called a “bounce rate.” Slower websites typically have higher bounce rates, while faster websites tend to have lower ones. Bounce rate is also a ranking factor for SEO — but we’ll touch on that later.
If users bounce off your website due to slow loading times, they’re simply not converting. (As a refresher, converting is when a user completes a desired action, such as signing up for your newsletter, sharing on their social media, filling out a form you’ve provided and/or making a purchase.) If your website has a longer checkout or conversion process, a recent study shows that a two-second delay is all it takes to increase checkout abandons to 87%.
In other words, the longer it takes for your website to load, the more time it gives users to change their mind about you and what they might be purchasing. In fact, an in-house test at Amazon found that every 100-microsecond increase in load time turned into a 1% decrease in sales. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that time actually is money.
The solution? A fast and user-friendly website that attracts users during their purchase decision, leading them to convert and keep coming back for more.
A Fast Website Boosts Your Google Rankings
So much effort goes into building and creating a website. But if no one sees it, all that hard work of yours quite literally goes down the drain.
To put it plainly, if you want an audience, you need to rank high on search engines. One way to do this? You guessed it — having a fast-performing website. And while we already know that site speed is expected by your users, it’s also expected by Google.
Google knows that when your website loads quickly, users will typically stay on your website for longer, they’ll convert more, and they’ll definitely bounce less. No wonder Google rewards a fast-loading website by boosting its visibility (ahem, ranking it higher) in their search results.
More specifically, site speed also has a massive impact on your SEO rankings, both on desktop and mobile (especially now with Google’s mobile-first initiative) as well as paid advertisements on Google that directly impact your quality score.
Simple Steps to Speed Up Your Website
While it’s not set in stone, experts recommend several ways to increase your need for speed. In no particular order, they are as follows:
- Test your current page speed.
To identify areas where you can improve your mobile page loading times, Google recommends its own tool, TestMySite. (Side note: they test via a 3G connection.) Another option? GTMetrix, a free tool that you can use to test your website’s speed performance.
- Clean up your website.
It may sound obvious, but one of the most common reasons why website speed decreases is that your website has become infected with malware. To clean it up, Admin Tools for Joomla or MalCare for WordPress websites will do the trick.
- Reconsider your hosting provider.
Speaking of Content Management Systems (CMS), lack of website speed may be the result of sharing server space or using a generic hosting provider that’s not finely tuned to handle your CMS. If your website runs on WordPress, Managed WordPress Hosting is your best bet. Optimized for website speed, it can help solve a variety of factors that may be slowing down your website.