How many times have you connected to a website that makes you wait…and wait…and wait…until it finally loads? Would you stick around long enough to wait for it to load, or click away to one of their competitor’s websites?
This scenario has happened to many of us and we rarely think anything more of it. However, as a business owner, it could mean thousands of dollars in lost revenue, as well as a damaged reputation.
Not only that, slowly-loading websites on either desktop or mobile can also cause your marketing efforts to fail, even before your customers have a chance to reach your website.
Why Website Speed is Important
These days, your customers expect to see your website load in three to four seconds. It’s simply the result of how we’ve evolved in our expectations of our digital experience. Anything more than that can result in people leaving your website, which suggests to Google that you’re not providing a good user experience.
That’s due to something called a “bounce” rate. Bounce rates are tracked by web traffic analysis software, and represents the percentage of people visiting your site, and then leaving without clicking through to anywhere else.
The bad news is that Google can see your website’s bounce rate, so it’s important to keep it as low as possible. Here are some examples of how a high bounce rate can actually hurt your online marketing efforts:
- Lower your search rankings: Slow loading pages increases the chances of users leaving your website. High bounce rates and poor conversions negatively affect your authority in Google’s algorithm, directly affecting your search rankings. Therefore, a website optimized for speed will put a website higher on the search results page.
- Affects paid search campaigns: To have a successful PPC campaign, you need a high website quality score. If Google determines that your website provides a good user experience based on them reaching your page from search keywords, your quality score will be high. Low bounce rates and high conversions also raise your quality score, making it easier for you to show up in the top two positions on Google for paid ads.
- Impacts social ads: Facebook ads operate in much the same way as Google ads, focusing on providing the best ad results for their users. They also prioritize ads that offer a positive user experience, in which website speed plays a factor. If your website loads quickly, your ads are given higher priority in the Facebook newsfeed.
- Decreases customer satisfaction: The reality of user experience is that no one wants to wait more than five seconds for a website to load. Longer load times puts your customers off before they’ve even had a chance to look at your content, and raises the chance of them clicking away to your competitor’s website. Having happy customers means staying on your website longer, lowering your bounce rate which, as we’ve seen, affects your search, PPC, and social ad results.
- Lowers conversions: If people are bouncing off your website because it takes forever to load, how will they ever have a chance to convert? Having a fast-loading website that’s easy to navigate will improve the user experience, and lead them quickly and efficiently to your conversion pages.
It’s clear that your site speed can seriously hurt your business, and impact your bottom line. The good news is that there are ways to fix the situation so you can make both your customers and Google happy.
How to optimize website speed
Here are 6 ways you can reverse the trend of a bad bounce rate and start moving up the Google search rankings:
- Develop caching strategies: Modern websites have come a long way from simple HTML coding. We’re now regularly working with dynamic features, large images, web fonts, video, and more. These elements can slow down your website load speed, especially if they’re loaded using code on every visit. You can use many different cache strategies to store frequently used queries, files, and objects in order to optimize page load speed.
- Optimizing images: Unoptimized images can severely affect your load speed. Compressing them using an image compression tool, such as Imagify, helps shrink them into smaller sizes. This helps your page load faster. You can also use the “lazy loading” technique to speed up your website, which only downloads images as they become visible on the screen, as opposed to all at once.
- Use a content delivery network (CDN): If your customers are accessing your website from international locations, the time it takes for your server to deliver content to their computer will be noticeable. CDNs help decrease loading time by storing assets in remote data centres that are closer to your customers. The result is faster delivery of your website at much better load speeds.
- Optimize hosting: Your hosting solution might be affecting site speed as well. Low-cost hosting services often use shared servers with RAM and CPU that might already be over-burdened with demand. It’s well worth upgrading or configuring your current hosting package to ensure your website always loads with efficiency.
- Remove poorly designed plugins: With thousands of plugins available for WordPress, it’s tempting to download as many as possible to give your website as many features as possible. However, many plugins weren’t very well designed, and can negatively affect website performance. Even widgets that use external code can slow down your website, so it might be more prudent to look at other options to provide the services you need without weighing down your site.
- Solve load bottlenecks: Naturally, you want to drive users to your social media channels for ongoing engagement, or track performance of your social media ad campaigns. However, tracking scripts for platforms and series such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook pixels, and Google AdSense can hinder website performance. Your developer can usewaterfall reports from GT Metrix to identify bottlenecks and develop strategies to make everything run smoothly.
It takes some technical savvy to complete most (if not all) of these tips, so be sure to ask for assistance when optimizing your website for speed. If you have any questions about the process, just drop us a line. We’re happy to answer all of your questions.