We all know how frustrating it can be waiting for a web page to load. But, what many people may not know is just how big of a difference a few seconds can make not just to their frustration level but to their bottom line.
Related: Vrooom! Why Website Speed Matters.
Blame your customers' expectations: Nearly half of the people surveyed in studies conducted by Gomez.com and Akamai.com expected page-load times of two seconds or less and 40 percent of users said they would abandon a website with page-load times of three seconds or more.
What's more, once they leave, they aren’t likely to be back: As many as 79 percent of those in the survey who were dissatisfied with website performance said they were less likely to return to make a purchase. Even just a fraction of a second could have a huge impact: When Google experimented with changing its search-engine results page to return 30 results rather than 10, the resulting half-second increase in load-time led to a 20 percent drop in traffic, according to the same study.
Now, if this was Google’s experience, imagine what shaving valuable seconds off your page load time could do for for your conversion rate. Here, we’ll take a look at what steps you can take to ensure that you’re not wasting valuable visits due to slow website performance.
Audit your site.
Before you can begin to optimize your website’s speed, you’ll need to run some tests to gauge its performance. Lighthouse is a free, open-source automated tool that runs a thorough website audit. You can run it against any web page. It provides a detailed report, pointing out any areas that could use some improvement, and actionable steps on how to fix those areas.
Google PageSpeed is a comprehensive website-auditing tool that will give your site a ranking out of 100, and offer suggestions on how to boost performance.
Optimize your images.
Research shows that, on average, more than half of a website’s memory load is taken up by images. One of the easiest ways to improve your page-load times is to optimize all your images for the web. You can use heavy-duty image-editing software such as Adobe Photoshop, but there’s no need to bring out the big guns for something so simple. There are free tools designed specifically to optimize images for the web.
ImageOptim for Mac and FileOptimizer for Windows both do a fine job. ImageOptim also has a web-based alternative that works with any operating system. If you are publishing content with images on a regular basis, consider automating your image optimization. Cloudinary makes this easy and even has a free option that allows you to optimize up to 20,000 images per month.
Optimize for conversion.
As stated earlier, 40 percent of users in the Gomez and Abami survey would abandon a site that takes longer than three seconds to load. Just a few seconds of extra load time would have cost Amazon nearly $55 billion in net sales revenue, in 2016. Not only will speeding up your site improve your search rankings, it can have a dramatic effect on your conversion rates once a user visits your site.
A difference in load time of just 100 milliseconds can decrease conversion rates by up to 7 oercent. There is a direct correlation between load speeds and revenue. Based on multiple case studies, a site that makes $100,000 per day will see a $7,000 daily increase in sales when it improves page speed by just one second. When it comes to conversion rates, therefore, every second -- and millisecond -- counts.
Optimize for mobile.
Consumption of media on mobile devices increases every year. Users now spend, on average, 69 percent of their media time on smartphones. Yet many commercial websites still perform poorly on mobile. This is something that businesses cannot afford. Some 57 percent of consumers, according to Google’s Mobile Playbook, said they wouldn't recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site. If you’re not optimized for mobile, you’re missing out not only on conversions -- your business’s very reputation could be at risk.
Luckily, there are many solutions! Popular platforms such as Shopify and WordPress offer a wide variety of responsive themes. Responsive web design enables pages to adapt to a wide variety of screen sizes and devices. Google (once again) offers a free tool to test how well your site performs on mobile.
Another option to consider is building a mobile app for your business. Some 46 percent of consumers, according to a study by ComScore, said they were less likely to shop around for other options when they use a company’s mobile app. Buildfire enables users to build branded apps for both iOs and Android without requiring any knowledge or experience of coding.
Search engine optimization
Page-load speed is just one of the hundreds of factors that Google’s search algorithm takes into account when determining the ranking for its search engine results pages (SERP). Though Google does not release the exact details of how it ranks search results, it's been estimated that optimizing the speed of your site could improve your business’ SERP ranking by up to two places.
This can be the difference between ranking on the first page of results rather than the second. It's also likely to have a significant positive impact on your volume of organic traffic. In fact, many bloggers and affiliate marketers attribute a significant portion of their continued success to their SEO strategy. Trish Lindemood, from KitchenBloggers.com, for example, told me she's built a highly successful consulting website for food and lifestyle blogs and attributes her success to the daily, consistent work she did on the site to make it rank well and convert traffic.
Be aware, though, that having high-quality, relevant, keyword-optimized content and other factors such as back links will have more impact on your SERP ranking than site speed alone. The most compelling argument for optimizing your site performance is the effect it has on conversion rates rather than purely for SEO purposes.
In short, optimizing the speed of your website is one of the most important things you can do to increase conversion rates, drive traffic and keep your site customers satisfied once they do convert. We strongly recommend that you take immediate advantage of the free website audit tools listed above to make sure your site is operating at peak performance. When it comes to website performance, time truly is money.