Website load time refers to how long it takes any of your pages to appear on the screen along with all the components like text, images, or videos. It depends on numerous factors you have to consider while building a website, but it all comes down to one thing – the longer it takes to load, the more you are likely to lose potential customers.
It became even more important when Google started to prioritize mobile page speed. Now, you also need a mobile-optimized website that will load as fast as its desktop counterpart. It doesn’t matter if you work with an SEO professional, a lead generation agency, a digital marketing company, or a web designer – everyone will have you focused on this aspect at some point.
If you’re still not entirely convinced why you should count every millisecond of your website’s load time, you will find some more detailed arguments below.
Page Speed Significantly Influences User Experience
No matter what kind of website you have, you should always be focused on the user experience (UX). The reason why people visit websites is to find the product they want, the solution they look for, or to complete a certain action. A slow-loading website is frustrating, to say the least.
In this day and age, when people have literally unlimited access to content and can get any information they need within a couple of seconds, they are unlikely to wait even a little bit more. Most users would rather abandon your page if it takes too long to load and the information is not readily available. According to KISSmetrics, almost half of consumers want a website to load in under 2 seconds.
Engagement is a crucial aspect of customer relationship management, and if a potential customer leaves your website without even seeing what you have to offer, you’ll never be able to convince them to return. What’s more, they might complain about this to their family and friends, or even leave you a bad review if they get really frustrated, which could have a seriously negative impact on your business.
Page Speed Influences Conversion Rates
This one is closely connected to the previous point, but it’s crucial to dwell on the topic a bit longer as the first five seconds of your website’s loading time have the highest impact on your conversion rates.
Lead generation is all about attracting potential customers into your sales funnel so you can provide them with the best possible service and ultimately close the deal. You need to capture leads from various sources and convert them into customers over time. If you want to generate leads successfully, you need to work on improving the overall customer experience.
If the content on your website loads too slow, users may simply leave it without even looking at what you offer, making your bounce rate skyrocket. The KISSmetrics study cited above also says that loading time taking even a second longer than 2 can decrease your conversion rates by 7%. This way, you’ll miss out on the opportunity to convince a potential customer to, for example, make a purchase or schedule a consultation.
At the same time, even if you manage to engage them, a slow-loading website can significantly lower their satisfaction with the purchasing process, or even make them abandon it halfway through. This dissatisfaction could lead to negative reviews, negative word-of-mouth, or a complete loss of interest in your products and services.
Page Speed Can Affect Your Rankings in Search Engines
SEO involve a set of strategies and tactics aimed at improving search engine rankings. One of the most important factors influencing your rankings is its performance. Google has been working hard on improving their search algorithm for years now.
Currently, Google is already well-known for its strict ranking algorithm, and page speed is one of the factors that can negatively affect your website’s rankings in search results. If your website takes a long time to load, Google may assume that it’s poorly optimized, which will result in a lower position in search results. And it’s not only about user experience – fast-loading websites are simply easier to crawl and index.
If you don’t want your website to lose rankings when Google updates its ranking algorithm, you need to start thinking about the importance of page speed and how to improve it. It doesn’t matter if you are a local business with only a few potential customers nearby or an online store that sells products worldwide – Google will still take page speed into consideration.
The Future Is Mobile
It’s true that desktop traffic will still be relevant for years to come – there are and will be those who prefer to browse the internet from their desktops, especially when it comes to looking for information, products, or services.
However, the generation that prefers to do everything on-the-go is growing and will keep doing so. More and more people are browsing the internet from their smartphones or tablets (mobile users account for a little over 50% of all internet users), and this is not a trend that will go away any time soon. And you can’t achieve satisfying mobile page speed if its desktop counterpart is too slow. If your landing pages take too long to load for mobile devices, you could lose conversions and thus potential customers.
Google has already recognized the trend, announcing mobile-first indexing, which means that it will prioritize your website’s mobile version when determining how to rank it.
Not to mention that it can give you an incredible advantage, considering the average mobile website load time is over 15 seconds.
What Affects Page Speed?
There are numerous factors that can lead to a slow-loading website, including:
- Your server. It can’t handle the number of requests coming from your website and slows down the loading process.
- Page weight. The more elements you have on a page, the heavier it is. That’s why you need to optimize the number of images and videos you use and reduce the size of all the components.
- Internet connection. Of course, you have no control over the quality of the internet connection of other users, but you can try to optimize the website for slow internet with techniques like minification or compression.
- Coding standard. You could have an HTML coding standard that doesn’t take into account your website’s speed, which can result in unnecessary code on the website. Make sure you work with a developer who knows how to optimize your website.
- Excess of plugins or widgets. You could have too many plugins or widgets installed on your website. Some third-party tools – for example, analytics or social media plugins – can slow ot down. It’s better to choose a lightweight alternative.
- Hosting company. The hosting company could be the problem as well, so you might want to switch to another one if it’s not up to standard.
- Browser compatibility issues. Your website could be incompatible with certain browsers and cause delays in page loading.
- Hotlinking. There is a possibility that people could hotlink your images, so you should make sure they are served from a different domain to avoid unnecessary delays in loading.
- No browser caching. Without browser caching, a server has to send a new version of the website every time a user visits it.
These are just some possible reasons why your website might be slow-loading. There are numerous others that you need to take into account when trying to optimize your website’s load time. But what really matters is that no matter what you do, you need to focus on all of these things in order to achieve satisfactory results.
The Bottom Line
No matter how much effort you put into content creation, optimization, and promotion, it’s all for nothing if your target audience can’t access your website within a reasonable amount of time. All those potential customers will inevitably hit the “back” button on their browser and never return.
A slow-loading website can also significantly decrease your conversion rates, which is a serious threat to your business both in terms of lost profits and in terms of overall brand value. So, if you really want to stay ahead of your competitors and improve the customer experience, you need to conduct a thorough audit of your website’s speed.
Page speed is an important aspect of your website that shouldn’t be neglected at any cost – you can always work with a professional to find the best solution for your company. Every second can make a difference in the success of your business, so don’t waste it on slow loading websites.