Imagine this. Your graphics are stellar, your content is compelling, and you offer exceptional products and services. Your customer service is top notch and you strive to offer clients the best experience possible. Before entering the market, you researched your target market and products that could appeal to them. So, what could be the problem? Could your website loading time be to blame?

Most people expect a site to load in not more than two seconds. Anything above two seconds is disastrous and the user will take their business elsewhere and not return. The implications of a slow website load time are enormous and businesses cannot afford them. You not only lose a sale but also deliver a bad customer experience. Therefore, businesses must invest in fast website speed no matter the cost.

How do search engines measure the speed of a website?

Search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing use different mechanisms to measure the speed of a website. Previously, it was unclear how and what Google uses to evaluate the speed of a website. It was believed that Googlebot was used to measure site speed. The notion was reinforced by the existence of speed charts in the Search Console. Googlebot replicates the way users experience a site.

Moz.com reports that Google is currently using data from the Chrome User Experience Report to measure website speed. The report uses data from real-world cases of Chrome users who have agreed to sync their browsing history and get their usage statistic reporting enabled. Google records the load time metrics for certain users. Along with the report, Google uses other undisclosed data sources.

Factors influencing website speed and how you can increase it

Connection speed

Your internet connection determines the speed of any website load. If you have slow internet connectivity, even a well-optimized website will take longer to load. So, always use high-speed internet to connect the net for fast website loading.

Web hosting

The web hosting company and the server your website is placed influence your website speed for visitors. A website will be sluggish if the host server is sluggish. Although many businesses opt for shared hosting because it is economical, it is not the best choice because it relies on shared resources and hence slowing your page. Choose a reliable web host who can keep up with the demand to optimize pages. You can use content distribution networks (CDNs) to ensure users have faster and more reliable access to your site.

File types and sizes

Many and large files sizes result in longer load times for a website. A website that has too many images has long load times. Hence, it is essential to optimize files to increase website speed. Although images, photos, and other graphics improve engagement, they are usually large files that compromise a website’s speed. It is advisable to keep images in the right format; PNGs for graphics and JPEGs for photographs.

Plugins

Although plugins are valuable features, they require more time to load and cause security issues. Too many plugins can dramatically slow your website speed. Hence, remove unnecessary plugins for optimal website performance.

Redirects

Website redirects are notorious for negatively affecting web performance. It is best practice to keep redirects minimal because they create additional HTTP requests that consume time.

Website design

The design of a website affects its speed. A complex design increases the number of HTTP requests a site makes in order to load and hence decreases load time. On the other hand, a simple web design reduces the number of HTTP requests and hence increases site speed and load time. Additionally, a simple website has a benefit of improving user experience because they can navigate through the site easily.

Benefits of fast website speed

A one-second delay in page load time has huge detrimental effects including:

  • Decrease conversion rates by 7%.
  • Reduce page views by 11%.
  • Results in financial losses. For example, a one-second delay in load time can cost Amazon $1.6 billion in sales.
  • Damaged reputation.

Fast website speed has immense benefits. Here are some of them.

1.   Higher ranks in organic search

A high-performance website ranks well for SEO. In fact, website speed is among the factors Google considers when ranking websites. A low performing website gets poor ranking because it does not optimize the user experience. Apart from speed, Google now considers responsiveness to all devices; desktop and mobile devices.

2.   Enhance customer experience

Your website speed makes the first impression for a visitor. When the speed is high, you make a good first impression but when the speed is poor, you give the visitor a bad impression. Regrettably, you may never get a second chance to make things right. Fast website speed gives customers a good experience at your site. Also, it increases customer satisfaction and boosts customer loyalty.

3.   Increase conversion rates

A good performing website has a high probability of getting high traffic and attracting qualified leads that can convert to customers. It increases the likelihood of customers doing what you want them to do like buying products, subscribing to newsletters and downloading an eBook. Improvement in website speed increases conversions significantly. For example, Wal-Mart witnesses a 2% increase in conversion when it improves its website load time by 1 second.

4.   Assure repeat business

When a website is fast, users are more likely to return. The opposite is also true; a slow website increases the bounce rate because customers are less likely to return to your site. 79% of shoppers are unlikely to buy again from a site with poor performance. With a high bounce rate, your visitors don’t convert and your sales suffer.

5.   Competitiveness

Fast website speed offers you an advantage over competitors. Customers may prefer your site over competitors with slow webpages.

In this fast-paced technology world, nobody likes slow things. Few things are more frustrating and annoying like a slow website. Consumers nowadays have many options at their disposal than ever before and hence do not have to wait for your website to take forever to load. If your site does not load is lightning-fast pace, they proceed to other speedier websites. It is best practice to test your current website speed so that you start your optimization journey.