Humans are an impatient lot. We don’t like waiting longer than necessary for anything – whether that’s food, a bus or for someone to get out of the shower. In the digital world, websites are no exception. We’ve all been there – trying in vain to complete a purchase or find some information on a website, only to become incredibly frustrated at how long it’s taking and unceremoniously closing the browser tab or locking your phone.
Now, pull yourself out of consumer mode and back into business mode. Are customers leaving your website because they’re fed up of waiting? That’d be a bit devastating, no?
Never fear – I’m here to point you in the right direction of making sure this isn’t happening. And if the thought of potential customers getting fed up of staring at loading website isn’t enough to scare you, I’m throwing in a few more reasons why you should care about website speed optimisation.
Website speed optimisation – why you should care
Ok, so we’ve covered the first BIG reason why you should care about optimising the speed of your website – because you don’t want to keep people waiting. According to a survey by Google, 46% of people say waiting for pages to load is what they dislike most about browsing the web on desktop and mobile. A study by Pingdom (who we’ll get on to later) revealed that for pages with a loading time of less than 2 seconds, the average bounce rate is just 9%. 5 seconds of loading time and that shot up to a whopping 38%. Count 5 seconds, it’s not long. I could continue to throw an inordinate amount of stats at you about the effects loading speed has on website engagement, conversion rate and bounce rate, but you get the picture. Slow is bad. Fast is good. And I’m sorry to break it to you but in the world of websites, 5 seconds ain’t that fast.
Another very good reason why optimising your website’s speed should absolutely be on your list of very-important-things-to-do-today is Google uses this as a ranking factor. Remember me banging about ranking factors in other blog posts? Also sometimes referred to as “ranking signals”, they’re the things that Google looks at on and around your website to determine how high it should rank you for a keyword. A hefty sized webpage which is slow to load is not something Google wants to push in front of its users. Google’s bots are continually crawling your website, and if they find something they don’t like, hasta la vista rankings.
So, we’ve covered why you should sit up and pay attention when us SEO folk ramble on about website speed – but what are you supposed to do about it, you ask?
Your first port of call is to check if there’s a problem. Obviously, sometimes it’ll be plainly obviously that there’s a speed issue – when you yourself are getting sick of sitting waiting for website to load. As I mentioned earlier though, what you think is slow or fast might not match with your customers, and even if you think it’s super speedy, chances are – Google doesn’t.
Luckily, this is one area where Google are quite helpful and a little less cloak and dagger about things. Get yourself over to Page Speed Insights – Google’s developer resource for checking page load speeds. Stick your URL in and analyse away. You’ll be given a score out of 100 for both mobile and desktop. Google really wants you to be aiming in the 90-100 range – anything below that is average. Anything below 50 is slow.
Anyway, the meaty information you want is at the bottom. If you scroll down, you should “Opportunities” and “Diagnostics”.
Opportunities is a list of suggested changes that could improve your load speed and an estimated amount of seconds you’ll save. If you don’t understand any of the words in the above screenshot, don’t worry, a developer will be able to help.
The Diagnostics section includes some more in-depth detail on the loading speed and performance of various aspects of the page. I don’t understand most of this, so definitely recruit a developer to review the results and apply where possible to your website.
All you really need to know is that speed is usually comprised of a number of things – server response time (how long your web server takes to respond to request for load), the size of the resources being loaded (images, video, script) and the way in which the code is structured and the various elements are loaded. If you and your trusty developer can optimise as many of these aspects as possible, you’re on the way to a great user experience and a happy Google bot.
Go next level
If you – or your developer – want to get a bit more in-depth on how long it’s taking various elements of your page to respond and load, you can use a tool like Pingdom. Just like Pagespeed Insights, you pop in the URL you want to analyse and let it do its thing. Pingdom gives you a grade, from A-F, and details how long your page takes to load and how big it is in megabytes. It also gives you some suggestions for improvements. here may be some crossover with Pagespeed Insights, but it can be useful to check both tools for as much information as possible.
Pingdom is also handy as it gives you a breakdown of size and number of requests by content type – meaning you can prioritise streamlining those aspects that are taking the most time to load – for example images, script or CSS.
So there you have it now you know why it’s important to consider and stay on top of website speed, and how to tackle your issues (if you have any).
If you would like any more help or advice on how to optimise your website’s speed and performance – get in touch. We’ve seen numerous clients get great results, and quickly, through simply fixing and optimising a couple of things on their website. You’d be amazed.