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Brand User

Fri, Dec 6, 2019 4:33 PM

Why Load Time Is Important

Most people today are impatient. No, I'm not being judgmental (or even necessarily negative), but it's true. Everything in our life is getting faster. Online grocery ordering and delivery so you don't have to waste time going to a store, online money transfers and even cashing checks via your phone camera to save you a trip to the bank, food delivery so you don't have to waste time cooking or going to get food. We want to get instant gratification. The days of people waiting for a website to load bit by bit are over. Most people no longer use dial-up Internet connections. I personally pay for almost a gigabit of max download speed. Do I need it? Probably not, but I like fast internet. And I'm not the only one. 
What this means for you and your website is that you need to make sure your website is delivering your content without making people wait. 

Site Speed vs Page Speed

These two phrases are typically used interchangeably, but they are slightly different. Although they both impact conversions and customer experience, they have different attributes. 
Site speed refers to the speed at which your site loads as visitors click through it. This can encompass buttons on your website, the navigation menu, shopping carts, and it does include average page speed. 
Page speed is the load time for a specific page on your website. You could have one page that isn't optimized and has a slow load time, but the rest of your website is quick and seamless. In this case, you would have a good site speed score, but a low page load time for that specific page. 

WHY Does It Matter?
Making people wait to view your site equals loss of revenue, higher bounce rates, and lower ranking.
For every second it takes your site to load, you are losing traffic. This will increase your bounce rate and decrease the average time spent on your site. One study found that if a website takes longer than 3 seconds to load, 40% of the visitors will abandon the page. With those numbers, imagine an eCommerce website that has a conversion rate of 3%. If they have 1000 site visitors per day, they should have 30 customers. Then, consider that this site takes longer than 3 seconds to load. That 40% bounce rate now equals 400 lost visitors and potential customers. This means that they only have 600 people actually stay on their website. That 3% conversion rate now only yields 18 customers. Over the course of a year, consider the loss of revenue that this limitation will produce. 
Another point to consider is the customer experience. This is one of the strongest focal points for online business today. Considering the earlier point that people today are less inclined to wait than they used to be, having a slow loading website is a terrible first impression and can lend the impression that your business is outdated and not reliable. A speedy website equals efficiency and trustworthiness. 
Lastly, site speed can affect your SEO ranking in more than one way. For one, Google takes site speed into account when it comes to ranking. It isn't a major factor, but considering how serious Google is about customer experience, it is no surprise that it is an influence. Additionally, bots only have a certain amount of time to crawl each site. If your site takes several seconds to load each page, then that means the bots are able to crawl fewer pages. This means that they may miss important updates on your site because they couldn't get through your website quickly enough. Finally, Google will send bots to crawl your site less often if your websites time to first byte (how long it takes the browser to receive the first byte of info from server) is too slow. This means that your site will be updated less often in search engines, which will also affect your ranking.

HOW To Accomplish It?
There are several relatively simple steps you can take to improve your page speed. It is recommended to optimize your most popular and important pages first, but generally, all pages should be improved as much as possible. If all of your pages load time is decreased, your overall site speed will improve.
  • Optimize Images- Reduce your image files to the smallest possible size to not compromise your image quality. Also, make sure to use the correct file types for your images. PNGs are generally better for graphics, logos, line art. JPEGs are generally better for photographs and they use lossy compression when they are uploaded. This means an unnoticeable amount of data is lost, which makes the image file smaller and easier to load. 
  • Remove Excessive Images- Images take longer to load than most elements on a website. Page visitors typically will not spend the time to scroll through hundreds of images on one page anyway, so adding all of them is typically unnecessary. Instead, pick and display only the best images you want to highlight. 
  • Remove Unnecessary HTML- You can create text boxes with fancy fonts or other elements via HTML, but this may take longer to load than using the elements that are already available in your builder. 
  • Reduce Redirects- The more a page has to redirect (http to https, domains redirecting to other domains, vanity URLS), the longer it will take to load. Make this as simple as possible.
  • Don't Crowd Your Site- Filling every available space on your website with design elements, gifs, graphics, or anything else will increase the amount that has to load when your site is visited. Some empty space on your website is ok when the alternative is a slow page load. 
  • Optimize Mobile Pages- Make sure your site is mobile responsive. If a mobile phone has to load a desktop page, this can take longer than if the page was already edited to work on mobile devices. Images are smaller, navigation menus are simpler, and elements that aren't actually needed are removed on mobile sites.  
  • Outsource Video Hosting- Use external hosting like Youtube or Vimeo for large files like videos. When you host videos on your own server, they take up an outrageous amount of space. Video files can easily take up over 100MB. Especially on shared servers, this can slow things down considerably, especially if you have multiple site visitors at once trying to load that video. Instead, upload the video to a video sharing platform, and simply embed it on your website. 


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