When it comes to retaining visitors to your webpage, the adage of “speed kills” certainly rings true. More notably, it’s the slow web page speed that kills a website, as well as the chances of anyone hoping to retain visitors there.
Google, Bing, and other search engines aim to speed up the web and deliver the most useful and relevant results to their users.
To take it a step further, Google has begun using web page speed as a rank consideration in its evaluation of search results ranking. If you consider that the majority of clicks go to the first 5 results rendered from a search query, it is easy to understand how many businesses would actively contend for a position at the top of the search results and seek ways to improve web page speed.
What Exactly Is Web Page Speed?
The term “web page speed” is quite simply the measurement of time that it takes a web page to load its content upon access. Many tools are available to check webpage speeds. These are fantastic methods to gauge how fast a website loads and begin the process of implementing methods to help speed it up.
These Tools include:
- Google’s Page Speed Insights: Provides not only information about page load speed, but also a set of step by step breakdown of how to go about making improvements. It also ranks the needed improvements as high, medium, or low priority, helping the user determine which changes will be most impactful on the load speed.
- Pingdom Page Speed: This tool is similar to Google’s in the sense of providing load speed data and steps to address, with Google likely being a bit more accurate as they are a major search engine that considers load speed for SEO purposes.
- WebPage Test: Allows you to measure load speed from different server locations and different devices.
- GTmetrix: Similar to other tools with featured automatic alerts to notify users once the load time has dropped below a particular threshold.
- YSlow: This add-on feature in the Firefox works in conjunction with Firebug to assign a grade to your site’s speed and provides insight on how to address any slow-load problems.
How Web Page Speed Can Affect A Business’s Website?
Some businesses don’t regard web page speed as a vital factor in the site operations and in doing so, degrade their main marketing tool’s efficacy. For a business, it’s not whether web page speed matters, it’s how much it does.
47% of visitors expect a load time of 2 seconds or less. If the load time is slower, they will leave in search of another option, which can be devastating to companies competing for business with many others. If the load times are over 3 seconds, roughly 40% of potential customers will seek their solutions elsewhere. As a rule of thumb, every additional second costs about 7% in conversions.
Long load times affect not only the ability to generate and convert leads, but sour the user experience, and hurt the business’s brand and credibility As mentioned earlier, page load speed is also an SEO ranking factor, so the business is hurt by pulling their attention away from prospective customers by pushing the site down the SEO rankings.
A slow website is a psychological indicator to a customer that the load time is somehow reflective of the company as a whole. Users will not bother filling out forms or sticking around on pages that are slow to load. This is especially impactful if the prospective customer abandoning the site is a first-time site visitor.
Many case studies have been published supporting these facts, so it is prudent that every business looks into ways to improve web page speed.
Ways To Improve Web Page Speed?
Luckily there are a myriad of methods that a business owner or a web development company can use to boost page speeds.
One of the biggest contributing factors to slowness is the need for the page to load a series of images. Ways to address this include using the appropriate image types like SVGs (Scalable Vector Graphics) which are light weight and as the name suggests they are Scalable and best for illustrations. PNGs tend to be more suited for graphics while JPEGs are better for photographs.
When figuring out the page layout, you may find that some images would be better if they are resized. Smaller size can reduce that image’s load time. For one image that increases in efficiency is nominal, but doing that to multiple images makes a measurable difference. The image dimensions can be defined in the HTML code, or alternatively, their size can be reduced without quality loss by compressing them with tools like Smush plugin in WordPress.
Minimizing code, even comments that have nothing to do with rendering can dramatically improve load times. This includes the removal of potentially unnecessary syntax like commas, spaces, and other unneeded characters for a more optimized set of code.
Improve Server Response Time
Load time correlates directly to the resource levels a page uses, the hosting solution, the server’s software, and traffic volume. To reduce load times, consider looking at bottlenecks in performance often caused by a lack of sufficient memory, slow database queries, and slow routing. The ultimate fix to these issues may be to measure your potential web hosting solutions response time to your site. Switching hosts is somewhat timely and not ideal but could prove invaluable in the long run.
Use A Content Delivery Network
Content delivery network (CDN) use can be helpful for more global improvement in their load times and user experience. The basic premise is that the site’s content is stored in several geographical diverse data center locations, allowing users from the globe to retrieve the content from the one that is most proximate to their geographic location to decrease load times. This method saves up to 60% in bandwidth and reduces the number of requests to your content the site makes by half.
Leverage Browser Caching
A lot of site information is cached by browsers. When a user returns to your site, they don’t need to wait on everything to reload as if it is a first-time visit, because the information will already be retained for them. You can use the earlier noted YSlow or GTMatrix tool to figure out your caching expiration date, and then reset your caching expiration for a lengthier period. This is especially useful if your site does not change frequently, allowing any subsequent visits to drastically improve in load times. The browser will only pull a specific file from the web app server if it is not yet cached or if the caching expiration for the file has expired.
Reduce calls to anything that does not strictly need to be called. As the number of actions and requests is reduced, the load time is improved across the board. Every redirect in a potential series of them slows down the load times just a little bit more, so minimizing how much that is done could dramatically affect load times.
Looking into methods to reduce web page load latency is crucial not just for sites accessed by PCs. Over half of browsing users get to a websites using mobile devices. A site should be optimized for load times with both platforms to assure visitor retention and mitigate the loss of conversions.