This article is part of Hosting: A Buyer’s Guide, a series on finding the right web hosting for your business.full course
Having a fast loading website should be a top priority for any business, for two main reasons. One is the positive impact it can have on user engagement with your website, and, conversely, the negative impact a slow loading site can have. The second reason is the effect page load times can have on your website’s position in search engines like Google.
Today we will take a look at the impact of site speed on your business, and some of the causes of a slow loading website, as well as what you can do to decrease page load times and reap the rewards of a fast loading website.
The statistics on user engagement and site speed are more dramatic than you might have thought.
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that websites with slow-loading pages and content can be off-putting to visitors. However, the statistics on user engagement and site speed are more dramatic than you might have thought.
During testing of the way they display search results, Google found that a half-second increase in the time it took the search engine to display results caused a 20% drop in traffic among test participants.
For eCommerce websites and online stores, the impact of slow page loads can be even more severe. Amazon reportedly found that a 100-millisecond delay in the time it takes their pages to load could lead to a 1% drop in revenue. When you are Amazon and your annual revenue for last year was $74.5B, that 1% would make a real impact.
The websites for household names such as Google and Amazon also receive some amount of goodwill from their visitors: people are using them because they value the service on offer, whether that is access to a huge marketplace of products, or good search query results. Who is to say a visitor arriving at your site for the first time will be as forgiving when confronted with a slow-loading page?
If your site isn’t loading quickly, you risk turning away potential customers before they’ve even had a chance to get to know your business.
This means that if your site isn’t loading as quickly as it could be, you are running the risk of turning away potential customers and clients, before they’ve even had a chance to get to know your business.
Impact on Search Engine Rankings
Google now uses site speed data in determining where to list your website in its search engine results.
The second reason why you should care about site speed is that Google now uses site speed data in determining where to list your website in its search engine results.
So a slow-loading website could be turning away visitors, but poor page load times could also be preventing potential visitors from finding their way to your site in the first place, thanks to its low ranking in search engine results.
Although this is only one of many factors Google takes into account when its algorithm evaluates a website, you should definitely focus on page speed as part of the search engine optimization (SEO) efforts for your website.
Doing all you can to optimize your site to improve its position in Google’s rankings can be an effective way to increase visitors, and therefore customers and end users. While many of Google’s metrics for evaluating sites (such as relevance, quality, and authority) can seem subjective, site speed is a tangible variable where improvements can be measured.
What Might Be Slowing Down Your Website
The company your website is hosted with and the package you have chosen can have a major impact on its performance.
One of the main reasons your website might not be loading as quickly as it could be is your web host. The company your website is hosted with and the package you have chosen can have a major impact on its performance.
Before you choose a web host, you need to be aware of its reputation for performance. You also need to understand the different types of web hosting available, and which is the best option for your website.
Poor Website Design
many otherwise well-built WordPress themes are among the slowest sites out there.
Another factor can be poor website design. A badly built website can negatively impact page load times, and WordPress themes are no exception. Far from it, in fact: many otherwise well-built WordPress themes are among the slowest sites out there because of the huge volume of code they execute and database requests they make on each page load. The number and type of plugins that are active on your WordPress site can also take a substantial toll.
Large image and other media files can also increase the time it takes for a web page to load. Our post on commonsense image sizing in WordPress is highly recommended reading.
Some Helpful Tools
Thankfully there are some online tools that can help you assess the loading times of your site, discover which aspects are causing problems, and even receive advice on fixes.
These free online tools can check and let you know if there are any areas of your site that could be improved to decrease loading times:
Site speed has a proven effect on how long visitors will spend on your site, which in turn affects how effective your site is at converting visitors into customers. Furthermore, search engines such as Google take this measurement into consideration when evaluating your site for placement in search engine rankings. For both reasons, improving site speed is the right move for your business.
By ensuring your web site is well-designed, not using overlarge media files, and hosted with a suitable web host on the right type of hosting package, you can help overcome any site speed issues your website is experiencing.