Why Does Page Speed Matter?
Research shows that roughly 47% of consumers expect a website to load in two seconds or less. If your website doesn’t load in at least three seconds, 40% of your site’s visitors will move on to another site. This affects your bounce rates, individual page views, and ultimately, conversions.
Page speed is a visitor’s first impression of your website. Before you can dazzle them with your brilliant logo or witty taglines, they must sit and wait for your page to load. As anyone can attest, excessive wait times are frustrating. A long wait time can leave a bad taste in a visitor’s mouth before they’ve even set eyes on your site or the products or services you provide.
Why Is Page Speed Important?
Page speed is important for several reasons, most of which are common sense. One of the most important reasons for having faster page speeds is the user experience. You need users to find the information, services, or products you provide as quickly as possible lest they lose interest and move on to another site. Your site must reflect the level of quality your company provides and convey the sort of innovation your business can bring to your particular markets.
While much of this may come off similar to the obsessive business card comparison habits of Patrick Bateman, what it is really pointing to is the idea of speed itself. More specifically, the speed at which your website is able to relay information. The faster your page loads, the quicker users get the information they want. Therefore, the less time between those two points, the more sound – and more trustworthy – your website will appear.
Contrary to popular belief, page speed is not solely dependent upon what Google says it is. However, it does make sense that Google would want business owners to have their sites loading as fast as possible. Not only does it allow for tons of free, advantageous data, it also provides the search engine with free labor. In that, the less Google has to crawl, interpret, or “figure out” what your site is all about, the better it can organize and prioritize information for users that are looking for businesses like yours. This also is true for most any other competitively-based information.
What Issues Affect Page Speed?
How to improve your site’s page speed is a relatively simple concept – a metaphorical ‘tightening or loosening’ of particular elements of your site’s build in order to produce the most desired results. Not the best results – the most desired results. In terms of Search Engine Optimization, this means finding pain points within your website that you can fine tune in order to make the information, services, or products your business offers easily understandable for both humans and machines alike.
The “why” may seem more conceptual and arguably less important than the “how” regarding the optimization of a website’s page speed. However, when mulling over just what exactly to do about slow-loading pages, it is better to consider thoughtfully just what the issue is that would make a page load slowly in the first place. It truly is not enough to simply fall in line with what Google says and habitually chase every little recommendation or warning alert they send.
Common issues that impact a website’s page speed include:
1. Scripts by Third Parties
A third-party script can be used for a variety of purposes. It might be used to track visitor activity or display a map location. Although third-party scripts can be somewhat efficient, be aware that every time your site calls to remote servers to load scripts, it contributes to the overall load time of your page. Additionally, scripts such as Google Analytics and other prominent third-party scripts occasionally bottleneck during temporary surges in demand. When third-party scripts are bogged down, your website will lag as well.
2. Issues with CMS Plugins
A great benefit of using a platform like WordPress is that you can add extra functions and features with third-party plugins. This can help you cut down on development time and allow you to launch a new website quickly.
However, not all plugins are built equally. Free plugins are rarely updated to reflect changes on the internet. Older technologies and inefficient databases can affect page speed. Also, it is common to find that the more plugins you install, the slower your website will become.
3. Page Weight
As web pages increasingly include more multimedia content, the overall size of web pages continues to expand. Even if you run on a sufficient broadband connection, larger-sized pages can still take longer to load.
Page weight can be reduced in a number of ways, such as compressing images and using video streaming technology instead of loading video content completely. Every element of a webpage should be evaluated and optimized.
4. Poorly Performing Scripts
Page load time increases if your website makes excessive web server calls or utilizes multiple scripts at once. You can remedy this situation somewhat by selecting certain aspects, like videos, heavy images, and comment sections to trigger later, when the user is able to interact with them.
5. Inadequate Server Resources
A website that retrieves significant amounts of data from a back-end database or uses a lot of animation may experience issues with their servers. The cheapest ISPs often use shared hosting. This allows multiple sites to share certain resources like RAM and CPU power. If one website on the server experiences a big traffic spike, it can affect all other sites that use that shared platform, hindering script execution and database queries.
If your website routinely encounters resource issues, consider changing the web hosting agreement to increase your dedicated amount of disk space, RAM, and CPU power, or switching your ISP altogether.
6. Insufficient Bandwidth
Every element of your website impacts the level of bandwidth needed to send information to a user’s browser. If your server is functioning properly, determine if your broadband connection is capable of handling the current demand or if web requests are outstripping your ability to service the demand.
If bandwidth issues are slowing down your site, it may be necessary to upgrade the hosting agreement to increase your available capacity. Additionally, you may determine that your site’s bandwidth consumption should be lower, and your real problem is page weight.
User experience should be at the forefront of every website strategy you implement. It is important to identify issues and utilize every tool available to you to assess your website’s strengths and weaknesses. However, do not rely on page speed scores alone to evaluate your website’s performance. While a fast website should be a goal, it is just a small piece of a much larger picture.
Learn How Twelve Three Media Can Improve Your Website’s User Experience
Twelve Three Media is a full-service digital marketing and advertising agency that specializes in website design, SEO, Social media, PPC, brand development, and much more. Our team of marketing experts focuses on creating results-driven solutions that accomplish your objectives and build your business.
Ready to find out what is hurting your page speed and how to fix it? Contact us right now for a free, no-obligation report!