Is Your Website’s Loading Speed Driving Customers Away?

Is Your Website’s Loading Speed
Driving Customers Away?

How often have you gone onto the internet, and the page has been lagging so much that you have clicked the back button and gone to a different website to get the information you are looking for? 

When was the last time you checked your business website’s speed and looked at it from your customer’s point of view? 

Not only are slow loading speeds extremely annoying to the viewer, but slow loading speeds of your website also significantly impact both user experience and Google rankings (where you appear on search engines), both of which are intertwined. 

Here’s how slow loading speed impacts your website (and your sales) and what you can do about it: 

User Experience Impact

If your website is taking a lifetime to load, then you will undoubtedly experience a higher bounce rate; this is where a viewer clicks away from your website before taking any further action on your website, such as scrolling, clicking or viewing another page – leapfrogging from your site to another. If a website takes longer than 3 seconds to load, 40% of viewers will abandon it and jump to another website. This increases your bounce rate, negatively affecting user engagement.

When the website takes ages to load, the user gets frustrated and angry, blood starts to boil, and stress hormones are released (or is that just me needing a coffee?). It gives your viewer a poor perception of your brand and decreases satisfaction on the first instance of an interaction with your company. It’s not a great first impression.

Google prioritises mobile-friendly websites (mobile-first index), ranking sites with a fast-loading responsive website higher in Search Engines than those without a website which can be used on a smartphone, as it perceives this as a more excellent user experience for those with mobile devices accessing the internet. Another reason for you is to ensure your website is fully responsive.

Slow loading speeds of your website, which result in higher bounce rates, frustrated customers, or poor rankings, directly impact your pocket, with lower conversion rates and fewer sales. It is estimated that for each second your website takes to load, conversion rates drop by 11%

Google Rankings Impact

The Google algorithm determines where a website ranks against other websites in search engine results and is forever evolving and adapting to changes in user behaviour, technology, and web content. In a nutshell (and without going off-topic), the key factors taken into account are: 

1.   Relevance of Content: Google aims to deliver results that match the user’s query. Content relevance, including keywords, user intent, and context, plays a crucial role.

2.   Quality of Content: High-quality, authoritative, and comprehensive content ranks better. Factors include originality, depth, accuracy, and usefulness to the user.

3.   Backlinks: Inbound links from authoritative and relevant websites signal trust and authority to Google, influencing rankings.

4.   User Experience (UX): Google emphasises providing a positive user experience. Factors like mobile-friendliness (mobile-first index), page loading speed, ease of navigation, and low bounce rates contribute to better rankings.

5.   Page Load Speed: Websites that load faster are favoured. Google prioritises sites offering a smoother user experience.

6.   Technical SEO: Proper website structure, use of metadata (titles, descriptions), clean URL structures, schema markup, and optimised images contribute to better rankings.

7.   Security: HTTPS encryption and secure browsing are favoured by Google, enhancing user safety and trust.

8.   Local SEO: For location-based queries, factors like Google My Business listings, local citations, and relevance to the user’s location impact rankings.

9.   User Behaviour Signals: Click-through rates (CTR), dwell time (time spent on a page), bounce rates, and other engagement metrics can influence rankings, indicating content quality and relevance.

10. Algorithm Updates: Google continually updates its algorithms, such as Core Updates, to refine and improve search results. These updates might impact rankings based on specific criteria changes.

11. Structured Data: Using structured data markup helps Google better understand and display information from web pages, potentially enhancing visibility in rich or featured snippets.

12. Social Signals: While debated, social media presence and engagement might indirectly impact rankings by influencing brand visibility and traffic.

As you can see from the above, page load speed is critical for mobile devices and all devices and screen sizes. Ensure your website’s SEO is up to scratch to have a more significant impact where you appear in the list of search queries. 

We all love random statistics – so here’s a couple for you

– 47% of consumers expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or less. (Source: Akamai)

– A 1-second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. (Source: Neil Patel)

– 53% of mobile site visitors leave a page that takes longer than 3 seconds to load. (Source: Google)

– Google’s Page Experience Update: Load time is a critical factor in Core Web Vitals, impacting rankings.

Tips to Improve Website Speed:

1. Optimise Images: Compress images without compromising quality to reduce their size. Use Webp image formats rather than JPEG and PNG formats on your website, as this reduces file sizes whilst maintaining image quality. You can convert your images to Webp format easily and for free using online convertors such as Bulk Resize or using trusted plugins for your website such as Smush and ShortPixel – here’s a list of the top 10 image optimisation plugins for WordPress.

2. Minimise HTTP Requests: When you open a website, your internet browser must first locate where the website is stored, extract the files before opening and reading the website files and decode them before displaying the website on your screen, all of which takes time even if it seems instantaneous for you. The more items and files your browser has to read before displaying the site on your page, the longer it takes.

3. Enable Browser Caching: You know that annoying cookie warning you get on websites when it first loads? When you click accept, you allow your browser to store elements of the website you are visiting to store cookies on your computer, reducing load times for the next time you visit the website.

4. Use Content Delivery Networks (CDNs): CDNs distribute copies of your website content across servers worldwide, making the distance from a user’s browser to where your website files are stored shorter, speeding up loading times for global users. Think of a business located in Chesterfield, Derbyshire. Suppose a user from Australia wants to view their website. In that case, the browser in Australia must contact the file server in the UK, extract, read and decode the information before presenting it onto the screen in Australia. CDN stores a copy of the website files on multiple servers worldwide (including Australia). Hence, the browser only has to search as far as its nearest server rather than the one in the UK, speeding up content delivery.

5. Minimise Server Response Time: Are your servers up to scratch? Are they efficient and performing well? This is when you need to look at where your website is hosted. Many hosting companies offer differing levels of performance, some excellent some terrible. Always do your own research before choosing your hosting company. I recommend SiteGround for its superb performance, unbeatable customer service, and value for when things go wrong. Here’s my affiliate link where you can get superb, top-notch hosting at a special discounted price.

The above is just a fraction of the improvements you can implement to enhance your website load speed, improve the user experience when visiting your site, and, most importantly, get better listing rankings in search engines like Google.

Remember, optimising website speed is an ongoing process. Regularly monitor your site’s performance and make adjustments as needed to maintain optimal speed and user experience, and that’s where Twisted Spire can help. Call us; we can help you get a much faster website and boost your rankings.

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