When we think of digital marketing performance and the key metrics for measuring this, website speed often ends up pretty far down the list. This is understandable – after, all we’ve got far bigger fish to fry, such as conversion rates, user navigation, and search engine optimisation.
Understandable, perhaps, but this approach is a dangerous one. You see, website speed is, in fact, a crucial metric and a vital performance factor.
To understand exactly why site speed is important, you need to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Your customers visit your website with a purpose in mind. Perhaps they want to make a purchase, gain further information on a product, or connect with support. So, what happens when the web page does not open in time or when the site is generally sluggish and slow to respond? Well, they get frustrated – and when they get frustrated, they head elsewhere. It all comes down to experience. User experience, or UX, is one of the key battlegrounds in modern digital marketing, and you need to be doing your utmost to provide this.
If your website is not fast enough, the experience suffers.
How fast should a website load?
There is no upper limit for website loading speed – your aim should be to make your page load as quickly as possible. However, there are some benchmarks that can help you along the way:
- In 2019, the average loading speed for a web page was 10.3 seconds on a desktop and 27.3 seconds on mobile.
- But many customers do not accept this. Research from 2017 found that over half of page visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than 3 seconds to load. This is up from 40% in 2006, demonstrating how customers are growing less patient.
- In 2018, only 2% of marketing landing pages clocked in at below 3 seconds, while only 13% achieved Google’s recommendation of 5 seconds. This gives swift-loading pages the chance to achieve a serious advantage over competitors.
Why is site speed so important?
There are a number of factors that make site loading speeds critical to your business’s future.
- User experience and conversion – As discussed above, your users do not want to wait around for a page to load. They are likely to be put off and to head elsewhere, which means reduced conversions and a poor ROI for your digital marketing and web development.
- Search engine optimisation – If a user does not wait for a page to load and heads elsewhere, they will be considered to have “bounced.” A high bounce rate will harm your page’s performance in Google’s search engine results. In addition to this, Google has been using site speed as a ranking factor in its algorithms in its own right for several years now.
- Consumer trust – A slow-to-load page does not exactly fill your customer full of confidence. If your pages are not loading swiftly, your users will begin to compare you with your competitors. And these comparisons will not be favourable.
- Brand reputation and broader reliability – You cannot assume that your customers will view a slow page loading time in isolation. Instead, it is likely that they will view this failure as a reflection on your business as a whole and begin to view your company as unreliable. What’s more, they may share this bad experience with other people. Thirteen per cent of users will share a bad experience with 15 or more people, while only 1 in 26 will actually inform you of the nature of their complaint. This is why it’s so important to check website speeds – you can’t rely on users to do it for you.
Common site speed issues
There are many reasons for slow website loading times. Let’s examine a few of the most common:
- Lack of a Content Delivery Network (CDN) – A CDN is a collection of distributed servers that work in unison to deliver content to the browser and optimise the loading time of the page. If this is not in place, the loading time may suffer.
- No CSS Optimisation – CSS stands for cascading style sheet, and this is the computing language that formats the layout of your web pages as they load in the browser. If CSS is not optimised, your page will not load as quickly as it should.
- Caching issues – The cache stores files from previously visited web pages, and it is intended to optimise the user’s experience. However, problems with the way your site is cached in the visitor’s browser can have an adverse effect on page load times.
- Overlarge media files – Large media files take a long time to download and to send. So it makes sense that these media files would also make it difficult for a page to load quickly.
- Unwieldy code – If your coding is not streamlined and efficient, it is not going to load at an optimal speed.
How to fix the most common site speed problems
In most cases, your site is slow to load because of a technical issue, often buried within your website’s code. This can make it difficult to put right unless you have a professional-level understanding of coding and website modification. The best way to fix these issues is to call on an expert – someone who has the knowledge and the capability required to modify your code in the right way. This expert will be able to identify the problems within your site’s structure and within the coding that supports it and then put this right. Tinkering with your website’s code can be seriously detrimental to the health of your page, and it’s very important that you leave this to a professional web maintenance company.
Optimising your page loading times without the risk
If you are looking to optimise your page loading time, you need to do so in a way that protects the core functionality of your site. Reach out to an experienced web developer who can help you with the technical aspects of speed optimisation without putting your crucial coding at risk.