If you are like the majority of web users, then you probably are used to receiving web results instantly. But, if those results do not display as quickly as your expectation, then what do you do? Do you wait for the page to load or do you frantically hit the back button to exit the page?
According to analysts, most web users begin abandoning the website they have just attempted to view. The longer the load time the more likely a web user is to “bounce” from a page.
For business owners, this is detrimental to the overall goal of your website: to capture leads and convert shoppers into customers.
What is a Website Bounce Rate?
Your website bounce rate increases as more visitors leave your website from the page they entered before clicking to any additional pages.
Even if your website exactly matches a keyword search from a consumer, having a bounce rate that is higher than the norm can tell Google that your website is not what consumers are looking for, and therefore drop your site in favor of one that meets the consumer needs.
If you aren’t familiar with the ranking factors Google uses to determine the best search result for a query, then take a look at “Why is My Website Not Ranking in Google?” for some additional insight.
- Nearly 50% of users expect a load time of 2 seconds or less.
- If a website loading exceeds more than 3 seconds, then you can expect roughly 40% of your web traffic to leave.
- Customer satisfaction reduces significantly during web page loading delays.
How to Tell if You are Losing Customers
The best way to know if you are losing customers and to keep track of your user engagement on the website is to review your website analytics. By following the data, a website administrator can determine what source of traffic is likely to convert, which segment of traffic is unqualified and so much more. Analytics is a virtual must have to keep track of your website’s performance.
The most common analytics service is through Google. Installing your analytics tracking code is not too difficult, but a review of how to set up your Google Analytics tracking will be helpful.
Look at Page Speed Analytics in Google Analytics
Once your website has analytics tracking set up properly, you can begin crunching data. Take some time to review your Site Speed under the Behavior tab. Begin in the Overview section and work through the numbers to see if your load time and lookup time are where they should be.
The Importance of Speed for SEO, Search Ranking, and User Experience
Website page loading speed is crucial as for at least three reasons.
- Any website that Google recognizes to have a high “bounce” rate can find themselves disappearing from the search rankings due to relevancy issues.
- Slow loading speeds deter users from staying and engaging your website. Google is all about customer satisfaction, and any website that delivers poor performance can be sure to drop in ranking.
- Any web user that leaves your website is a lost sale. There is only have a brief opportunity to make an impression on a website visitor and a slow loading website will likely end any chance to convert the visitor into a sale.
Run a Speed Test
There are a lot of great speed test tools available but, there are a few that seem to perform better than others, provide different metrics and visual cue’s to help improve your website performance. A speed test tool can provide suggestions and tips to help improve performance.
Google Page Speed Insights
As you can see, Google’s Page Speed Insights is easy to navigate. Simply paste your website URL and select the Analyze button to submit your website for a speed test. Both a desktop and mobile analysis is present and provides easy to read details that can help improve your website performance. In this example, you can clearly see the difference in ESPN’s mobile and desktop performance.
In this example, Pingdom provides a simple dashboard that allows you to test from a specific location. The results are displayed below the query and provide details about current performance. Additional details that offer tips for improvement will be displayed below the performance stats.
The WebPageTest.org tool is unique compared to the previous examples. The drop down menus allow for you to test specific browsers and locations for website speed, so that you can test how your website performs across the web on different devices and servers. Additionally, the data delivered from the test is extremely comprehensive and may be more relevant to SEO professionals and individuals with a high level of experience with web design and digital marketing.
It is beneficial to use more than one tool to get the most accurate details about your website and to see which tool best suits your skill and comfort level.
Hosting Factors that Lead to a Slow Loading Website
Slow webpage loading times can be partly attributed to a server issue. The time it takes for a server to process and respond to a web user is known as server latency.
Here are some factors that contribute to increased server latency:
Location – Often, server latency can be attributed to the location of a website user and the location of the server.
For example, a user in the United Kingdom accessing a website with a server in San Jose, California should expect a slower return of information than a user located in Arizona accessing the same website. Try to choose a web host that is close to your target market. If you are a business on the East Coast providing service to local customers, then having your website hosted in California may not be the best idea. Check with your host provider to see if they have multiple servers or one location.
Performance – Slow servers will kill website speed REGARDLESS of how neat and tidy your website is designed. Settling for a low cost web host can be detrimental to your website load speed. Remember that you are sharing a server space with literally hundreds of other websites, and if the host’s server is sub-par then you may not get the performance you are expecting.
Traffic – A massive amount of web traffic is fantastic right? Not so fast! The more traffic that is visiting your website at one time will require more resources to successfully deliver the data to all the users. This will ultimately put a strain on the server and cause a reduction in data transmission, resulting in a slow loading web page.
Mobile vs Desktop
Mobile devices are now leading the charge on most internet searches. Even though mobile users are viewing websites through a smaller screen, they still expect the same speed and results they would receive on a desktop device. A key factor to improving mobile site speed and reducing lost customers is to implement a responsive design to your website.
This means that when a mobile user visits a responsive web page, the website recognizes the size of the browser window and renders the appropriate display to the user. This helps improve loading times and the users online experience.
What to Do Next?
After you have tested your website speed, improved your hosting, and reviewed your website’s mobile responsiveness, try these additional steps to get a faster load time and eliminate high bounce rates.
- Check image sizes. Optimize your images for the web by compressing them and removing any unnecessary data.
- Reduce redirects. This can slow down a loading web page if there are too many paths to take before landing on the correct page.
- Avoid excessive use of on page ads. Running multiple scripts on the page can reduce quality and slow down the loading speed.
- Add caching to improve load speed. Cookies help a webpage load faster by keeping certain data points on a browser that has previously visited the website.
- Reduce plugins. Too many plugins can slow a website to a crawl. Remember when it comes to plugins that less is more.
- Turn off Auto-play on videos. Few things can turn a website visitor into a website “exitor” faster than a video that plays as soon as the page loads.
Hopefully these tips and suggestions will help improve your website loading speed and improve the user experience for your website!