Your blog is well-populated with quality articles that inform and educate without a hard sales pitch. Guest bloggers with passionate followers bring new traffic to your site and social influencers expand your reach. You’ve invested heavily in a beautiful new website design. And yet sales numbers are still declining, conversion rates are skimpy, and your bounce rate is atrocious. What is going on?
If you’re doing everything right and still fail to convert browsers to buyers and visitors to followers, then the answer might be sluggish website speed. Read on to find out why it’s so important to have a fast website.
The need for speed isn’t something new
Back in the ‘90s, research was already showing that web users had a short attention span. Almost 70 percent of respondents in a Pitkow and Kehoe survey reported that it “took too long to download web pages,” making speed the most widely-cited problem for ‘net surfers. As technology increases, so does the appetite for faster page loads. As the Neilson Norman Group puts it, “Web users want to get in and get out quickly.”
New research shows that 90 percent of visitors will leave a site if they have to wait more than ten seconds for it to load. According to content delivery network service provider CDNlion, optimum speed is no more than four seconds, though some studies suggest two seconds is closer to visitor expectations today. As amazing as it sounds, a couple of seconds can make the difference in keeping visitors on your website or driving traffic away at an alarming rate.
Every trackable metric is influenced by the speed of your site
While page relevance remains a major signal for the Google search rank bots, speed is definitely a top factor. Google now considers “usability metrics” significant and worthy of monitoring, so it’s more important to focus on choosing a reliable web hosting partner than merely meeting algorithmic benchmarks, because if you meet visitor expectations, you’ll automatically satisfy the numbers machine. So maintaining a page load score of 80 or better is critical for reaching the top of the search engine ladder.
Website optimization can be a trial-and-error process, like tweaking front-end issues such as combining Scripts and Style Sheets into a single file and then fine-tuning server side issues that bog down the system. Even the big guys occasionally make a misstep. Google discovered the importance of speed when they changed from a 10-result page load to a 30-result page load pattern. The additional .5 second delay resulted in a 20% drop in both ad revenue and traffic.
Consumer patience is dwindling
In-house testing at Amazon reveals that every 100-microsecond increase in load time translates into a 1 percent decrease in sales. Can your company really afford to lose that much revenue? In 1999, two thirds of users were satisfied with download speeds of eight seconds or more. By 2006, one third of website visitors abandoned a site if it took more than four seconds.
If you’re wondering how your site speed compares to other businesses on the web, take a look at the following stats from MOZ:
- 5 second load time: faster than 25% of websites
- 2.9 seconds load time: faster than 50% of websites
- 1.7 seconds load time: faster than 75% of websites
- .08 seconds load time: faster than 94% of websites
Considering that three out of four Internet users won’t revisit a website that takes longer than 4 seconds to load and the average smartphone user will abandon a website after only 3 seconds, tackling issues that bog down your website is of the utmost importance. If you ignore the need for speed, you’ll lose customers, alienate followers, see an increase of bounce rates, and watch your conversion rates fall dramatically.
Did you know that approximately 80 percent of online shoppers rank quick page load times as the most influential factor in the decision to revisit a site? And an Akamai study reveals that unhappy shoppers are more likely to develop a negative view of a company if web pages are slow. These two facts alone demonstrate the importance of achieving the fastest page load time possible to reduce bounce rates and increase conversion percentages.
Every second of page load time is critical through a sales perspective
Google is considering mobile user experience more and more as the number of users who access the Internet on the move continues to rise. The time to optimize your website for mobile devices is now. The fable about the tortoise and the hare doesn’t apply to the twenty-first century business models—faster and accessible beats out slow and reliable every time in our fast-paced online ecosphere.
Invest in a beautifully-designed business blog and host well-respected guest bloggers and social influencers with a strong following. Develop content that informs and educates website visitors with information they can use to enhance their lifestyle or make daily activities more efficient and enjoyable. Showcase your brand’s unique personality. But always remember that speed matters. You only have a fraction of a second these days to convince a new visitor that your site is worthy of their valuable time, so make it count.