Speed matters - how fast is your website?
In the digital age, your website is a fundamental part of your business and needs to be cared for and valued like a top performing employee.
You may have an amazing design and brilliant, engaging content to entice users back to the site, but when was the last time you had a look at the website speed? If you can’t answer that (or are embarrassed by how long it’s been), don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Site speed is an area overlooked by many businesses, but it can have a big impact on your business visibility, customer experience, and yes, your bottom line! It’s time to take a closer look at your website speed and if it’s not cutting the mustard, find out why and how to resolve any problems.
Why does it matter?
Put simply, it matters because of user experience. We live in a fast-paced world and now more than ever we expect instant gratification. Patience is a lost virtue in the land of digital and customers tolerance for slow loading web pages has diminished as technology has advanced. Long gone are the days of dial-up and waiting 8+ seconds for a page to load. Speed is king and if you can’t keep up your customers will find someone else who can.
We’ve all been a victim of the slow load in the past, the agony of waiting for what feels like an eternity and hesitantly clicking another link or refreshing the page. Eventually deciding it just isn’t worth the frustration you’re feeling. Exasperated and defeated you leave the website and make a mental note to never return.
The modern customer is time-poor with a decreasing attention span, which means you need to make an impression fast and deliver quality quickly. Whether your websites purpose is lead generation, providing informative content or an e-commerce platform, the same rules apply, and a slow website will lose you business.
As well as the direct impact on customer experience, a slow website can also damage your SEO efforts. Google uses website page load time as a key factor in determining your website’s organic search ranking. If you’ve got a slow site, Google will penalise you by adding your results further down the search results page, meaning fewer people will see and click on your website. With less potential customers having visibility of the site, traffic decreases and your website loses its ROI.
Okay, I get it, how do I find out how fast the website is?
It’s easy to find out your current page load speed by using tools like Google PageSpeed Insights or Pingdom. You can get instantly get a score for the website and a breakdown of what areas can be improved to increase your load speed. Simply enter a URL to test and these tools will analyse your website and give you useful insight in a helpful and easy to digest report.
How do I improve the website speed?
There are many ways to improve website speed, and the great news is that they’re often quite simple and easy to implement.
1. Optimise videos and images
A repeat offender impacting websites speed are large or unnecessary images and videos. Optimising your images and videos can shave seconds off your page load speed. Images should be compressed and be an appropriate size for where they’re being used. You should also avoid using large high-quality video content that isn’t necessary on the site.
2. Improve mobile
Making your site mobile-friendly isn’t a should have anymore, it’s a must have. Many customers access the internet through a mobile device and if your site isn’t responsive then you’ll be penalised by Google and snubbed by your site visitors. The website design should have a mobile first approach and cater to the most popular devices and browsers.
Browsers will automatically cache some information, meaning they don’t need to generate a new page every time it’s shown to a user on the site. This helps reduce the load time for pages. You can improve upon this further by adjusting the settings on your site to extend cache expiry, making page load speeds even faster for your returning users.
4. Hosting and Content Distribution Networks (CDNs)
Sounds scary right? It’s not as daunting as it may seems with the right provider. Storing content using external sites or utilising a CDN can dramatically reduce page load speed as your servers don’t need to work as hard to host large files. You could host video content on an external site like YouTube or Vimeo and then embed that content on the website, or you could use a CDN to share the load of delivering content to users through multiple servers.
Now you know more about the importance of your website load speed, take the right steps to ensure your customers are getting the best experience. Remember though, optimisation is a process and not a one-off, you’ll need to maintain good practices with your content and regularly check your site speed to make sure you’re still ranking high.