Business people, well all people, like fast websites. Nothing puts internet users off more than a website with a slow loading page. Imagine you are looking for a particular business service and your Google search turns up a few websites. You click one of them and find yourself watching a revolving circle while the page takes forever to open. The automatic reaction is to click the back button and try the other suggested sites.
Page loading speed and customer behavior
Many commercial websites lose potential customers this way. Today’s business internet user is very impatient. In fact, a recent survey proved that the almost 48% of web users expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less. This means once a page load takes longer than 3 seconds, many will abandon it and look elsewhere.
Nearly 74% of online shoppers who experience difficulty with poor web performance have admitted they wouldn’t be returning to the site. Another 44% say they would tell a family member or friend if they had a bad shopping experience on a website.
The significance of this is that you are not only losing potential conversions, but the loss is extended to a circle of influences too. Translated into the small family that is a business niche that can become very significant.
The Google effect
You know who else hates slow loading pages? Google.
Site speed is a ranking factor in the search engine process, and a slow speed labels your website as poorly performing. This reduces your site’s chances of improved search engine optimisation.
A fast site is a sign of good user experience (UX), and a satisfying UX results in higher conversions. Your page loading speed is critical to the success of your online business. This comprises search marketing and search engine optimisation. Very slow Websites give visitors a bad user experience- and Google is all about great UX. How fast is your website? Here’s a tool to help you check.
The importance of web speed as a Google ranking factor. Google does not hide its disdain for poorly performing websites. John Mueller, a Google engineer has reportedly been quoted as saying, that the company takes into account websites that take a long time to load.
This means Google search bots will crawl your site slower. This is counterproductive for business, especially if you are spending time and effort in updating content. According to John Mueller, if Google observes a slow response time on your website, it will greatly reduce the number of URLs they’ll crawl from your site.
It is important to note that slow page loading speed does not affect ranking but the crawling. However, your page won’t rank well if the crawling is limited. Now you get the picture.
What causes slow page loading time?
There are many factors that could make your website load slowly. Some of them can be resolved on the website, while others could be attributed to the hosting provider.
1. Server performance
Your website loads from bottom up. A user who clicks on your site is like someone turning the ignition of a car; they are asking your website to ‘open’. When this happens, the individual’s browser, probably Chrome or Firefox for your clients, sends a ping to your server. This is a request for your server to send certain information or data in response.
Brendan Wilde at Cloud Hosting | Umbrellar explains “If your server has poor performance, it will take a long time to send the information request to your web visitor. This is almost always the case when you are using a shared server with thousands of other users. So, if your website is always slow, it is probably because you are waiting in queue with many other sites.”
2. Server location
Long distance calls often take longer to make a connection. This is because the information has to travel physically from the repository to the user. The data travels through cables and is transmitted via satellites.
Similarly, when you click a website, you send a request to the server which responds to your query with necessary information. Servers may extend across continents; hence the distance affects the time it takes to reach users on opposite sides of the globe.
3. Lots of traffic
This is common if your site is on a shared hosting plan and you are experiencing a lot of web traffic. The work-load may force the server to crash or make its loading time extremely slow. Think of it as a shop queue with several customers waiting to use the self-service machine. The crowd will naturally create a bottleneck. The store will need to bring in additional resources.
If your web hosting provider is unable to supplement their resources for the increasing traffic, your website will bear the brunt.
4. Extra-large images
In the time of dial-up internet, a large image could take over a minute to load. Almost one bit at a time, it was unbearable! Although the game has changed today, the same rule still applies.
When a customer pings your site, say for the image of a leather bag, the server sends it to their browser screen. The information will contain the images, text and other content. Going by logic, larger items will take a longer time to be delivered. If your website hasn’t optimised its images to the appropriate resolutions and size specifications, it will slow the page loading speed.
How to decrease your page loading time and increase web performance?
Once you discover your website takes a long time to open, it is necessary to take action immediately. The following tips can improve your web performance.
1. Review your web hosting plan
You may want to review your web hosting plan, or upgrade it to a more functional one. This is especially important if you are on a shared plan. If the problem continues, change your provider.
2. Use GZIP compression
Your web hosting provider can use GZIP compression and deflation to reduce the size of your files by as much as 70% without degrading the image quality.
Instead of squeezing up every page on your website together, place your scripts and CSS so the can load in external files. By doing this, your browser will only load the files once instead of every time somebody visits your page.
4. Optimise your images
Adjust the width and resolution of your media files (images and videos) to suit your website. The “Save for Web” option on Photoshop or Fireworks is an efficient optimization tool.
Always run tests on the page loading speed of your website to check for its performance. If you are nonchalant about it, your business could be losing potential customers.