Your website speed matters. It matters a lot. It impacts your brand, online visitors, foot traffic to your store, your revenue, and your bottom line. Not just ecommerce businesses. Website speed impacts all businesses.
That’s right. Every. Single. Business.
Your website is your store, even if you don’t sell things on it. It is the single most important sales channel that you have. This is because most isseople research online before purchasing. Not just online purchases – offline purchases too.
Website speed is critical to the success of your business. Here’s why and what you can do about it.
11 Ways a Slow Website Hurts Your Business
Higher Bounce Rates
Bounce rate means the proportion of people who leave your site immediately after visiting your website.
Slow websites have higher bounce rates than faster websites. This is because people are inherently lazy and get bored quickly. Yep, even you! Thankfully, you are reading this on our fast website :).
When your website loads slowly, visitors get bored, they disengage and leave your site – they bounce. They don’t click on any links. They just leave your website and probably visit your competitor’s website instead. This means that they don’t view your products or take the time to understand what you do.
Research by section.io found that the bounce rate increases as page speed goes up. As the chart from this research demonstrates, for users with an average page load time of 2 seconds, the bounce rate is quite low at only 9.61%. It increases slightly to 13% for those with an average page load of 3 seconds. From 3 to 4 seconds the bounce rates increases to 17.1%, 22.2% at 5 seconds and for users experiencing an average page load time of 7 seconds, the bounce rate is 32.3%.
Google notices your crappy bounce rate and punishes you by ranking you lower in organic search. So you end up with even less visitors and the visitors you do get don’t much on your website anyway.
Poor User Experience
User experience can be summed up as the overall experience of a person using a product such as a website or computer application, especially in terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use.
A slow website means you don’t give a damn about your visitors and potential customers. If you think they can be bothered sitting around wasting 8 seconds for every page on your site to load, you are mistaken.
A slow website is a poor user experience. Just like a sales rep who turns up uncomfortably late, you can’t afford to piss off your potential customers by making them wait for your slow website to load.
Your website should load in 2 seconds. It probably doesn’t load anywhere near that fast – you can do better. Much better.
Websites are very cheap and highly effective sales channels. If you can’t be bothered making your website fast, don’t bother being in business. You won’t win. You’ll just annoy your users.
High Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate
Cart abandonment rate means the proportion of people who add a product to an online shopping cart and don’t proceed with the sale.
Website speed impacts cart abandonment rates. Slower websites have higher abandonment rates.
As mentioned before, this is because people get frustrated waiting for your slow site to load so they go elsewhere. They also don’t trust slow websites. They fear clicking the pay button if your site is slow (OMG what happens, where does my money go, will it get lost?).
Online giant Amazon found that every 100 millisecond of latency caused a 1% drop in their sales. 100 milliseconds is almost indiscernible, yet it has a big impact on sales.
Plenty of other research supports this, including a study that found a 1 second delay in page load time reduces conversion rates by 7% and another than found 79% of web store visitors who had trouble with website performance don’t return.
You can’t afford to give people any reason not to click the purchase button.
Fewer Newsletter Subscribers
Whether or not you want to admit, email is still one of the most effective sales channels you have.
The more email subscribers you have, the more eyes and ears there are on your product announcements. You have more people to speak to, and more people to share your content on social media.
Alas, your slow website means that fewer people will subscribe to your newsletter. This is because you have given them a poor user experience so they probably bounced, and certainly didn’t bother hanging around to subscribe to your newsletter.
Make your website fast. You’ll get more web traffic, have a lower bounce rate, deliver a better user experience, and you’ll get more newsletter subscribers.
This is very similar to the above point and relates to the poor conversion rates generally associated with slow websites.
If your website is slow, fewer people submit your contact form. Fewer people will reach out and ask for more information.
The reasons for this are many but it’s largely because you get less traffic, a higher bounce rate and your brand seems unprofessional.
Improve your website and eventually more people will submit your contact form.
Lower Search Rankings
Google has made it very clear that site speed is one of over 200 factors that impact organic search rankings.
While Google hasn’t said specifically what they mean by site speed, research by the gurus at Moz indicates that time to first byte is positively correlated with rankings, with faster sites ranking higher than slower sites on this metric.
Ranking higher in search is really important because most clicks go to the top three results. If you want traffic, you want to rank as highly as possible for your keywords.
Interestingly, the Moz research also indicates that page size is negatively correlated with rankings, with long form content typically ranking higher than pages with less content.
This is probably because Google likes longer, in depth articles because they tend to be higher quality.
Less Website Traffic
As mentioned earlier, faster sites tend to rank higher than slower sites. The higher you rank, the more traffic you get.
Google verified this years ago. They ran this simple experiment and found that traffic dropped by 20% for each extra 0.5 second delay in site speed.
Faster websites get more traffic. More traffic equals more prospects.
Who doesn’t want more prospects?
Digital Marketing Costs More
Google has been very clear that landing page experience impacts your Adwords Quality Score, your Ad Rank and hence your advertising costs. They specifically mention page speed!
If you have a slow website, you are providing a poor landing page experience and you will have a higher bounce rate.
Most SEM is on a Pay Per Click basis. Every time a paid user bounces from your site, you have wasted that click. Each click also costs you more because of the poor landing page experience!
This means you have to spend more on Adwords to get more customers because your conversion rate is low and your landing page is poor.
Same goes for your Facebook and LinkedIn ads. You paying them to drive people to your slow website. If your website is slow, they are much less likely to convert and you waste precious marketing dollars.
Your Unprofessional Brand
This relates to user experience but is a bit broader. A slow website says a lot about your brand. It says you lack professionalism.
Websites are cheap. Yep, even $20-30K is not much to spend on your most important sales rep – your website! It even works for you 24/7 and never complains.
Having a slow website indicates that you don’t care and cut corners on your most important sales representative. Cutting corners is unprofessional.
It’s just like the front door to your physical store being rusted shut. No-one wants to enter, let alone buy from you.
You Annoy Mobile Visitors (Especially)
Mobile traffic is continuing to grow and in many sectors it already accounts for more traffic than desktops. There are already more mobile than desktop users worldwide!
Mobile networks can be slow and mobile users are impatient. This is one of the reasons why Google is pushing for Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and is boosting rankings of fast websites when searched on mobile.
Less Foot Traffic
Most people do online research before purchasing physical products and services. To be precise, research indicates that 82% of people research online before making a large purchase.
Your slow website means you get less web traffic and the visitors you do manage to attract don’t spend much time on your website.
It means you won’t be in their consideration set. They are less likely to visit your physical location and buy your products and services. They are probably at your competitor’s shop instead.
4 Free Tools That Tell You Why Your Site is Slow
It may seem to you that your site is “pretty quick”. But is it actually? Does it match Google’s expectation of “quick”?
Thankfully, there are tons of free online tools available that will tell you just how well it performs and what you can do about it.
Here are our 4 favourite free tools to check your website’s speed and performance.
Google PageSpeed Insights
Google’s PageSpeed Insights is a great tool to work out just how well your website is structured technically.
PageSpeed Insights checks to see if a particular page has applied common performance best practices. It provides a score ranging for 0 to 100 points for both Mobile and Desktop experiences, broken into one of the following three categories:
- Good: The page applies most performance best practices and should deliver a good user experience.
- Needs Work: The page is missing some common performance optimisations that may result in a slow user experience.
- Poor: The page is not optimised and is likely to deliver a slow user experience.
Based on the page’s score, you get detailed feedback on what you need to do to speed it up.
Image optimisation is often low hanging fruit for improving website speed and Google Pagespeed Insights even allows you to download optimised images for your site!.
YSlow is/was a great tool provided by Yahoo! While, it’s a little out of date nowadays, it still gives you loads of insight into what you can do to improve your website’s performance.
YSlow analyzes web pages and why they’re slow based on Yahoo!’s rules for high performance web sites
It’s available as a free plugin for Google Chrome.
GTMetrix hooks into both the Google Pagespeed Insights and YSlow APIs and allows you to measure your site’s performance from various locations around the world.
The free plan is pretty decent and allows you to track a bunch of sites. You can upgrade to paid plans to monitor more sites and access their API.
GTMetrix is an awesome tool. We use it extensively, especially when onboarding new clients.
Sitespeed.io is a set of open source tools that helps make web pages faster.
It is immensely powerful but it is not for the fainthearted. You must host it yourself, use the tools from your command line or build it into your own applications.
We think it’s awesome.
Sitespeed.io consists of a number of separate tools:
- Coach gives you performance advice based on best practices for your site.
- Browsertime collects metrics and HAR files from your browser.
- Chrome-HAR creates a HAR file from Chrome Debugging Protocol data.
- Compare makes it easy to find regressions comparing HAR files.
- PageXray converts a HAR file to a usable JSON structure that tells you more about your page.
Sitespeed.io is the main tool that uses all the previously mentioned tools and add supports for testing multiple pages as well as adds the ability to report the metrics to a Graphite DB.
We use our own custom fork of sitespeed.io to monitor our client’s web performance.
5 Articles On How To Speed Up Your Website
There are tons of articles on the web about how to speed up your website.
Instead of regurgitating more the same, here are links to some of these wonderful resources from leaders in the field.
- Common Performance Best Practices by Google
- 34 Best Practice Rules by YSlow
- 10 Ways to Speed Up Your Website by CrazyEgg
- How To Improve Server Response Time by Hilenium
- 15 Tips to Speed Up Your Website by Moz
You’ll notice that most of these articles pretty much say the same things. This is a good thing! It means you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
It takes a lot of time to do these things properly, and ensure they are maintained. This is why we keep all of our hosting clients fast & found.