Time is money – literally – especially in the world of ecommerce.
According to multi-disciplinary conference Strange Loop, a ONE second delay in page loading time could result in:
Surprising, it is not. In fact, user expectations are bound to become more demanding as advances in technology make data available for more and more people. For instance, mobile users expect website speed to be faster on mobile devices (such as smartphones and tablets), compared on desktop. This puts the pressure on developers and web designers.
Today, they would need to come up with sleek, beautiful sites that are user- and mobile-friendly – without compromising speed. Sounds impossible? If you know how to fix the small issues, it will ultimately lead to a faster website experience. However, you will need to address these problems right away.
But why the rush?
Is there really a connection between fast website speed and ranking on SERPs? Well, yes and no.
YES, because in 2010, Google announced that it’s going to include site speed as one of its search ranking factors. This means that websites with faster loading speeds are valued, because they offer better user experience (UX). However, less than ONE percent of search queries are affected because search engines, like Google, value other more important metrics, such as: relevance, quality of links, and content.
NO, because inasmuch as website speed is important, don’t forget that Google has more than 200 ranking factors. Plus, in one study from Moz, it was found that it’s not necessarily the website speed that’s affecting ranking. Rather, it’s the backend aspect known as Time to First Byte (TTFB).
This metric refers to the time it takes before a browser receives the first byte of response from a server. The lower the TTFB, the faster the site. The study saw a correlation between sites with lower TTFB and higher rankings. This suggests that Google’s crawlers find it quicker and easier to ‘read’ and calculate TTFB signals than design, structure, and content of a web page.
So what’s the verdict? Is website speed critical or not? If it’s important to BOTH users and search engines, then yes. After all, who wants to visit a site that takes eons to load?
Remember: every second counts!
Whether you’re a small business owner or a blogger, fixing speed issues with your website should be a priority. Don’t subject your readers and future clients to agonizing wait times.
Here are five website speed concerns to tackle first.
A ‘bad’ web host is not necessarily the cheaper or less known one. You can experience bad service even with an established web host. If you’re not careful, it can cost you more than a slow site. Your choice can affect your ranking, your site’s overall health, and how people see you online. Before deciding, understand the type of web hosting service you need based on your goals. Carefully research about your options, and read about their customer support (you will need this).
Another thing you can do to fix website speed issues is to use CDN or Content Delivery Network. It’s basically a network that delivers web content based on a user’s geographic location. The shorter the distance it takes for data to travel from the main server to the user, the faster your website will load.
Every time you direct a user from one web page to another, you are prompting an HTTP request-response cycle. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, limit your redirects. Also, beware of domains that are NOT relevant or contain any content redirecting to your pages. They can overload your server, causing slow site speed.
Other culprits include having too many tracking codes and share buttons. Ask yourself: do you really need THAT many? Work with an SEO specialist (if you must) to determine which buttons and tracking codes to keep. Place them at the bottom of your webpage to keep loading speeds at its optimum.
There are certain web page elements that don’t change (e.g. headers and navigation links), and therefore, can be saved for faster retrieval. Expires headers is a popular way to do this, so that the data is available once the user goes back to the site. The static elements are saved on a browser’s cache. This allows the page to load faster, which is great if the user is a constant visitor to your website.
HD images are awesome. However, they can be brutal on website speed. Make sure to resize and compress images so that you retain the quality, without being burdened by the bulky file size. Avoid uploading the photo AND resizing it. Crop images and compress using tools such as Smush.it, and then upload them onto your CMS.
404 or 401 errors may look normal – but if you want a wonderful user experience on your site, as well as a good SEO standing, mind your broken links. Whether it’s a link or image, be sure to fix it immediately. This slows down loading times because browsers still require an HTTP request-response. However, the process is wasted because the link doesn’t exist.
Error pages can also frustrate your website visitors. Avoid the headache on both ends (yours and online users) by fixing broken links. CMS platforms like WordPress have their own Broken Link Checker, but you can also use tools like W3C’s.
According to Akamai and Forrester Research, most users today expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less. That’s a LOT of pressure. In order to make that possible, make sure to work on both the backend and frontend aspects of your website. Don’t just focus on design. Don’t forget to do regular evaluations as well to ensure positive user experience.
Website speed will be even more crucial in years to come. So invest in the equipment, knowledge, and skills TODAY to keep up.