In today’s digital world, millions of people do online transactions every day whether it’s for a service or a product. In this landscape, companies or even individuals not having a website is almost unthinkable. Looking at online shopping trends over the last decade, the online space is here to stay and grow for the foreseeable future. There is so much competition online that you only have a few minutes to convert someone into a customer.
For a product or service owner who has a website, what can prevent a potential conversion? A great website design, an intuitive user experience, and a functional payment gateway are all very important but a lot of people underestimate the importance of page loading speeds. Let’s take a look at why it’s so essential and how you can optimise your website to get your pages loaded faster.
What is Page Load Speed?
Many people misunderstand the meaning of page-speed as their website speed. Website speed is the speed calculated for several page views on that particular site. Page-load speed is an entirely different matter. It is the time taken for all the necessary information to appear on a specific page. There are many different tools online to calculate your page loading speed. Generally, the faster it is, the better it will be for both you and your customers.
Why is it So Important?
Faster page loading speed is important for two main reasons. They are:
- Better Customer Experience – In today’s fast-moving digital world, people have more options than ever before which means that if they can’t find what they are looking for from you, they will instantly move over to your competitor. With so many options available, very few people will patiently wait for the website pages to load so that they can buy your product or avail your service. Speed is the name of the game and the faster your customer can find relevant information on your site, the higher the chance that they will buy something from you.
This doesn’t apply just for e-commerce websites but for any website that needs a healthy number of customer engagement and retention. Everything is about convenience and speed today and it is a vital part of attracting and retaining potential customers. After all, you don’t want customers to come just once to your website. You want them to see it as their go-to website whenever they want to buy a product or service that you offer.
- SEO – As per Google, site speed and page speed are some of the most important factors used by its algorithm to rank websites in search results. Research has shown that they do measure your time to first byte which is the amount of time it takes for someone’s browser to receive the first byte of information. Therefore if your pages take a lot of time to load, you risk having your website ranked at the bottom of the search results even when you have an amazing website.
SEO is vital for the growth of online businesses. It can greatly help you to attract new customers and help with better customer retention as your website pops up at the top of search results consistently.
Some Statistics Based on Page Loading Speeds
As per several studies:
- 53 percent of mobile site visits fail if pages take more than 3 seconds to load.
- The average page speed-loading time is 3 seconds.
- Slow load times are an important reason for customers abandoning a checkout process.
- About 47 percent of users ideally expect a webpage to load within 2 seconds or less.
- Websites that have page loading speeds of over 4 seconds not only lost customers but it also drastically reduced any chance of them ever returning.
They also revealed that:
To put everything in perspective, a study by Geoff Kenyon, a well-known online marketer showed that:
- If your website loads fully in 5 seconds, it will be faster than 25 percent of all websites out there.
- If your website loads fully in 2.9 seconds, it will be faster than 50 percent of all websites out there.
- If your website loads fully in 1.7 seconds, it will be faster than 75 percent of all websites out there.
- If your website loads fully in 0.8 seconds, it will be faster than 94 percent of all websites out there.
Hence having the ideal page-loading speed is very important in terms of customer conversion and retention. If you can get it faster than the average loading speed, the greater are your chances of attracting and retaining customers.
Mobile Page Speed Performance Metrics from Google
A study commissioned by Google took a look at 37 leading brands across Europe and America ranging from retail and luxury to travel, to find out two main advantages of having faster mobile page speeds.
1) Increased Chance of Customers Reaching the Checkout Page
With faster page loading speeds, it was found out that customers are more likely to reach the checkout page which resulted in better customer conversion rates.
2) Improved Chances of Customers Staying Longer and Buying More
With a decrease of just 1/10 of a second to load, customers were found to spend more time on the site and even make additional purchases.
How Can You Check Your Page Load Times?
Now that you know the importance of having fast page loading times, it would be wise for you to check your current speed. Although there are plenty of online tools that allow you to do just that, one of the most reliable ways is to use Google PageSpeed Insights. All you have to do is copy your website’s URL in the search bar and you will be good to go.
It will show you a variety of interesting data including the reasons why your speed might not be as optimal as it should be and ways in which you can increase the speed. One important thing to note is that mobile page loading speeds and desktop loading speeds are different. Desktops are often faster as they have much more powerful processors than mobiles. Hence checking page loading times on mobiles is also very important. In the below image, you can see how the Google PageSpeed Insights page fares in terms of loading times.
How Can You Increase Your Page Loading Times?
There are many different ways in which you can optimise faster page loading times. Some of the top 5 methods are as follows:
1) Minimizing HTTP Requests
The major part of a page’s loading time is due to the need to download its different parts such as images, scripts, etc. It takes time because an HTTP request has to be made to each of these components for the page to load. So the more components you have, the more time it will take.
One way to effectively reduce HTTP requests is to first understand how many your site has. To do this, just right click on the page and choose ‘Inspect’ and select the ‘Network Tab’. Then you can see all the components, their size, and loading times. You can then move forward with creating a plan to optimise the page according to your needs.
Make sure you understand the scope of the tool before using it on everything. Reduced sizes can have a significant impact on page loading speeds. When it comes to images, ideally what you want to do is go for a size that is small but also offers good quality visually. Too much compression can destroy image quality.
4) Loading Order
5) Reducing Initial Load Times
Apart from reducing the overall page loading time as described in the steps above, you should also focus on reducing the time to first byte. As per Google, the ideal time for TTFB (Time Taken to First Byte) is less than 200 milliseconds. This isn’t a front-end issue but a server one. You can find out more about it using an online tool or Chrome’s Developer Tools.
When it comes to the latter, it is important to note that the server response time you see will depend on your internet connection. So don’t do it with an extremely high-speed connection as most people will be using normal internet speeds to visit your site. If you find out that your site’s TTFB is more than 200 milliseconds, you need to check out both dynamic content creation and server configuration. The issue will probably be found there.
What about Web Hosting?
You should never go for a cheap web hosting service because it will end up costing you a lotof money in the long run. You want to get reliable and fast web hosting for your needs as it will return your money with interest through more customer sales. Here are some of the most reliable and popular web hosting services. They aren’t listed in any particular order as each one has its strengths and weaknesses.
- SiteGround – With an average speed of 136.9 milliseconds it is well below Google’s recommended speed and comes with a variety of features such as 20 GB SSD storage, 24/7 tech support, premium backup, and more. They have 6 data centres across 4 continents, all of which use Google Cloud. It’s also pretty affordable.
- Hostinger – The average speed is 143 milliseconds and similarly to SiteGround offers 20 GB of SSD storage space. You also get a free domain, great support, and a very attractive price point. Their speeds are far better in Asian countries than Western ones due to distance but for their affordable price point, they give you an insane value.
- A2 Hosting – They provide an average speed of 150 milliseconds and a host of useful features such as unlimited SSD NV Me storage, unlimited bandwidth, free site migration, and more. They come at a higher price point but they do have an anytime-money-back policy. They currently have 4 data centres (2 in the US, 1 in Amsterdam, and 1 in Singapore). Proximity to the server of course leads to better speeds.
There are many great web hosting companies out there today. To get the most value, you should always look at proximity to their servers, average speeds, and features. Go for the one that works best for your specific business. It will be wiser to do your research first before going for one.
If you find that your website is not getting optimised for speed or want to create a whole new website, then the better thing to do would be to avail the services of a reputable web design and marketing company such as Nettonic.co.uk.
Nettonic is a specialised company that primarily focuses on web design, search engine optimisation, and social media marketing which makes us perfect for the task at hand. If you have any queries, you can contact us to get an idea of costs, time, or just for a consultation.