With the prevalence of always-on broadband connections, it may not seem like page load speed is something to sweat over. We’ve come a long way since the days when we used to fight to keep web page size under 100 KB so it would download in less than 20 seconds on a 56K dial-up modem. But websites that are slow to load can dramatically affect both visitor experience and search engine rankings.
Surveys and studies have consistently shown that you have between two and six seconds for your website to be ready to use, or visitors start to leave. A few years ago, Amazon released a study showing that for every one-tenth of a second increase in load time, sales decreased by 1%. Around the same time, Google ran an experiment showing 30 results per page instead of the usual 10. Traffic dropped by 20% on the pages with 30 results, but the difference in load time was only half a second.
Page load speed is known to be a ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. In other words, faster load times equal higher rankings. And higher rankings lead to more traffic. Now, page speed is just one of over 200 signals Google uses to determine rank, and less than one percent of search queries are actually affected by page speed, but that’s certainly not an excuse to ignore it. Slow loading websites have consistently ranked lower in Google’s search results than fast sites.
Increasing Page Load Speed Of Your Website
There are many ways to speed up a website. One of the first places to look is your web host. Your speed problem may come from the uneven quality of service that comes with cheap hosting on a shared server. GoDaddy hosting is one example, but any cheap hosting will be shared hosting. Another option is to host with a company that specializes in hosting your CMS. Hosting tuned for WordPress, Joomla, Magento and more is available for not much more than GoDaddy charges, and they will squeeze every possible performance improvement out of your CMS. (For large WordPress sites, we personally like WP Engine and easyPress.)
Other ways to increase page load speed include:
- optimizing your images: if you’re displaying a photo at 300 by 225 pixels, there’s no need to upload the original 3000 by 2250 pixel image from your camera
- utilizing caching for your database-driven website: Joomla and Magento have caching built in, while there are several excellent caching plugins available for WordPress
- using a cloud-based content delivery network to enable parallel downloads: when the content of your website comes from more than one server, the browser can download multiple files at once
A faster website means a better visitor experience. A slow website will lead to a poor user experenice. Your bounce rate will grow; page views will drop. And if your website generates revenue through ecommerce or ads, you will lose money.
Have any tips for speeding up a website? Share them in the comments.