The Importance of Website Speed in SEO and User Experience

by | Blog

In our blistering-paced modern world, no one likes to wait. That includes any visitors to your website and Google, as any good website designer knows well. In this article, we’ll lay out exactly why page load speed has such a big impact on user experience, SEO, and online profitability.

The Importance of Website Speed in SEO and User Experience

User Experience (UX) has become a defining factor of success in the highly competitive digital realm. Put simply, UX is how your customer feels when they interact with your site and your brand. The better they feel, the longer they stay, and the more likely they are to become paying customers. This affects SEO because Google only wants to serve up websites that searchers feel really good about finding.

By keeping an eye on the metrics of your website, such as bounce rate, session duration, page views, and conversions, you can gain a very clear picture of how much (or how little) your visitors are enjoying your site. Google watches these exact same metrics and adjusts your SEO rankings accordingly.

First Impressions Matter

When a potential customer clicks on a link that leads to your site, you want your business to make a wonderful first impression. But even before the first splash of color or lettering appears in their browser window, the loading speed itself affects that first impression.

As in all areas of business, speed of service conveys professionalism and reliability. The longer your pages take to load, the more likely your visitor is to feel a slight pang of irritation, which no business owner wants to be associated with their brand.

Slow Sites Drive Visitors Away

Unsurprisingly, studies have found that bounce rates increase the longer it takes a page to load. The bounce rate measures the percentage of visitors who leave the site after viewing only one page rather than perusing further pages or purchasing something. The bounce rate is considered a metric of disappointment and disapproval, which should be kept as low as possible.

Google research revealed that bounce rates increase by 32% when page load speed slows from one second to three seconds and 90% after five seconds. Other research found that 40% of people give up and abandon a website altogether when the page load speed exceeds three seconds. Similarly to running a restaurant, if you want customers to stay, speed of service matters irrespective of how delicious your offering is.

Under Two Seconds Is Ideal

As something to aim for, page load time should ideally be less than two seconds. Almost half of the people in a Kissmetrics study reported that they expect a professional website to load in under two seconds. Consider how much time you’re willing to give a web page before you click away, and then make sure your website is faster than that.

Less Speed, Less Revenue

Even if someone patiently waits a full three or four seconds for your webpage to load, their impression of your brand will have soured somewhat. And you’re likely to notice this in their lackluster response to any product offers or other calls to action.

Research by Portent found that website conversions to sales fall by 4.42% for every additional second a page takes to load. And this correlation appears to be amplified on mobile phones, as Google reports a staggering 27% drop in conversions for every second reduction in speed on mobiles. Considering that nowadays, over 60% of all website traffic comes from mobile, this can make a significant difference in profits.

Long-Term Customer Values Drop, Too

Another essential factor in the success of any business is customer loyalty: how often existing customers return to repurchase and how many months or years they stay with your brand. Customer loyalty effectively determines the average lifetime value of your customers.

A study by Skilled found that a whopping 79% of customers are less likely to return to a website to purchase more when slow loading speeds have caused them dissatisfaction. Considering how much harder it is to acquire a new customer than to persuade an existing customer to return, this is a tragedy for many businesses.

Google Loves Speedy Sites

The past decade has seen the Google algorithm become remarkably sophisticated. This algorithm, which determines the page rank of each website, can now accurately judge the relevancy and quality of any web page’s content to the search term. Because page load speed impacts user experience so much, Google has made it an important factor in the ranking algorithm.

Google keeps the inner workings of its algorithm a secret, but Matt Cutts, Google’s former head of web spam, has spoken publicly about the importance of site speed as a ranking factor while also stressing that relevancy and quality of content should never be sacrificed in the name of speed. And any website owner or SEO specialist soon learns firsthand how important it is to be fast.

Use the Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool

To help website and content creators generate a better experience for their users, Google has created a very useful tool: PageSpeed Insights. This shows you how quickly various elements of your pages are loading for the average user.

It also provides useful insights into factors that might be slowing down your pages. Any website designer worth their salt will have even more advanced tools for measuring and monitoring a website’s speed, plus a focus on building websites for speed from the ground up.

How Your Website Designer Can Accelerate Your Site

There are all kinds of ways to speed up a website. For one, you can optimize the images on a page. Images take up far more bandwidth than text, and there are ways to shrink their digital size without sacrificing too much quality by compressing, reducing resolution, and shrinking dimensions.

Excess code likewise takes up unnecessary space. CSS and Javascript can often be minified, obtaining the same result with a little less script volume. You can also stagger your CSS and Javascript loading sequences, reduce HTTP redirects, cache your web pages, and enable cache browsing. Each of these terms might seem a little jargon-heavy, but your website designer will know them well.

Supercharge Your Speed With a Content Delivery Network

Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) are a fantastic way to boost your website’s loading speed. They work in a similar way to Amazon, which keeps stores of products in giant warehouses all over the USA. When you order something, Amazon delivers that specific product from the nearest warehouse to you, shortening distances and accelerating delivery time. You don’t need to wait for your new keyboard, sushi kit, or plushie to travel from the other side of the country.

CDNs achieve the same efficiency by storing constantly updated copies of your website on multiple servers all around the USA. Then when someone in Indianapolis visits your site, the data is delivered to their browser from a server in Indiana or nearby, rather than all the way from your hosting company in Los Angeles.

If you want a stunning website with super-fast page load speeds built and launched in just 30 days, schedule a free strategy call today with Next Level Media Crew. Our customized, branded, turn-key websites are designed to generate leads, drive sales, and maximize your revenue.

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