How Page-Load Speed Affects Your Website

The people who came up with the adage, “slow and steady wins the race” obviously weren’t referring to anything in the 21st century. In these modern times, speed is king. Everyone wants faster everything and tech is not helping at all, or helping, depending on how you see it.

The truth is that, even your closest friend will not pick your slow site over a competitor’s nimbler site no matter how much they love you. It’s sad, but it’s the truth. Patience is wearing thinner and thinner among the human race.

What You Will Learn

Why Page Load is important.
How Page Speed affects shopping experience.
What is the impact of Page Load in terms of SEO.
How big sites like Amazon react on page speed.

Why Page Load Speed is Imperative?

So, if you want your site to rank, then you’ve got to pay attention to its loading speed. Truly, content is king, but speed is like the lifeblood of your site. Without it, even your king will be dead in seconds.

Because this is the way customers see it… If they can’t get your site to load on their devices or personal computer in a minimum time, they immediately deem your site not useful. And so your ranking drops. Harsh?

Sorry, but buckle down because it gets even harsher.

It's getting harsher and I don't want to listen

Individuals who run e-commerce sites have it even worse. According to the numbers put together by the specialists over at the Hosting Tribunal, customers won’t return to an e-commerce site if it fails to perform up to standard. That is, if it has speed issues.

And you probably already know this but let’s remind you all the same. Customers kiss and tell. A lot.

Now, this can be a good or bad thing, depending. If they’ve had a good experience on your site, then congratulations. You’ve just earned yourself a loyal customer and an unpaid advertiser.

If they didn’t, then oops! I don’t have to explain what that translates to.

404 customer not found

Let’s wrap this up nicely with these words from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, paraphrased, of course. Nothing is faster than the speed of bad news. Not even light.

In our article, today, you’re about to learn what a single second delay can cost your business online. We’re going to have to zap immediately ‘cos you know, we’re racing against time.

The Internet is Like Narnia – Time Counts Differently

Are you a fan of C.S Lewis or good movies? Then you’ve probably read the book or seen the movie, Chronicles of Narnia. And there’s one unique thing about Narnia which is the fact that time counts very differently over there.

It’s the same on the internet. The time it takes you to blink your eye can be all the difference between your site and that of a competitor. Now whether that difference would favor you or not is really up to you.

How page load speed affects ranking

Yes, that “insignificant” time it takes to blink your eye can affect your search rankings, sales and conversions, and your customers’ satisfaction as well.

You don’t have to take our word for it, though. Here are some stats to help you put things in perspective. You’ll never see time the same way again.

According to research, the minimum amount of time your customer is willing to wait for your site to load is 3 seconds. Yes, 3 seconds. Meaning that in the time it took you to read our last sentence your site should have loaded, completely. A single second longer is, many times, too long.

But let’s see how speed is affecting online shopping habits.

How Speed Affects Shopping Habits

Now, Americans might like to shop, but when it comes to online shopping, they’d rather do that fast. Check it out. You don’t have the advantages those brick and mortar stores do.

Landing page speed vs. conversion rate

Consider, for instance, the average dog parent that goes to Walmart to get some dog food. They will walk through the aisles, touching products. Some might even run into old friends and stay and chat a bit.

Then, of course, there’s the ambience and the good music to make everyone happy and less antsy. Plus, very few will drive the number of blocks from their house to the store and then walk out without getting something. The ideology most times is that since they are there already, then they should as well get something for their pains.

As an online entrepreneur, you do not have any of that luxury. However, you have something they don’t have.

All you’ve got convenience. Your customers can access you dressed in their soiled PJs on their unkempt bed. This, sweetheart, is your weapon.

However, convenience served on the platter of speed is gold.

Page Speed Shopping Analytics

On an e-commerce site, the average customer gets frustrated by images that take too long to load. The numbers show that as much as 39% of customers will ditch your e-commerce site for your competitor’s if the images load too slowly or not at all.

Also, when asked, 74% of respondents actually said they would totally abandon a site if it was too slow for them. And by “too slow for them”, they often mean that the site didn’t load on their smartphone within 5 seconds.

How page speed affects shopping habbitsNow, while all these are equally bad news, they pale in comparison to the pain of a “near-purchase”. You know, you’ve done your homework and your properly forged hook has drawn your target customer in. However, at the last minute, the customer opts out of the purchase. Ouch!

Of course, several reasons contribute to this. Nonetheless, for more than half the cases, the problem is that the site took too long to load.

Because as figures show, a little over 50% of customers will abandon a purchase if said site took too long to load. And 75% won’t even bother returning to your site ever again if it takes more than 4 seconds to load fully.

How page speed affects returning customers

In fact, a whooping 79% of customers won’t even bother buying from a retail site anymore if they aren’t impressed with the performance of the site. Now, why do I keep harping on about customer experience? Because wherever your site is, online or on land, your customer is your king. And oftentimes, you only get one chance to impress the king before he makes an everlasting decision concerning you.

You’ve got to up your speed game, pals. And here’s why…

Why Exactly a Negative Customer Experience Is Bad for You

There are several specific reasons a negative customer experience due to a slow site is bad for you. And we’re going to discuss some of them shortly.

First of all, I told earlier that customers kiss and tell, for better or worse. Fortunately, you can work that to your advantage. But if you don’t, there are consequences. You get negative publicity and lose traffic, which are just the beginning of bad things.

What Research Showed Us

Now, research tells us that nearly half of your customers will tell their friends and family if they had a bad experience with you. 44% if you need the specifics.

In the world of sales, 44% is staggering. And people tend to believe their friends’ and family’s reviews and even form their opinions on things based on them alone.

Revenue drop and negative publicity

So, in nearly half of the cases, before you even get your chance to impress potential customers, the answer is already a resounding “no”. Just because of a site that kept loading forever. In turn, this affects your customer loyalty too.

I found out that more than half of your customers revealed that one way to earn their loyalty is to ensure that your site is a quick-loading one. In other words, more than half of your customers will keep coming back to you as long as your site is nimble.

Now, losing sight of this and letting your site delay your customers by even a second can cost you dearly. Statistics report that every year, $18 billion dollars is lost by online retailers in the US alone. And this is due to customers abandoning their online shopping carts.

Abandoned shopping cart

From all I’ve said so far, it isn’t difficult to deduce who the online retailers contributing to these numbers are. Of course, the majority are the owners of snail-paced sites.

Web Speed Lessons From the Big Guys

If you think customers have a bias for the big guys over your startup, you’ve got to do a rethink: The world of online entrepreneurship is cutthroat and customers are merciless. They show no regard for the name, just results.

Here are some case studies to help put things in perspective.

Successful Page Load Stories

When AliExpress reduced their mobile site’s load time by up to 36%, the result was significant. The amount of orders the site received jumped by up to 10.5%. But even more significantly, the conversion rate on the site increased by as much as 27% too.

And now, to another big company, The Trainline. Once, this company decided to reduce their latency by just 0.3 seconds. This isn’t even up to a full second but check out how this seemingly insignificant time difference panned out for them.

The company recorded as much as an £8 million increase in revenue that year.

And there are other companies who also cashed out by simply optimizing their site’s speed. Companies like Smart Furniture, Yahoo, Walmart and Ancestory. However, some brands slacked a bit and had a bitter story to tell.

There was Bing, for example. Because of a 2 second delay (we know better than to refer to 2 seconds as “only” now, don’t we?), Bing lost visitors.

How page load affects website abandonment

We are talking about a 3.75% reduction in the average number of clicks. And this in turn led to a 4.3% loss in revenue for each visitor.

How Page Speed Affects Big Sites

Now, what would be the fate of your favorite brands if they tried something crazy like ignore the speed of their site even for a bit? Imagine Amazon and Google Started ‘Loooaaadddiiinnngggg’…

When Amazon did the test, they found something scary. That if they allowed the speed of their site to go down by as little as 1 second, they could lose close to $2 billion per year. This is the world’s largest (and probably favorite) store.

Can't allow that to happen

Another hypothesis, this time for Google… Google must not let its pages load 0.5 seconds longer than they currently take to load results. If they do, their average number of searches will drop by 25%.

Yes guys, it’s cutthroat. Even for the big guys.

Now, talking about Google makes us want to talk about your SEO rankings. So, maybe we should discuss that quickly before we zap.

Site Speed Affects SEO Ranking

You know Google has all these tools you can use to analyze your site and tell you how it’s really doing, right? Now, according to research conducted by Google, your site speed also affects how you rank on the search engine.

Improving your page load speed can have a huge impact on your rankings. That being said, a slow site speed might be responsible for your poor SEO ranking.

Google’s findings have it that, when your pages take about 2 seconds to load, customers will visit nearly 10 pages. But when that time increases by 6 seconds, that number drops by about two-thirds. And customers end up visiting only 3.3 pages.

How website load time affects Google ranking

Moreover, you’ve probably heard of bounce rates, right? And if you haven’t you can probably figure out from the way it sounds. Think about a basketball bouncing: hits one spot now and the next second it is somewhere else entirely.

Website visitors do the same with pages that are slow or don’t meet their expectations.

Now, if your page used to take just one second to load, and then suddenly it increases, it’s bad news as you know. But how bad?

Well, if the time increases to 3 seconds, bounce rate would be about 32%. Now, if that time goes from 1 second to 5 seconds, the value triples and the chance of a bounce increases to 90%. Increase that by just one second again, and the bounce rate jumps to 123%!

Bounce rate vs Google rankings graph

That’s a lot!

Let’s Wrap It Up!

Your site’s speed is probably more important than any other aspect of your site. That is, if you intend to make money and deliver value to your customers. The competition is just too stiff to give second chances or tolerate anything other than fast speed.

  • Specialists at the Hosting Tribunal say that customers won’t return to an e-commerce site if it fails to perform up to standard.
  • Customers are likely to visit competitor’s site if your site loads too slowly.
  • Page load has a huge impact on SEO. It affects the bounce rate too. Pages with higher bounce rate tend to be positioned lower in Google.

Like I said, the maxim slow and steady wins the race doesn’t belong in the digital world. So, if you’re going to win the race then you’ve got to be fast and furious.

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