So, your website was a perfect match for a visitor’s search query & it ranked on the first position in the SERP. As a result, the visitor clicks on your website.
Now, your website is loading and loading and loading.
And the visitor bounces back.
Sad reality but true.
Users spend 70% more time, and have 60% more page views, on websites that load quickly.
The attention span of the users is pretty low and they expect the website to load in just a click. However, if you think that your visitors will for your website to load fully even if it takes more than 20 seconds then you are in a misconception.
The page load time of a website is a crucial ranking factor & should not be ignored at any cost.
What exactly is Page Load Time?
If you are in the field of digital marketing, you would have surely heard of how crucial your page load speed is. The search giant Google gives utmost importance to quicker loading speed, both in SEO and Google AdWords.
For a layman, load time page is nothing but the time taken for a website to load. But what is behind the screen?
In our childhood we would have thought TV, computer or mobile would display everything by magic. But now kids also know how these technologies work. It is better to understand behind the scenes of the page load time sooner.
So, whenever you click on a URL or type a URL in your browser window, your browser sends the request for that page’s information to its dear friend server via a vehicle by the name internet network.
Now the server has hosted various websites in its home. Manually it will take forever it to find the exact website page its friend browser window has requested, but technology makes it easy by instantly locating the web page in the servers’ database.
Now server sends all the files of the requested web page back to the browser via the same vehicle i.e. internet network. Browser window starts to parse, load and render the web content and displays the web page to the user.
This whole elaborative process takes place in seconds!
You might have observed the load time page of various websites vary. That is because it depends on various factors such as the performance of hosting server, the bandwidth of the internet network, website elements such as images, videos, and location of the requested browser and server placement.
More on this, let’s discuss in the section of improving page load time.
Why Website Speed Matters?
Let’s say you are browsing on the internet to buy a cake for your friend’s birthday.
You visit xyz website, it took more than 2 seconds to load, you being the demanding internet user, got frustrated and abandoned the website. Poor XYZ website lost a customer, for the minor delay in loading speed!
Seriously, it just took more than 2 seconds! Don’t you have so much patience?
Well, it is not just you! 50% of the internet users expect a web page to load in 2 seconds.
Such is the impact of the page load speed.
Did you just blink an eye? How much time did it take? Half a second! Well, a similar amount of delay in your website speed can drop your traffic and revenue by 20%. I am not making it up. The Google has reported it!
If you are a blog writer, you might be thinking, I need not worry much about these 2 seconds, 0.5 seconds and God knows what milliseconds delay! I am sorry, but I have to burst this balloon.
Financial Times conducted a survey on how page load speed affects reading habit of internet users and the results are shocking!
(i) A 1-second delay in page load speed lead to drop of articles read by 4.9%
(ii) A 3-second delay in page load speed lead to drop of articles read by 7.2%
(iii) The blogs with high loading speed were observed to have lesser subscribers
Enough of negative examples, let’s talk something positive.
GQ magazine realized the power of page load speed and decided to transform their web page load time. They successfully reduced the web page load time from 7 seconds to 1.5 seconds.
The results were astonishing! Website unique visitors increased from 6 to 11 million. A whopping increase of ad interaction rate on the website by 108%.
If these instances aren’t motivating you to work on your website speed, then I don’t know what else will?
How to measure your Websites’ page speed?
After knowing the importance of every second delay of your website speed, the first question to ask yourself is what exactly is my website speed?
You need to know your website won’t be a constant value. It varies based on the distance between the browser and your server, internet bandwidth of the user, new or returning user.
As much as the internet seems like magic, the reality is the data between browser and server are passed through signals and optical fibers. Higher the distance between them, higher the web page speed.
Still, you can get an idea of your website’s loading speed using the following tools. Ensure that you opt for options which mostly identify your users such as your major traffic’s location and highly used bandwidth in that area.
There are many tools in the market to measure the website’s loading speed. Some of the popular ones are;
1. Google Page Speed Insights
As Google extensively supports user-friendly websites with quicker loading speed, it has its own tool to help web developers improve the web page load speed.
Though this tool doesn’t give the real-time web page load speed, it rates the performance of the website in the grade of 0 to 100 for both desktop and mobile devices.
Any website with more than 85 scores is a good performing website with respect to speed. The tool also gives optimization suggestion to improve the overall score.
Pingdom is a widely used website speed testing tool in the market. It is a completely free tool. You can select major regions in the world to test your website speed.
Along with the real-time website speed, it also provides page size, number of requests sent, and waterfall of the page loading time.
GTmetrix is another popular tool in the digital world to check the speed of the website. It gives almost all the metrics given by the Pingdom tool.
Additionally, it combines the optimization suggestions given by Google Page Insight and Yslow.
How to Improve Page Load Time?
A lot has been spoken about page speed, its impact, how to measure it!
The real question is, how do you improve web page speed? It is simple as well as complicated if you don’t know what exactly to be done.
First thing first, keep your website lightweight and simple. Don’t overload it with unnecessary rich media elements.
Optimize the images. Be sure that optimization isn’t making the image blur. Use proper optimization methodology which compresses the file but keeps its quality intact.
Nothing works better than caching the website. All the popular Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress and Joomla have cache plugins which cache your website and reduces the load on the browser.
If you have customers in various region of the world, it is advisable to use the Content Delivery Network (CDN). These are basically mini servers in various regions of the world, which helps browsers to connect to them faster.
Last but not the least, redirects are best practice to navigate users to the right page, but your page load speed doesn’t have a good relationship with it. So, better avoid it.
A case study of Hubspot provides a bundle of information on how improvement in page speed affects the conversion and sales of various big giants in the market;
(i) If Yahoo reduces the page load time by 0.4 seconds, it may increase the traffic by 9%.
(ii) Amazon burns $1.6 billion in sales per year for delay of page load time by 1 second.
(iii) You know what happens when bing slows down by 2 seconds? – It loses 4.3% revenue for every user, clicks reduces by 3.75% and queries drop by 1.8%.
It’s a costly business to play with website load speed!
With 4G and 5G internet speed invading the market, the consumer is becoming more and more impatient. Better user experience is the ultimate goal.
If your website doesn’t cope up with the lightning-fast loading speed of your competitors, then your business is destined to go down. Roll your sleeves and start improving your website speed. It is better late than never!
Over the past years, Search Engine Optimization has made a remarkable position in the Digital Marketing landscape and proved its worth by delivering the desired results in the form of higher rank in the SERP.
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