Website load time affects your traffic, ranking (and $$). Don’t you hate it when you log onto a website and it takes (what seems like) forever to load? Website load time definitely influences my website searches. Rather than wait for the page to load, I usually just exit and go to the next option. And I’m not alone.
It turns out no one likes to wait around for a website to load. Website pages that take a long time to load have higher bounce rates (visitors leaving the website all together) and lower average time on a page. While having a fast loading website page doesn’t guarantee an increase in traffic, the chances of a visitor remaining on your website does increase. On average, people spend more time and click on more pages if they don’t have to wait for a page to load.
Every Second Counts
In addition, studies show that the longer a user spends on a website, the better the conversion rate. Especially relevant is a study by Gomez titled “Why web performance matters: is your site driving customers away?” This studied reveled that website visitors expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or less. As many as 38% of visitors will leave a website if they have to wait more than a few seconds
The study also found that:
- At peak traffic times, more than 75% of online consumers left for a competitor’s site rather than suffer delays
- 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience
- Almost half expressed a less positive perception of the company overall after a single bad experience
- More than a third told others about their disappointing experience
Real World Examples
Mozilla made its pages load 2.2 seconds faster. As a result, they saw 60 million more Firefox downloads per year
Amazon loses 1% of sales for every 100ms it takes their site to load
Shopzilla also reduced their loading time by 2 seconds. This resulted in a 9.5% increase in the revenue and a 25% increase in page views
2010 was all about Speed!
The above study was performed in 2010. That same year, Google announced that they were adding website load time as a ranking factor.
In addition to a poor user experience, website load time affects your search engine ranking and indexing. A slow website means that search engines crawl fewer pages which negatively affects your indexation.
How to check and track your website load time
At Acme Digital Marketing, we use these two tools to check website speed optimization:
There are others, such as https://tools.pingdom.com/, but we we find the information provided by GTMetrix, and Google Page Speed Insights to be the most beneficial.
What does Website Speed Optimization Look like?
ACME Digital Marketing recently underwent a complete rebranding. We basically started over from scratch. When the site was completed, our speed test was rating a "B" and "C" - 2.4 seconds to load (an eternity in web time.)
You could say that website speed optimization is somewhat of an obsession of ours. Our team has spent the better part of a year working on website speed optimization strategies. We configured dozens of websites, and tested them on multiple search engines. Our goal was to find the best strategies that produced the best website load times without sacrificing the user experience.
We decided to put our skills to the test and document the before and after results for our own website.
As with all search engine optimization, website speed optimization is an ongoing task. When we add content to our pages such as videos and images, we will need to do additional optimization. However, going from a page loading time of 2.4 seconds to 0.6 seconds was pretty impressive, if we do say so. But this is not a fluke for ACME, especially for websites we build. You can check out more of our case studies here.
What can you do to improve your website load time?
Other than collaborating with Acme Digital Marketing for your search engine optimization needs, here are our top five suggestions for website speed optimization:
- Image size: Using unoptimized images on your website uses a large amount of server resources, therefore increasing your website load time. We recommend optimizing your images before loading them onto your website with a platform such as Adobe Photoshop. However, if it’s too late for that, we recommend WP Smush or EWWW Image Optimizer. Both have free plugin versions, but if you have a significant amount of images, you may want to consider their premium versions to save time.
- Excessive amounts of plugins: We see this a LOT. There’s a plugin for everything. The problem is, plugins don’t always play nicely with each other. Unless a plugin is 100% necessary and enhances user experience, delete it. If you have deactivated plugins, delete them. Plugins take up a lot of server resources as well.
- Unnecessary features: That full page slider you have on your home page is the bomb! It’s flashy and says “hey, look at me!” But what else does it do? Sliders have their place and can provide value, but they can also be overused and unnecessary. According to Erik Runyon at Weedy Garden, only 1% of visitors actually click on a slide and that’s almost always the first slide. Sliders are huge speed sucks so if you don’t absolutely have to have one, don’t. One large image can have the same visual effect and more impact for your website.
- Extra themes and plugins: I don’t know about you, but what’s up with the “Hello Dolly” plugin that comes with every WordPress site? Do you need it? Delete it. Most WordPress websites also come with at least two themes. Two themes that 90% of the population never use so they are just taking up server space. Delete them.
- Poor hosting/server configuration: Raise your hand if you have GoDaddy. We love GoDaddy. Their customer support is amazing! We used them for over 10 years……until we started beating our heads against all the brick walls in the office over website speed optimization.
We recently completed onpage search engine optimization for a fitness company. Try and try as we did, we just could not get the website load time under 2 seconds without affecting user experience.
We decided to do an actual test of servers/hosting companies. We downloaded an exact replica of the website and uploaded it onto one of our KnownHost servers. We did nothing else. Then we tested both again. Here are the results.
- Increase in page score
- Increase in YSlow Score
- Decrease in fully loaded time by two seconds
- Decrease in total page size
- Increase in desktop score by 9 points
- Increase in mobile score by 28 points!!!!!!!
**BONUS - #6**
Last, but not least, you need a good caching plugin. If you do nothing else, do this one thing.
What is caching?
Caching is the process of storing frequently-accessed data temporarily in a cache. A good caching plugin minimizes the amount of data that is transmitted between the visitor’s browser, the WordPress database, and the web server, therefore producing a faster website load time.
At Acme Digital Marketing, we use and recommend WPRocket. We’ve tried several, but this one seems to play nicely with others. It’s not free, but trust us, the $39 investment is worth it.
**Before starting any website optimization, make sure you’ve backed up your website. Website speed optimization can be tricky, especially if you don’t have a ton of WordPress experience.