Website Page Speed: Why It Matters and How to Improve It

by Silverback Strategies | July 7, 2020

Your business’s website could have the best content in your industry, but if your page load time is not up to par, your conversion rates and organic traffic will suffer. In fact, 40% of your website visitors will leave if your page takes longer than 3 seconds to load

That’s why it’s especially important for businesses to not only optimize the front end, but the backend as well. It’s the only way to provide your visitors with an optimal user experience. 

Today, we’re going to dive deeper into why your page site speed contributes significantly to the success of your online businesses goals. We’re about to address why site speed is so impactful to your website and how you can start improving it right away. 

3 seconds isn’t a long time… so you have to be on top of it.

Why Site Speed Matters

If you aren’t yet convinced that site speed can significantly impact your business’s success, we’re about to convince you now. Site speed directly correlates to your website’s bounce rate, organic traffic, and conversion rate. Here’s how:

Site speed and bounce rate

The lower your site speed, the higher your bounce rate. The bounce rate of a website is defined by the percent of visitors who land on your page and then leave without navigating to another page on your site. People expect pages to load within 2 seconds. For every second longer it takes, a significant amount of potential customers are lost. When your overall bounce rate for a web page is high, Google views your website as being irrelevant to the searcher’s query. 

Site speed and organic traffic

When Google sees that your website isn’t providing your visitors with an optimal experience, it will negatively impact your position in the SERP results. The likelihood of your webpages dropping to the second page is higher. According to Backlinko, in 2019, only 0.78% of Google searchers clicked on something from the second page. With less people clicking on your links, your overall organic traffic is going to take a hit.

See also: Silverback partners with eCornell to increase organic rankings by 382%

Site speed and conversion rates

A website’s conversion rate is the percentage of people who complete an action out of the total number of people who visit your website. This could be filling out a form, signing up for email, or purchasing your product or service. For every second delayed, your conversion rate will be reduced by 7%. Even if visitors decide to wait 3 seconds or longer for your page to load, the overall experience of the customer will impact their decision to purchase from you. 

How do you know what your site speed is?

Google’s page speed test will tell you right away what your current page load time is for both mobile and desktop. All you have to do is put your URL in and then wait a few seconds for your results. This page speed test will tell you the overall results, where there are opportunities for improvement, and the diagnostics for that specific page.

What page speed score should you have?

  • Good – 90 to 100
  • Average – 50 to 89
  • Poor – 0 to 49

To get a better idea for an ideal number for where your site speed should be, you’ll want to look at what the average score is for your primary competitors. That will give you a solid baseline for what the expectations are for your site’s speed within your industry. Don’t forget to test both the mobile and desktop version of your website, as those scores will be different from one another. 

Another free site speed tool is called Think With Google. This is a favorite for many marketing executives because it allows people to quickly compare their site’s speed to competitors. Additionally, this tool allows eCommerce brands to see the site speed’s impact on overall revenue.

How to improve your website’s page speed

Based on your results from Google’s page speed test, you’ll be able to get a better idea on what you need to do to improve your site speed. We’re going to briefly discuss two of the more common issues: how to optimize your images and how to leverage caching.

Optimizing and loading your Images properly

Images are great for your users’ experience, but only if they will load quickly. You might think that uploading the highest-resolution and largest image possible can only improve your site, but it can actually do more damage than good if done incorrectly. Especially considering browsers have a maximum resolution and image size that they can display. If your image exceeds that maximum, you’re essentially slowing down your page’s speed and receiving no benefit from it.

So, what’s the best image format for you to use?

Google’s WebP, also known as next-gen format, is a highly recommended format for images. It has the ability to compress images up to 30% better than any other image type. The downside is that this format is not yet accepted on all browsers. As a result, you’ll want to replace your standard image code with one that gives the browser an option to select which format it’s most compatible with.

Even though all of your images will soon be compressed, you’ll still want to be mindful of how many you have on each page. Ideally, you’ll want to stay under four images per page. The more images you have, the more HTTP requests have to connect to the server at a given time. Having too many images could slow down your page significantly.

After you convert all of your images to the proper format, you’ll want to take a look at how your website’s server is loading those images on your page. A technique known as deferring offscreen images is worth checking out, as it can improve your overall site speed.

Offscreen images are those that appear lower on the page that don’t affect the initial look of your website. By deferring these images, you’re telling your browser which ones should be loading right away and which ones can wait. This allows visitors to start seeing your website’s information sooner rather than later.

FREE WHITE PAPER: Should You Outsource Your SEO Strategy?

Leverage caching

Leveraging caching means that you’re telling your browser how long it should store a given web page’s images, CSS, and JavaScript locally. This results in a user’s browser having to download less data while navigating your pages, and ultimately speeding up its load time. 

You have the ability to specify whether that data is stored for a week, or even a full year within your web site’s .htaccess file. Google recommends a year; however, if you are planning to make changes to your website in the near future, you’ll want to have a shorter time frame set in place.

Remember, you have less than 3 seconds to load your pages before 40% of your visitors will leave your site. Spend time optimizing it according to SEO best practices. You’ll notice an impact on your conversion rates, bounce rates, and organic traffic. Trust us, your hard work will not go unnoticed by search engines or your users. 

Work With the SEO Experts

Have questions on how to improve your site’s speed? Contact us online or call us at (571) 234-5784.

Silverback Strategies

Louis is our COO and has a passion for all things Tech. When Louis is not dissecting Apple's latest earnings report, you'll find him training for his next triathlon somewhere in the hills of Virginia.

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