We’ve all heard the story of The Hare And The Tortoise. Growing up it’s been ingrained into us that slow and steady will eventually win the race – in the digital world, this isn’t the case. The web moves fast: what is on-trend one day will be a thing of the past the next. People have grown to expect things in an instant; anything more than a couple of seconds will feel like a lifetime, and quite frankly, a waste of their precious time. Now, this may sound slightly exaggerated, but the harsh reality is that it’s not.
If your site takes just four seconds to load, this will increase your bounce rate by almost 40%. And this number continues to rise as the seconds pile up. With that in mind, you’re probably wondering what a ‘good’ page speed is? Ideally, you’ll want to aim for 1 – 2 seconds. So, yes, the standards are high, but whether you’re a B2B or B2C business, it’s fundamental to get it right.
Why page speed matters
We’ve already mentioned the impact your page speed can have on your bounce rate, but it doesn’t end there. Having fast-loading pages can also:
- Increase conversions; on average, reducing your load time by one second can increase conversions by up to 7%
- Improve SEO; some of the top SEO ranking factors are speed-dependent
- Increase revenue; retail giant, Walmart, saw a 1% increase in revenue for every 100ms they improved their load time by
- Gain a competitive advantage; with just 15% of websites operating at an acceptable speed, if you can optimise yours, you’ll have a significant edge over competitors
- Increase page views per session
- Increase consumer satisfaction; a one-second delay can cause up to a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction
Are you up to speed?
So, now you understand the importance of page speed, you’re likely wondering how you can check whether your site is up to speed. And the solution is simple. To find out your site’s average page load time, simply head over to Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool, where you’ll uncover a range of metrics to help you understand and optimise your page speed.
Some of the metrics highlighted in PageSpeed Insights include:
- First Contentful Paint (FCP) – this records the first point at which a user can see any piece of content on their screen. A fast FCP is fundamental as it shows the user something is happening and encourages them to stick around.
- Speed Index (SI) – this metric measures how quickly your above-the-fold page content takes to load.
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – your LCP tracks the speed at which your largest piece of content takes to load and be ready to be interacted with. This metric is one of the three Core Web Vitals, so should be monitored across all pages. A good LCP should be 2.5 seconds or less, and anything above 4 seconds is considered poor and must be addressed.
- Time to Interactive (TTI) – as the name suggests, TTI measures how long it takes for any interactive elements to become functional. This metric is important as it tells you how long users have to wait before they can use your site; whilst fast loading visual aspects are great, if your TTI is slow, this can cause frustration.
- Total Blocking Time (TBT) – linking with the above, TBT measures the time between the FCP and TTI. So put simply: it measures load responsiveness. A low TBT is essential for ensuring your page is usable and avoiding user frustration.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – another Core Web Vital used as a ranking factor by Google is your CLS, which measures your page’s visual stability – the lower the CLS, the better.
How to improve your page speed
Perhaps you’re looking at your PageSpeed Insights data and feeling slightly disheartened? Well, if you’re looking to speed up your success, try considering the following for each of your web pages:
- Optimise any images: whilst images are great for engaging your audience and making your site look more appealing, if not properly optimised, they can cause big delays. With this in mind, before uploading any images, you should compress and optimise them by changing the size, file formats, using software, such as TinyJPG, and/ or appropriate plugins.
- Limit your number of redirects: each time a page redirects, the page rendering gets delayed as an additional HTTP request-response is triggered. So, keep redirects to a minimum and avoid them if possible.
- Minify code: by removing unnecessary code, you will reduce the size of your files, making them cleaner, easier to combine, and yes, you guessed it, faster to load.
- Pick the right web hosting provider: whilst it can be tempting to cut costs and opt for a cheaper web hosting provider, this can have a big impact on your site’s performance – this includes page speed. Instead, opt for a performance-focused solution to ensure your site is optimised and fit for purpose.
- Use a content distribution network (CDN): a CDN works to minimise network latency by reducing the distance between the server and user by hosting and delivering copies of your site’s static content from a geographically distributed network of servers.
Now armed with the tools and tips needed to help your site win the race to the top of the search engine results pages, there should be nothing holding you back from starting your journey to a faster site. If you are looking for an extra helping hand, why not contact us for a free consultation to discover how we can help take your business to the next level?