Did you know that there is a direct link between the speed of your website and its potential to earn revenue? This is because of the impact that slow loading and response times have on internet users. By speeding up your site, you can provide a better user experience and this has been shown to increase conversion rates and income.
What is website speed?
Though the answer may seem straightforward, it is actually a little more complicated. Google’s perspective is to look at three fundamental areas, which it calls the Core Web Vitals. These include how quickly the main part of your content loads on the screen, how quickly the content settles into a fixed position when it loads and how quickly users can interact with a page, e.g., scroll down, click on a button or input text. The faster these are, the better the experience for users.
What affects website speed?
Website speed can be affected by numerous things. At the user’s end, it can be slowed down by the speed of their internet connection, the type of device they are using and even their geographical distance from your server. These things won’t, however, change the user’s expectation that the site should load quickly.
With regard to the website itself, speed can be affected by the number of plugins you use, the type of theme, the size of your images and the amount and types of content on each page.
How site speed affects income
Search for a figure on the internet and the most common statistic you will find is that for every second it takes your website to load, conversion rates will drop by 7%. If, for your website, conversions mean sales, then that’s a 7% drop in revenue. The reason for this is that in today’s high-speed, digital world, consumers are just not prepared to hang around waiting for a page to load or respond. Rather than wait, they’ll hit the back button and go to a different website. Indeed, according to Unbounce, 7 out of 10 users said slow speed would deter them from buying from a retailer.
The opposite, of course, is also true. Speed up a website and conversion rates increase. Food firm, Cook, for example, found that by making its website load just 0.85 seconds faster, conversions increased by 7%.
Another way that loading times affect income is through their impact on search engine ranking. The Core Web Vitals mentioned above are part of the Google ranking criteria, meaning that websites that perform poorly against them will rank lower in search results. Other search engines have similar criteria. As a result, slow-loading websites will get fewer organic visitors and consequently fewer sales.
As more than half of all browsing now takes place on mobile devices, the speed at which your website loads on smartphones has become far more important. Websites face a double whammy here as mobile users expect almost instantaneous loading, while mobile pages take longer to load.
Websites increasingly need to be optimised for mobiles in order to overcome this, something that can require more than the use of a responsive theme.
What you can do to increase site speed
There are a number of solutions for increasing site speed and together these can have a cumulative effect. Firstly, you should get rid of unnecessary plugins or add-ons, as they will slow down the performance of your server and may require additional data to be sent to the user’s browser. Another method is to implement compression, making the data your site sends to a browser much smaller. You can also set up caching, so that static elements of your site are stored on the user’s browser for quicker loading the next time they visit and make use of content delivery networks (CDNs) that store your static content on servers geographically closer to where a user is based. You can also optimise your site for speed by reducing the size (in megabytes, not inches) of images or videos and by removing unnecessary features.
Unfortunately, as technology has advanced, customers not only want faster websites; they also want them with the latest features and tools. This means that the amount of data needing to be sent to a browser is going to increase steadily over time.
The importance of hosting
The quality of your web hosting is crucial to how fast your website performs. Using servers with the latest Intel Xeon processors and SSD drives can provide a remarkable boost to loading times. Upgrading from shared to VPS hosting, meanwhile, prevents your website’s performance from being affected by other users on the server and gives you significantly more storage and processing power to achieve the speeds you need to increase conversion rates.
Online shoppers and search engines both expect websites to load and respond quickly. When they don’t, shoppers will leave and search engine rankings will drop. As a result, the number of visitors and the number of sales a site generates can start to fall. To increase revenue, therefore, faster loading times are essential. This means implementing the measures mentioned above and improving the quality of your hosting.
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