First let’s take a quick look at what we mean by site speed and what we would classify as good site speed, then we can understand better why it is so important to our online business and our customers.
Site speed refers to a collection of metrics that are used to measure your website’s performance, specifically relating to how fast your website loads when a person visits the site. In essence, how quickly the browser (for example Chrome, Firefox, Edge) is able to retrieve and load the content on your site to form fully functional web pages that people can use.
Google recommends that a website should load in under two seconds, although at Google they aim internally for a page load of under half a second. That’s fast! There are some interesting statistics about website speeds which are worth paying attention to:
We will touch briefly at the end of this article on where you can reliably test your site speed; however, if you are interested in learning more about some of the most important metrics concerning this you can check out this helpful article on web.dev.
Now we know what we mean by site speed, and what we are aiming for, it may already become obvious to you why a fast website is important from a business perspective. Let’s explore some of these together now.
You only ever get to make that first impression once, and with an insatiable amount of online competitors just waiting to grab your customers, it’s now more important than ever to delight them from the start. That means that when they come calling (or clicking) you are right there without delay.
We’ve already seen that customers expect/demand speed when browsing the web these days. Customers are more empowered than ever before and can easily take their business anywhere. This normally comes down to multiple touch points and interactions with a company, a fast website being just one of them. You want to deliver on their expectations by serving up the fastest site possible.
Google, as a search engine, is trying to create the very best user experience in the world, and that means serving up the most relevant and important information every time someone searches online. They use a number of key ‘ranking factors’ to do this.
One of the big concerns to Google, just like with the rest of the web right now, is serving up that information as quickly as possible. This means that if it is between a site which loads slowly vs a site which is very fast, Google is more likely to rank the fast site higher.
Ranking higher in those search results = more traffic = more sales.
This goes hand-in-hand with the SEO point above. A fast website can help signal to Google that your site should be ranking higher in the results, and a high bounce rate can be detrimental to those SEO efforts. Bounce rate is the percentage of users who leave a website after viewing only one page.
There are many factors that could potentially increase this percentage, such as lack of relevant information, outdated information, poor user experience and, of course, slow loading times.
Before we wrap this up, there are some very handy free online tools to help you measure where your website is currently at right now. My favourite – and the industry standard – is the site speed tool by Google.
Some others we also like are GT Metrix and Pingdom. Sometimes a combination of a couple of these will give the most accurate picture, but one thing is for sure, you should always try to make your website as fast as possible. And hopefully this article has helped show you why it is so important.