Page speed is one of the most overlooked aspects of SEO. Slow page speeds lead to higher bounce rates and lower conversion rates. The user experience tanks before visitors get a chance to browse costing you repeat traffic and potential sales.
Page speed is also a part of how Google ranks your website. Slow speeds can actually hurt your SERP despite how amazing your website might be. Great content and innovative products are useless if no one can find you!
To put it briefly, page speed refers to the length of time it takes your website to load webpages. Articles, blog posts, product pages, and any other page all log speeds and fast load times can benefit (or hinder) their performance. If your pages are not loading quickly, head to Google’s Page Speed Insights. The tool will help gauge your current speeds, but more importantly, it will help give you ways to improve your website.
Why is it such a big deal? Here are three reasons slow page speeds are killing your website.
The pages don’t show up on search queries
Page load times aren’t a new qualifier for page rankings, but in 2018, Google announced the factor would have a heavier impact on mobile rankings. We focus on mobile in particular because the majority of traffic is coming via mobile devices. In 2018, according to a study by Perficient Digital, 58% of visits to websites were from a mobile device. The majority of those visits come via search queries.
The lesson is that page rankings for desktop and on mobile are weighting page speeds more heavily than ever. Despite better content, your website may drop below competitors’ pages based on nothing more than load times. As we all know, more than 90% of clicks from a search come from the first page. If you fall below that, your website starts to become invisible.
Visitors are the worst critics of slow page speeds
The most reliable critique of your website isn’t Google’s scoring algorithm. It comes from your traffic. We measure success in clicks and bounce rates. We want to know how many people are visiting our websites. How long are they staying on the site? Are they visiting multiple pages? Page speed plays a vital role in getting positive answers to these questions.
The bounce rate is when someone visits one page and immediately leaves a website. We use traffic analytics to track bounces to make sure our pages are performing well. High bounce rates are an extreme red flag for administrators and content managers. Not only are people leaving the site quickly, we don’t really know why.
The problem may be the page design. They may not like the content. They may give up on the website if the page loads too slowly. There are several. We can’t tell by only looking at numbers. We have to test different changes to the page to see what works.
Luckily, if it’s the page speed, we can find out with a simple test, and take steps to fix the issues. But we’ll get to that later.
Website traffic is very impatient
The main reason slow page speeds are such a killer is the fact that web traffic is very impatient. We are looking for information and expect to see it immediately. WiFi speeds are measured in megabits per second. For reference, a megabit is one million bits (unit of data). Most carriers provide anywhere from 15Mbps to one Gigabit (1,000 megabits) per second. If that sounds like a lot of information, it is. Wireless providers like Verizon’s LTE regularly provide from 2-15 Mbps meaning download speeds are incredibly fast on mobile carriers.
This availability of blisteringly quick speeds only makes our standards as users higher. If a website can get 15 million bits of digital information to us in one second, we expect it to be that fast. If not, we get bored or frustrated and leave. This can happen in four seconds or less.
According to the Nielsen Family, websites have between seven and nine seconds to make a good first impression. If we can’t grab their attention in seven seconds, they’ll go visit another site. Imagine now that four of those seven seconds are spent waiting for the page to load. It’s crucial time we can’t waste.
The proof that slow page speeds drive away traffic is right there in the math. You only have seven seconds. Make them count!
How to Increase Your Page Speed
If it turns out that slow page speeds are the cause of your high bounce rates, fear not! There are resources to help fix that. Start by getting a health check to see where the problem areas are. Start by shrinking or eliminating images. Use a cache, which saves data for future reference. In other words, the website won’t have to load from scratch each time. Work with a development specialist to find other ways to help your website perform better, and stop losing traffic due to slow speeds!
Slow page speeds are painful. They hurt your page rankings with search engines making your website harder to find. They cause high bounce rates meaning people won’t stick around for the rest of your content. They drive away impatient traffic that doesn’t want to wait the four extra seconds for a page to load.
Making an effort and correcting some small issues can have a major impact on website traffic. Remember, you don’t have to be an expert developer to make these improvements. Get a page speed check, and use it to help find the problems you need to solve.
When you’re ready to get started improving your slow page speeds, let us know, and we’ll get it done!