Is website speed important?

Website speed test and search ranking analysis

In a word, yes! Let’s break this down into reasons why a slow website is bad news for you and your readers:

People are impatient
Put simply, people are impatient. If your website does not load within a few seconds (many say 2-3 seconds), the reader will give up and go elsewhere for that information, product or service. Generally people scan a web page rather than read it. If the main elements do not load quickly then it’s offski time.

Google rankings reflect your website’s speed
Google has taken into account page load time and site speed in its ranking algorithms for some time now. As early as 2011 Google said “we’re striving to make the whole web fast”. Slow sites, especially on mobiles, rank lower than their faster counterparts. A sluggish website means poor user experience, which in turns means less promotion in the search engines.

First impressions last
A fast loading homepage sends out a clear message to visitors that your website is professional and reliable. Like your business service. Don’t turn away potential customers at the first hurdle – around 80% will never return.

How do I improve my website’s speed?

There are lots of things you can do to improve a website’s speed. Your designer and developer should work together to create a fast-loading website that still looks great, with engaging content, but this isn’t always the case. Here are a few tips to help you get your website to be Google-friendly in terms of performance and usability:

  • Use a preloader animation – a clock, loading bar or spinning icon – so that the user knows the page is still loading.
  • Ensure your mobile responsive version is lightweight and speedy. Use smaller images if necessary, leave out less important content, avoid heavy use of scripts and anything else that may slow down the page load.
  • Upgrade your web hosting plan to a more robust system with better performance. Look at RAM, bandwidth and contention rates. Sometimes the cheapest hosting does not do you or your website any favours in the long run – you may be saving £5 per month on bargain hosting but how many potential customers are you losing due to slow service?
  • Ask a web developer to evaluate your website – run some speed tests and check for clunky code, structural integrity, unnecessary plugins and scripts, slow-loading external media, badly optimised content and so on.

If you’d like us to carry out a website evaluation for you, just ask. We audit sites all the time and using a range of tools and web know-how we can improve performance, user experience and conversions for most. The last such project resulted in a homepage load time of 0.5 seconds, which even we were impressed with!

Just a final note on WordPress themed websites. Although very commonly used, these can be very slow to load, mostly due to the amount of functionality loaded in the code of each page. There are various techniques that we use to speed up pages but a bespoke website build will always result in a faster loading website. Unfortunately bespoke sites are more expensive due to the increased development time, so it’s a balancing act between speed and budget. Again we’re happy to discuss options with you if you’re looking to commission a new website – call us on 07766 706049.

“Fast websites have more visitors, who visit more pages, for longer period of times, who come back more often, and are more likely to purchase products or click ads. In short, faster websites make users happy, and happy users promote your website through linking and sharing. All of these things contribute to improving search engine rankings.” – moz.com