How long does it take the average user to load your website? Page load times is the question that a surprising number of webmasters are unable to answer. When you’re busy building content, performing on-site/off-site SEO, and doing the countless number of other tasks related to your business, it’s easy to overlook something as simple as load times – but long load times can hurt your site’s conversions in more ways than one. Test your web page load times here.
Google and Amazon Conduct Load Time Studies
In 2008, Amazon conducted a study in which it found that every 100ms increase in user load times resulted in a 1% decrease in sales. Given the fact that Amazon is the world’s largest e-retailer, earning approximately $74.45 billion in annual sales, that’s a ton of lost revenue. Assuming Amazon.com’s load times increased by just 100ms for an entire year, it would lose an average of $744 million.
Google conducted a similar study of its own, noting that every half second increase in user load times resulted in a 20% decrease in traffic.
Does this mean your site will experience the same results? Not necessarily, but these studies reaffirm the importance of optimizing websites to achieve faster load times. The bottom line is that long load times will reduce your traffic and lower your conversions to at least some degree.
Speed and Search Engine Ranking
Load times also play a direct role in a website’s search engine ranking. Google announced the use of load times as a ranking signal several years ago, noting its relation to the user experience. By optimizing your site to load faster, you’ll encourage higher rankings in Google and other search engines. (Matt Cutts post)
“Like us, our users place a lot of value in speed — that’s why we’ve decided to take site speed into account in our search rankings. We use a variety of sources to determine the speed of a site relative to other sites,” wrote Google in a blog post back in 2010.
Internet Users Today Are Impatient
With new broadband Internet connections taking over, users have become increasingly impatient – and as such, they are less likely to wait around for slow websites to load. According to a 2009 study conducted by Forrester Research, Internet users expect pages to load within 2 seconds. At the three second-mark is when they typically click the back button in their web browser. Just three years prior, Forrester Research found that Internet users expected pages to load within four seconds.
Even if a user lands on your website, he or she may back out rather than visiting another page due to its long load times. Known as a bounce, it is is a clear SEO signal to Google. If your site has 100 referrals from Google, and 20 of those visits back out of your site, this calculates to a 20% bounce rate. The higher your site’s bounces rates, the lower your SERP.
Here are a few tips to lower your page load times:
- Choose a business level host, not a server-farm hosting service
- Optimize your images
- Use a CDN for your images
- Enable Browser Caching
For WordPress sites, use the above plus the following:
- Reduce the number of plugins
- Cut items in your trash, drafts, and pingbacks
- Enable GZip
- Minimize redirects
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About Glenn Brooks
Glenn Brooks is the founder of WebWize, Inc. WebWize has provided web design, development, hosting, SEO and email services since 1994. Glenn graduated from SWTSU with a degree in Commercial Art and worked in the advertising, marketing, and printing industries for 18 years before starting WebWize.