Site speed (also called page load speed) is a measure of how quickly your site’s page or a URL on your site loads in a visitors browser. Each URL generates a number of requests to your web server, asking for the files, media and information that make up that particular page. There’s a lot that goes on in the background.
- Your browser asks, “Can I have this page?”
- The web server says, “Sure, here it is.”
- Your browser asks, “Uh, can I have the images that are part of this page?”
- The web server says, “Oh, sure, here they are.”
So, that's oversimplified, but there is a lot of back and forth “negotiation” for each page view. The faster your browser can talk with the web server and receive the information, the faster the page loads and you see the visible results of your request. Streamlining those requests by combining those you can, compressing things that can be, can make a huge difference.
Search Engines and Site Speed
The search engines consider speed as a ranking factor. This reason has gotten a lot of press but I don’t think it’s the most important reason. Speed is only one of a huge list of factors that are taken into account when rankings are calculated and there are so many other benefits to be gained by having a faster loading site.
What are some of the other reasons you might want to have a faster site?
Slower Sites Lose
We’ve all been there – waiting for a page to load, and feeling the impatience for reading the article, watching the video, buying the product, whatever we’d come there to do.
With content marketing, impressing your audience is important. Slow sites, with pages that don’t load quickly, don't impress and will lose visitors. People won’t stick around.
- 75% of visitors won’t return to a site that takes longer than 4 seconds to load.
- Increasing page response time from 2 seconds to 8 seconds increases page abandonment (think bounces) by 33%. (Gomez)
- The average impact of a 1 second delay is 7% reduction in conversions.
- Bing found that a 2 second delay led to a 1.8% drop in queries, a 3.75% drop in clicks, and a 4.3% loss in revenue per visitor. It really adds up, no matter the size of your site.
Faster Sites Make More: That's more conversions, sales, leads or whatever your metric is.
- Walmart found a sharp decline in conversion rate when the site load time increased from 1 to 4 seconds. A 1 second decrease in load time equals up to a 2% increase in CVR (Conversion Ratio – conversions to clicks)
- Google found that an extra 500ms in load time decreased traffic by 20%
- Amazon found that a 100ms increase in load time (that’s a fraction of a second!) resulted in a 1% decrease in sales.
Faster sites get more user engagement
Faster sites keep people around longer. Sites with faster loading pages get more pageviews. Faster sites get more interaction, more user engagement, better user satisfaction and that means more social activity, too.
Whatever your goals are, a faster site is better for your bottom line.
How Fast is Fast?
Gomez did a study of U.S. Last Mile Benchmarks for various industries that shows the best, average and worst load times by industry. This should give you some idea of what to look for: