What Site Speed Is
Simply put, website speed (or website performance) refers to how quickly a browser can load fully functional web pages from a specific site. If your website is slow, it will have an adverse impact on site traffic, user experience, and search engine optimization (SEO).
Websites that render slowly can drive users away. Research shows that most visitors expect websites to load in less than three seconds. However, a slow website does more than just drive visitors away.
Why Speed Matters: Case Studies
To measure the quantitative effects of having a slow website, let us look at some case studies of tech companies that shared the impact of site speed.
Greg Linden emphasized the impact of site speed on revenue when he discussed his work on Big Data. Linden invented Amazon’s recommendation engine. In his report, he shared how a 100-millisecond delay can lead to a 1% drop in revenue.
Admittedly, a 1% drop might not seem much. To put things in perspective, let us do some basic calculations. At one point, Amazon reported an estimated revenue of $74.5 billion. Based on Linden’s disclosure, a fraction of a second delay can cost Amazon $745 million in lost revenue annually!
Marissa Mayer, former Google VP and Yahoo! CEO talked about an experiment she ran on Google’s search results page. They tested the effects of displaying more results in the Google searches (10 versus 30).
When they analysed the data, they discovered 25% fewer searches from users that found more search results. After further investigation, they realized that the drop in searches was due to increased page load time.
From the data they have gathered, they concluded that even a few milliseconds of delay can lead to a significant reduction in page impressions.
In a joint presentation, Bing’s Eric Schurman and Google’s Jake Brutlag talked about the impact of web server delays. Bing conducted an experiment to find out what happens if their pages will load 1.5 seconds longer than usual.
Data showed a significant decrease in the following key metrics:
- User satisfaction (-3.8%)
- Number of clicks (-4.4%)
- Revenue per user (-4.3%)
Several years ago, Shopzilla embarked on a major website redesign that lasted two long years. Back then, Shopzilla was receiving between 20 to 29 million unique visitors monthly. Undoubtedly, optimizing the performance of their website is required so they can handle the volume of traffic they are getting.
Phil Dixon, Shopzilla’s VP of Engineering shared some of the lessons they learned from their optimization efforts. For starters, they saw a notable growth in some of their key metrics just by improving their website speed.
- Conversion rate increased by as much as 7 – 12%
- Page views increased by as much as 25%
Average Page Load Times for 2020: How are You Faring?
Mobile As The Top Priority
In 2017, mobile internet usage surpassed that of desktop. Three years later, nothing much has changed. In fact, 53% of website visits came from mobile devices. Data from Backlinko indicates a bleak picture when it comes to mobile internet browsing.
- The average web page takes 87% to load on mobile versus desktop
- The average desktop Time to First Byte (TTFB) speed is 2.5 seconds on mobile versus 1.28 seconds on desktop
- Average time to fully load a webpage on mobile is 27 seconds versus only 10 seconds on mobile
Studies show the average speed index is 11.4 seconds on mobile and 4.7 seconds on desktop. Google’s best practice is to aim for a speed index of under 3 seconds.
Testing Your Site
There are several tools you can use to measure site performance.
- WebPage Test – This is considered the industry standard for measuring site performance. Results are gathered from real browsers that are running common operating systems.
- Google PageSpeed Insights – Provides actionable insights on the best way to optimize your web page speed.
Be Better than the Industry Standard: 5 Ways to Make Your WordPress Site Load Faster
1. Get A Good Hosting Plan
One of the simplest ways to speed up your website is to look at your server. Most people go for shared hosting at first. However, as your site grows in content and usage, they can also get slower. To prevent this from happening, consider upgrading your hosting plan.
You can make your site load fast on any host as long as they are running LiteSpeed and PHP Ver 7.4. One of PHP’s most exciting features is its preloading. It works by providing the ability to have a faster and cleaner code and speeding up the script execution.
When improving page load time, your hosting package is one of the first areas you need to look into. Don’t hesitate to upgrade your hosting package if you want to improve performance, increase conversions, and boost speed.
2. Invest In Fast Themes
While easy to install, purchasing themes from ThemeForest will not guarantee your website will load fast. These themes are often made using free Visual Page Builders like WPBakery Pro. While visually appealing, the code and the scripts used in the themes can slow your website down significantly.
Opt for themes that are coded to be quick and lightweight. If you are considering using Visual Builders, you can go for WordPress themes like Elementor and Beaver Builder.
It would also be a smart idea to go for pure WordPress sites like GeneratePress. WordPress sites with no builders will not only make your site load faster, they also come with easy-to-use themes.
3. Take Advantage Of Caching
Page caching is when the web pages store static files (i.e. images, documents, and HTML) that allows site visitors to have quick access to the page. With caching, the database won’t have to retrieve every file each time there is a request.
In most cases however, caching only works for repeat users. For first time site visitors, the page has to load the files at least once before it is stored. If you are a WordPress user, there are some plugins you can install that will enable caching.
- WP Super Cache – This is considered ideal for high-traffic sites with underpowered servers
- W3 Total Cache – This is one of the most popular performance plugins available
4. Optimize Your Images
Many sites commit the mistake of uploading images that are not optimized. This can seem harmless, but it can actually cause the site to load slower. Image optimization involves the saving and delivering of images in the smallest file possible without compromising its overall quality.
Image formats like WebP provide top lossy and lossless compression for images. This means you can create smaller but rich images that can help contribute to site speed. ImageOptim is a free program Mac users can use to optimize compression parameters and remove junk metadata and unnecessary color profiles.
WordPress also comes with a free plugin called Smush. It works by removing hidden information that is present in the images. Images that are uploaded to WordPress are scanned so unnecessary data are removed. The file size is also decreased without affecting the image quality.
5. Minimize Your Plugins
The following starter plugins can keep your site operating at superior speed:
- LiteSpeed Cache – This acceleration plugin comes with an exclusive server-level cache. It also has a set of image optimization features.
- Yoast SEO – This plugin can help with your search engine optimization process.
- Contact Form 7 – This plugin will allow visitors to get in touch with you through emails from your website. It also gives you access to several contact forms that you can customize.
- Loginizer – This plugin can keep your site safe from phishing and hacking. It can also stop brute force attacks by preventing IP login when the login retries have been maximized.
Use a content delivery network (CDN)
A content delivery network or CDN is a network of optimized servers around the world that delivers content to users based on geographic location. This can translate to big performance boost for site users.
A CDN often stores the following:
- CSS files
- JS files
- Other uploaded files like PDFs and videos
Some of the most popular CDNs are:
- Amazon CloudFront
One downside of CDNs is they can be costly. However, for large sites with lots of visitors from around the world, CDNs are considered a necessity.
While clear branding, great messaging, and quality SEO content can help create a great website, all those good elements can be compromised if your site is slow. When it comes to websites, speed is key. Regardless of the type of business you are running or the purpose of your site, a fast website can help create a more optimized user experience as well as more robust conversion rates.
Gareth van Rensburg
Gareth van Rensburg actively supports the relationship-building process at Innzone Hosting a reliable, fast, affordable, and superior web host. Covering all the technical aspects for your website, making you feel safe and secure from hackers as you continue online business.