February 27, 2017

Why Website Speed Is So Important

Published: 27 February 2017 Updated March 2022

Does the speed of your website actually have an effect on your sales? If surveys done by Akamai and Gomez.com are anything to go by, then the answer is yes. 47% of consumers expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less, with 40% of people leaving the website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Faster speeds ensure there is still a high user experience. If users aren’t having a good experience, they’re going to leave the website and visit a competitor’s instead. In fact, a one-second delay in page load time will account for an 11 percent drop in pageviews.  

So what impact does a slow website have on sales? Walmart decided to test what difference page speed made. They increased their speed performance and found:

  • Every one second of improvement resulted in a 2% increase in conversions
  • Revenue grew by up to 1% for every 100 ms of improvement.

Going by this test, it was clear there is a direct correlation between even a small improvement in website speed and amount of conversions.

Impact on Google

Page speed doesn’t only matter to the customers, it matters to Google as well. Back in 2010, Google’s algorithm changed to include page speed as a factor it measured. That means websites with a slow load speed would be penalised and see their search engine result slip. However, you don’t need to panic - the algorithm change does not drastically affect rankings, unless your website is extremely slow. After all, this is just one of the many factors that affect a website’s ranking. Other factors, such as relevance of a page, is far more heavily weighed than page speed.   

Google also announced that page speed may become a factor for mobile pages as well. A future algorithm update is set to continue making websites more mobile-friendly. Businesses cannot simply think about the speed of their desktop website - they also need to consider whether they are mobile-friendly and whether this is fast and responsive. Kissmetrics found if a mobile site takes longer than 10 seconds to load, 30 percent will abandon the website. This is a huge percentage of potential customers who are abandoning a website before it’s even loaded, just because it’s too slow.

Source: Kissmetrics

So what are the causes of slow page speed?

If your page is loading slowly and costing you conversions, you’re going to want to know what you can do to fix it. Some factors that cause a page to load slowly include:

  • Themes and plugins: both the theme of your website, and any plugins you use, can greatly change your loading speed. Make sure your themes and plugins are always updated to the latest version, that your theme isn’t too complicated and you’re not using too many plugins.
  • Web hosting: you get what you pay for, and the same goes for web hosting. A cheap web host could potentially lead to a slower pagespeed. When you’re looking at hosting, consider the size of your business and your website’s size and functionality before choosing a host.
  • Images: a website full of images is always going to be slower to load. Instead of using HD images, consider if you can compress images, while also maintaining their quality. This means your website will still look aesthetically pleasing while not compromising page speed.
  • Ads: not only will too many ads annoy you customers, it will also slow page speed. Consider what ads are necessary and how many you want on each page.

Once you know what you can alter on your website to improve its speed, you need to know how to measure its speed.

Some tools worth using include:

While your rankings won’t be overly affected by a slow website**, it will have a big impact in traffic and conversions. It’s best to continually monitor your website speed, and determine what is causing the slow page load. Doing so will ensure you have a user-friendly website which will continue to rank well and receive high conversions.

Updated March 2022

**I wrote that in 2017 when it wasn't 100% clear what Google did with the "UX data" - we now know.

Rankings WILL be affected if your website is slow and this clearly been the case for a couple of years. The User Experience (UX) of Google searchers is aggregated into "long click" and "short click" data from, this is also referred to as "dwell time". This is clearly an important ranking factor and you must consider speed as part of the UX effort to make your website as good as it can be. The Following Video from our YouTube channel explains "Pogo Sticking" the situation where Google searchers hop in and out of websites and how that can impact rankings of each website.

Ben Maden

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