One. Two. Three.
Imagine the amount of time it took you to read the words above was all the time you had to convince the average visitor to stay on your website. You don’t have to imagine it, actually, because it’s true.
According to Google, if a web page takes longer than three seconds to load, more than 50% of visitors will leave immediately. And 50% of your total potential profits are leaving with them. Even online commerce juggernaut Amazon has estimated that it would lose 1.6 billion dollars in sales if it slowed its page time down by just one second.
We’ve all heard the saying “patience is a virtue,” but maybe the saying we should really take heed of is “don’t overstay your welcome.” Because it’s not simply a matter of web users being impatient. Rather, it’s that page speed communicates certain things to people.
Page Speed Communicates Authority
A fast-loading webpage is considered an indicator of quality, professionalism, and reliability. You may not think of it in this way, but above even the design and content of your page, loading time is how you make your first impression. And we all know how important first impressions are.
Consider this. If you go to a brick-and-mortar store in the real world and find it a hassle just to get through the front door, how likely are you to want to do business there? Similarly, if your page speed is slow then customers will view your website as inefficient, and if they think your website is inefficient they’ll think your business as a whole is inefficient, too.
The difference is that in the real world you might not feel like getting back into your car and driving to another store, whereas online the back button is always right there at the top of your browser.
Page Speed Gets You Found Online
Customers aren’t the only ones who value speed, either. Search engines like Google consider page load time when determining how high up or how far down a website is placed in search results. In other words, web users might not even get the chance to abandon your site due to a long wait, because they may not see your link at all.
So then, what to do?
First, it’s important to understand what elements of your website affect page speed. There are many, including your web host, how many images are on your page and how big they are, if you have externally hosted media like videos embedded on your page, if you have a lot of ads, widgets, or plugins, how efficient your HTML/CSS is, and how optimized your site is for different web browsers.
Fortunately, there are many ways of testing your page speed. Google, for instance, offers PageSpeed Insights, a free and simple-to-use analysis tool that allows anyone to find out what issues might be slowing down their page, and offers a few general options for how you might be able to speed it up.
A more in-depth solution involves hiring SEO consultant services who can do their own analyses and interpret the data themselves. Such services take a hands-on approach to optimizing your website, ensuring that it is not only as fast and efficient as it can be but also that customers are more likely to find your link during their searches.
Whatever you do, it’s essential to be mindful of the role page speed plays in running a successful online business. In a world where your competitor is just a click away, every millisecond matters.