Website Speed Optimization: Why Does It Matter?

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You’ve put a lot of labor and love into your website, working diligently to create a site that’ll interest and serve your current and potential customers. But there may be one element you haven’t thought of yet – website speed optimization – a critical component that can’t be overlooked.

Website speed optimization is the process, tools and strategy used to make your website as fast as possible. Page speed refers to how quickly it takes content to load on your site. You may be wondering why speed matters. There are several reasons you should pay attention to your website speed, and two of the biggest are Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and conversion rates.

Web Speed Optimization and SEO

Search engines have considered website speed as a ranking factor for several years. Google first announced site speed would be factored into their search rankings in 2010. Since then, a website’s load time and performance have continued to grow in importance.

In 2021, Google made a major update to its set of ranking signals. It announced that page experience metrics would now play a role in how websites rank. Google will determine a website’s usefulness and promote it based on whether it provides a better user experience, and speed is a significant factor.

So, what does all of this mean for you? Speed has become an indispensable factor in how search engines, and in particular Google, rank your website. For your website to rank well on Google, which also impacts how well your Google Business Profile ranks, your pages need to be optimized to ensure fast loading times. The higher you appear in search results, the more organic traffic and customers you’ll receive. This in turn leads to the second positive impact of having a website speed optimization strategy – more conversions and business.

Website Speed and Conversion Rates

How long it takes your website’s pages to load will significantly impact whether or not visitors become clients and customers. Site performance has a big and measurable effect on overall conversion rates. Studies consistently show that the faster a page loads, the more likely someone is to perform the targeted action on that page.

One study found that 40% of people will abandon a website altogether if a page takes longer than 3 seconds to load. 53% of web visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Additionally, a 1-second delay in page response can significantly reduce conversions. A website that loads in 1 second has a conversion rate 3x higher than a site that loads in 5 seconds.

Now that you understand why website speed optimization is so important, it’s time to make sure your website speed is where it needs to be.

How to Get Started

You can begin by using Google’s free tool, Page Speed Insights to look at your website’s mobile and desktop performance. This will show you how your site is currently doing. And, hey, maybe you’ll learn you’re already nailing it! If your website scores above 90, you’re in great shape. Congrats and virtual high-five if that’s where you’re at! Plus, now you’ll save yourself a few minutes by not having to read any further.

But in case you’re like many sites with a less-than-ideal score, focusing on a speed optimization strategy can positively impact your business and bottom line. The Page Speed Insights tool will provide a brief overview of things that will improve your site’s performance.

Two common culprits causing pages to load slowly are large, unoptimized images and badly designed coding. Additionally, large file sizes, low-quality web hosting, complicated designs, excessive flash content, and other such factors, can all contribute to slow load times.

Implementing an Effective Website Speed Optimization Strategy

A few years back, Google published a report on industry benchmarks for page speed. The report can be summed up with this one line, “Faster is better and less is more.” To ensure successful website speed optimization, there are several things to keep in mind.

You’ll want to develop and regularly maintain a website speed optimization strategy that:

  • Eliminates render-blocking resources
  • Leverages browser caching
  • Improves images, including implementing lazy load images
  • Minifies and compresses JS and CSS files
  • Reviews widgets
  • Ensures efficient website hosting

Plug-ins will also be a key component of your overall speed strategy. Both leveraging plug-ins that improve page speed, and eliminating unnecessary ones that are causing your site to load slowly.

Don’t Forget About Mobile

When focusing on your page speed, it’s also extremely important to optimize your website for mobile. Search engines consider mobile pages separately when ranking. This means that when someone searches from their cell phone, they see a different set of results based on mobile page loading time.

And mobile searchers are a growing percentage of all website traffic. In fact, the most recent stats show that over 55% of web traffic comes from mobile devices. It’s no surprise then that mobile friendliness has become an increasingly vital element in Google’s algorithms. In 2018, Google made page speed a ranking factor for mobile search results. The Page Speed Insights tool will also provide you with an overview of how your mobile site performs.

Conclusion

Focusing on website speed optimization is paramount to growing your business and winning more customers. Once you’ve optimized your website speed, you will want to run a speed test at least once a month using Google’s Page Speed Insights tool, looking at both mobile and desktop performance. It will also be important that if you build out your website with additional pages, the design takes into account factors that improve or decrease website speed.

If you’d like to learn more about implementing a website speed optimization strategy for your brand, feel free to set up some time with us. We’d love to work together to improve your site’s speed performance and ultimately, boost your business.

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