Is your site too slow for Google or your customers?

 In Google, Page Speed, User Experience

There are over 200 factors Google considers when deciding where your site sits in their search rankings. Today we focus on speed, the one factor that could really annoy Google and make your website harder to find than organic Quinoa in a Kmart.

In this age of instant gratification, if your site doesn’t load immediately, it risks being abandoned quickly. In fact, studies show that the average online surfer expects a page to load in two seconds or less, down from four seconds in 2006. Apparently up to 40% of visitors will abandon a website if it does not load within three seconds.

The speed at which your website loads is not strictly a result of a pricey broadband connection. It can also be affected by your hosting service, poorly coded WordPress themes, unreliable plugins and more.

One of the most important reasons for addressing website slowdown is Google. That’s right, since 2010 Google has factored website speed when determining search engine rankings. In other words, slower sites are positioned lower in the search results.

Not only will a slow site annoy Google and effect your search rankings, but it could also make your customers cranky and kill conversions (converting visitors into paying customers).

Matt Schmitz, Web Performance Engineer at Dotcom-Monitor summed it up nicely in a recent interview:

“There’s also a relatively big connection to a slow-loading website and user trust; users inherently see a poor performing website as ‘untrustworthy’ and this can have a major impact on conversions, branding, and all sorts of things that are important to businesses.”Matt Schmitz

He adds: “This doesn’t just affect businesses; it affects everyone. If you’re a blogger looking to build an audience, then your ‘conversion’ metric is new readers. If your content loads slowly, or its load time lacks consistency, your audience may see you as untrustworthy or simply not authoritative.”

Website owners need to pay attention to page speed if they want to offer a positive online experience, create happy customers, and have amazing conversion rates.

Test Your Site’s Load Time:

Our two favourite places to test website load times are:

gtmetrix.com

Gtmetrix aggregates information from Google Page Speed Insights and Yahoo’s Yslow to give your site a grade from A to F.

tools.pingdom.com

Provides a site performance grade, as well as page analysis, and lets you test your site from multiple locations.

Be prepared, the reports displayed can be filled with confusing technical jargon. If you are a techie, you’ll immediately know what to do to speed up your site. If such things as “minify JavaScript” or “enable gzip compression” scare you, we can help.

Solutions:

Besides the technical stuff there are a few simple things you can do yourself that will help:

fast-site#1: Shrink the file size of your images. We are big fans of tinypng.com, which gets the job done quickly and easily. If you use WordPress, the WP Smush Pro plugin is another great option.

#2: Consider a different hosting service. Not all hosts are created equal and there is a reason some are so cheap. Even the best hosting services sometimes overload their servers, or randomly relocate your site to a busy server. More on this will be covered in a future article.

#3: Animated GIFs, Flash, and some widgets can bring your website to a screeching halt. Mobile devices don’t like them at all. Considering that more than half of web browsing is now mobile, this should not be overlooked. Try to reduce these resource hogs.

We live in a high speed world. Don’t let your website become the “slow lane”, or traffic will pass you by.

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