When it comes to websites, “slow and steady wins the race” is the absolute worst motto to abide by.
Now, keep in mind that there is a slight difference between “site speed” and “page speed.” The former speaks to the page speed of a sample of pages, while the latter speaks to the load time of one particular page. No matter how you slice it, the faster the page speed, the better. Especially since the world is now in a time where the vast majority of the population wants everything to be instantaneous – including the information they are searching for online.
That kind of right-here, right-now mindset can only mean one thing for businesses that rely on their website to play a key role in acquiring leads or customers: your site has a very finite amount of time to appeal to your target audience, and when that time comes, it better be ready to perform.
That said, here are the top three reasons that exemplify why exceptional page speed is vital for the success of your organization.
1) From an SEO/rankings perspective, Google likes faster sites.
This matters because Google is virtually the reason why the concepts of SEO and SERPs rankings exist. Way back in 2010, Google announced that page speed performance would be a ranking factor to coincide with the user experience factor of SEO, and although it is not the be-all-end-all of ranking factors, it’s still best to follow Google’s guidelines.
Now, what does it mean to have a site that “performs?”
Ideally, that means a site that is completely rendered and ready to go on a screen within microseconds of someone typing in its URL and hitting enter. Is that happening anytime soon? Don’t count on it. Since a feat such as that is borderline impossible in most cases, we’re forced to resort to more realistic metrics.
According to an experiment done by Moz, Google has indicated it may actually be measuring time to first byte (TTFB) — essentially, how long it takes the first byte of information to get from a server to a browser. It has also been theorized that, from a mobile perspective, Google expects a mobile page to render above the fold in one second or less (this doesn’t include AMP). Both are great benchmarks to work towards – especially on mobile.
Since more than half of the 3.4 billion daily Google searches are done on mobile devices, it’s imperative to have a fast and mobile-friendly site. However, determining the objective is the easy part. Now the right changes need to be made to the site in order to make all those page speed dreams a reality.
There are a bunch of tools out there that will help to pinpoint where improvements could be made on the back end of a site, but at Altitude, we like to get insight straight from the horse’s mouth. Put any URL into Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool and it provides recommended fixes, as well as a speed score for it on mobile and desktop, respectively.
2) Better page speed = more conversions (potentially).
I say “potentially” because even if a site has record-breaking load time, if the site’s offer or call to action isn’t up to snuff, then that factor alone will completely overshadow any site’s blazing speed … and there won’t be much of a difference in the number of conversions.
Nonetheless, the speed factor does have a direct correlation to the number of potential conversions you get because – think about it – if a top-of-funnel prospect is scoping out a company and wants to download an asset, like a white paper, but that prospect can’t get to it because the landing page either won’t or slowly loads … the prospect is lost.
Remember what I said about having a very finite amount of time to appeal to an audience? Case in point right there. Although there’s the possibility that the prospect was just sitting around at home or the office and did actually wait for the page to load, that won’t be true for most cases. So it’s best to play it safe.
3) Visitors to your site need a great experience.
This is without a doubt the most important reason. Sites should be optimized for its visitors. By having a fast site that positively affects user experience, more doors are opened in the long run:
- Quicker load time means users will be able to navigate a site easier, subsequently increasing pages per session, time on page, and (possibly) decreased bounce rate.
- Better numbers for these metrics means better rankings from Google.
- Better opportunity for conversions.
- More likely to have visitors return to the site more than once – and maybe refer the site to friends or co-workers.
In the grand scheme of things, the user experience factor could easily be the differentiator between your site and a site of a competitor.
Sites need to be the perfect combination of a sprinter and a long-distance sprint runner. Every second counts. Work on what needs to be worked on, but keep your eye on the finish line. Because if you’re not going to go fast, then you might as well go home.