Page Load Speed: How Does it Impact Your Business?

Posted on June 15, 2020 by Gary Barnes

Page Load Speed
There are many names for the same thing. As internet marketers, we sometimes make things too complicated. Yes, I know, stop laughing. Page load speed is defined in two parts: “page load time” (the time it takes to fully display the content on a specific page) and “time to first byte” (how long it takes for your browser to receive the first byte of information from the web server).

Best Practices for Optimizing Page Load Speed
Google has signaled page load speed is a ranking factor used by its algorithm. Research has surfaced indicating Google might be specifically measuring time to first byte to evaluate a website’s page load speed. If your website performs poorly for page load speed, it can impact everything from indexing and ranking your pages on the search engines, but also how visitors engage with your content and the effectiveness of your lead generation and e-commerce programs.

Studies ranging from internet user feedback to technical examinations of back end processes have pretty consistently highlighted how poor page load speed can turn people off, make them stay away and hurt business growth. The following are Neil Patel nuggets from a recent article:

A one second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.

If an e-commerce site is making $100,000 per day, a one second page delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year.

73% of mobile internet users say that they’ve encountered a website that was too slow to load.
51% of mobile internet users say that they’ve encountered a website that froze or received an error.
38% of mobile internet users say that they’ve encountered a website that wasn’t available.
47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.
40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.

As you can see, some hair raising data on the importance of optimizing and keeping optimized your website’s page load speed. Other user experience issues can also be impacted: pages with a longer load time tend to have higher bounce rates and lower average time on page.

Tips to improve your page load speed:

Enable compression
Use Gzip, a software application for file compression, to reduce the size of your CSS, HTML, and JavaScript files larger than 150 bytes.

Do not use gzip on image files. Instead, compress these in a program like Photoshop where you can retain control over the quality of the image.

Minify CSS, JavaScript, and HTML
By optimizing your code (including removing spaces, commas, and other unnecessary characters), you can dramatically increase your page speed. Also remove code comments, formatting, and unused code.

Reduce unnecessary page redirects
Each time a page redirects to another page, your visitor has to wait for the HTTP request to be completed. 301 redirects are necessary for good SEO so this process requires a balancing act, but each extreme (too many redirects or not enough to avoid site errors) is not recommended.

Remove render-blocking JavaScript
Browsers have to build a DOM tree by parsing HTML before they can render a page. If your browser encounters a script during this process, it has to stop and execute it before it can continue.

Google suggests avoiding and minimizing the use of blocking JavaScript.

Leverage browser caching
Browsers cache a lot of information (stylesheets, images, JavaScript files, and more) so that when a visitor comes back to your site, the browser doesn’t have to reload the entire page. Then set your “expires” header for how long you want that information to be cached. In many cases, unless your site design changes frequently, a year is a reasonable time period.

Improve server response time
Your server response time is affected by the amount of traffic you receive, the resources each page uses, the software your server uses, and the hosting solution you use. To improve your server response time, look for performance bottlenecks like slow database queries, slow routing, or a lack of adequate memory and fix them. The optimal server response time is under 200ms.

Use a content distribution network
Content distribution networks (CDNs), also called content delivery networks, are networks of servers that are used to distribute the load of delivering content. Essentially, copies of your site are stored at multiple, geographically diverse data centers so that users have faster and more reliable access to your site.

Optimize images
Be sure that your images are no larger than they need to be, that they are in the right file format (PNGs are generally better for graphics with fewer than 16 colors while JPEGs are generally better for photographs) and that they are compressed for the web.

Use CSS sprites to create a template for images that you use frequently on your site like buttons and icons. CSS sprites combine your images into one large image that loads all at once (which means fewer HTTP requests) and then display only the sections that you want to show. This means that you are saving load time by not making users wait for multiple images to load.

Tools to evaluate page load speed

You can evaluate your page speed with Google’s PageSpeed Insights. I also recommend GT Metrix and Pingdom Tools to gather recommendations and figure out how to address these issues.

Please contact us for any assistance with optimizing your company’s website performance or with questions of any of our other internet marketing services.

 

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