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Why does the page speed of your website even matter?

Posted by: Robert Marshall on 14 December 2017

First, it was responsive design. Articles popped up all over the internet, slowly trying to explain to those less tech-savvy, the benefits of having a website that worked on all devices. To start with, nobody paid this new fad any attention. ‘Responsive Design’ was just another piece of jargon agencies used to make money. At least until consumers started using their competitor’s websites.

Now the new ‘fad’ is page speed. Except, it isn’t a fad at all. It can make a real difference between a conversion, or the user leaving your site and never returning.

In 2010, Google announced that they were taking page speed into account for ranking searches. They stated:

“Faster sites create happy users and we’ve seen in our internal studies that when a site responds slowly, visitors spend less time there.”

That was almost 8 years ago, and yet page speed is still not yet at the forefront of the conversation (that’s not to say it’s not getting there, it just needs a push).

But what is page speed? Why do I care?

Page speed is the amount of time your website takes to load. This depends on so many variables, from how the website was designed and developed, to how the hosting server is set up. There are factors that are not able to be controlled, such as the user’s connection, but this cannot be helped.

As I mentioned earlier, Google found that users prefer a fast website. This seems like common sense. What I didn’t say, was that 53% of users will abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.

That is a hell of a lot of potential conversions lost.

On a more positive note, if your page loads quickly, Google found that:

  • There was a 65% increase in pageviews
  • Visitors stay for 70% longer on pages that loaded in 5 seconds, as opposed to 19 seconds
  • Bounce rates decreased by 35%

Google has now updated their view on page speed and now plan to include it when indexing mobile sites, once their Mobile First Index is rolled out.

Ok, so I am probably going to be affected, what can I do?

This is the easy bit. Google has clearly explained how to optimize a website, as well as providing a PageSpeed Insight Tool.

  • Eliminate render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content
  • Compress and optimise image
  • Leverage browser caching
  • Remove landing page redirects
  • Prioritise above-the-fold content

When Mobile First is closer to launching, Google says they will communicate with the specifics on the Mobile First Index. Either way, site owners need to be considering how fast their site is, both on and off mobile. As markets become more competitive, the smallest thing can make the difference between a conversion or no conversion. Agencies must keep consumers engaged and focus on building ‘Mobile First experiences’.

Here at Fox we are tackling this head-on. Every site we work on moving forward will be built to these standards with specific targets in mind. The time is now for focus more on the mobile user experience, and page loading speed is central to this belief.

Fox Agency has a dedicated web development team, happy to design new websites from scratch, part of our Integrated B2B Marketing Campaigns.

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