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(Lack of) Speed Kills: Why You Need to Pay Attention to Page Speed Tests

Written on May 29th, 2014 by

Stopwatch

As online marketers, there are so many things we have to worry about when it comes to our websites and campaigns.

There’s content, design, hosting, back links, comments, social media, paid traffic and so much more. Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but it’s time to add another to the list: page speed.

Running page speed tests on your website and addressing any issues found should be on every online marketer’s “to-do” list. 

The Importance of Page Speed

Before we dive into any of the fancy SEO and internet marketing stuff, the importance of page speed should be obvious.

A site that takes too long to load and respond to the visitor’s requests is going to create a bad user experience and send your traffic into the arms of your competitors. People aren’t patient. They expect what they want, when they want it (now). Any deviation from expected load times is going to create frustration and drive abandonment.

And this all affects your bottom line. If people are leaving your site quicker than the rich people off the Titanic, they aren’t going to help you achieve your monetization goals. Bad page speed will lead to higher bounce rates, fewer conversions and less money in your pocket.

There are also SEO implications to slow loading sites. Google measures your site’s load time and considers it when deciding your rankings, amongst many other factors.

Bad page speed and bounce rates will lead to lower rankings because Google and the other search engines want to provide the best possible results to searchers. That isn’t going to happen if their results pages are littered with slow-poke sites that frustrate users.   

Study: Half of Sites Too Slow

Recently, the online marketing agency Portent conducted a page speed test study and uncovered some pretty disturbing findings.

After looking at more than 500 e-commerce sites they found that 50 percent of them had load times greater than 5 seconds. So, despite the fact that everyone has been talking about improving website page speed for a couple of years now, half of sites aren’t getting the job done.

When they looked at the effects on revenue, they found that the average value of page views drops off dramatically after 1 second: from almost $30 to around $10. If that kind of page speed just isn’t the cards for you, there is still good news.

The “low-hanging fruit” in the page speed world is improving from 8 seconds to 5 seconds.  That change will generate an 18 percent increase in value per page view and is relatively easy to achieve.

How to Test Site Speed

So, the chances are good your site may have a speed issue that you need to address. But in order to do this, you need to actually run some speed tests and see where your site clocks in.

There are plenty of tools you can use to time your site, but here are our favorites:

Simply plug in your web address and these tools will give you a breakdown of your page speed and identify potential errors you can address.

Common Site Speed Fixes

While your page speed tests will give you specifics, there are a couple of common issues that usually hamper the response times of pages.

Keep these in mind when you’re building your site or looking to improve performance:

  • Slim Down Code: Bloated or outdated coding will often slow a site down. Unless you’re handy with code, this is something you’ll need to have someone else address. The easiest solution is to find another theme or CMS that isn’t as bloated.
  • Delete Unused Themes and Plugins: If you’re using WordPress or other another CMS that uses themes and plugins, make sure you’re not keeping unused stuff around necessarily. Delete themes and plugins you don’t use. Go through the rest and see whether you really need them. Likewise, look for different plugins that might combine the functionality of several existing ones to conserve space.  
  • Minify: When possible, minify your CSS, Javascript and other code. This is best achieved using a plugin like this one.
  • Use a CDN: Content Delivery Networks store large files and other parts of websites in servers around the world to serve content faster and more efficiently.  Two of the most popular are Cloudfare and Max CDN.
  • Compress Images: Large images are the page speed optimizer’s nemesis!  Slay this demon by compressing images into web-friendly formats like .PNG and use smaller images in general. Also, don’t allow your CMS to resize images for you. Upload the right size to begin with so that step can be skipped.

Get Clockin'

How’s your web page speed looking? Where can you trim the fat and improve website performance? It’s time to find out and increase your rankings, conversions and retention along the way!