Google Page Speed Improvements & Benefits Of A Fast Website
Do you know how fast or slow your website is and how that impacts your online presence, and most importantly your visibility and revenue?
Google have announced a significant update to its search algorithm in June 2021, and it’s already been delayed twice so its definitely happening this time. With being a scaremonger, if your website is slow and as importantly has a poor user experience, you may be penalised as this is a mobile first, usability based update.
According to Google 53% of visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
Despite this we rarely see website page speed mentioned in any website brief to a developer. In a previous life as a lead developer and technical architect for online banking projects or major banks, we would never have got a development project approved if response times were not part of the acceptance criteria.
Even worse then the above the chances of people abandoning your site increases rapidly based on the speed and user experience:
Why Does Website Speed Matter?
Website site speed is a core component of your website’s overall performance and impact the whole user journey online. Slow sites can have a significant impact on all of the below :
- Lower search engine rankings
- Visitors abandoning your site
- Lower transaction volume
- Lower average cart value
- Increased cost of digital advertising due to poor user experience
Imagine if one of your potential customers clicked on a link to your website and saw the warning below in one of your paid marketing campaigns – do you think that’s a good impression? (and they haven’t even got to your website yet!). This happened to me recently from a sponsored post.
The average mobile page load speed in New Zealand is 15 seconds (according to the head of Google NZ, May 2021). Is yours one of them?
What Differences Can Fast Websites Make? (Actual Results)
You may find many people discussing website speed improvements without giving evidence of what different it can make. Here’s a few real results within a few weeks or writing this post :
- Moving a restaurant site from page 4 to organic #1 on page 1
(as well as very small SEO improvements)
- Decreasing mobile load times from 11.4s to 1.6s as an average between 13 websites
- Moving Google Page Speed scores from 52 to 100 on mobile
As well as improving scores you need to be able to fix and diagnose the issues behind the slow site, as well as making the numbers look good.
This is the average improvements over 13 websites :
The numbers below are from one website before and after page speed improvements and hosting changes.
Website Usability Is Important Too
This 2021 Google update is not just about site speed, it’s about website usability. To keep it simple, its about the layout of the site and ensuring images don’t jump around the screen and other geeky techy things. You may see this mentioned is “Core Web Vitals” or CLS and similar jargon.
If you want to delve deep into this you can check out the image taken from the Google Developer Blog.
If you’d like a more in depth tech explanation of Core Website Vitals you can visit the Google Web Dev Blog on core vitals.
Search Engine Watch also has a great article on the upcoming changes to Google’s page experience update.
How To Improve Your Website Speed?
Many factors can contribute to a slow website experience. We’ve listed a few of them below.
Large images slow a website down. It is not uncommon for us to do a digital review and audit and find 1.6MB images on a home page. That should only be about 100kB maximum and it doesn’t have to be 100% resolution as its online. We’ve even seen a 2MB image in a website footer that was 80% hidden due to a transparent black layer over it.
You can see an example from one of our reviews below which highlights large images on a website :
These are quick wins and easy fixes.
Following on from big images, do you have lots of them in a carousel on your home page?
In the conversion industry carousels are known as “conversion killers”. Would you rather have someone wait at the top of your website to see the next image, or scroll down and get to the content they want fast?
Load up your carousel with a few large images, and all of a sudden you have 6 images and a 15MB homepage.
When we’re involved in website design and development we often see owners wanting to have Facebook Like buttons, Instagram galleries, Tripadvisor feeds and many more. All of these means you load content from other sites which you have little control over. More sites and more connections means more time. We removed a Facebook Like button on a site a few years ago. No-one ever clicked on it and it saved 1.5 seconds load time.
Designers and Developers With Conflicting Opinions
Designers will always try to get the best quality of images, but in reality online they don’t need to be 100% quality and large Are your developers really focused on site speed? We had one site in the past where developers were pulling in images from a booking engine. The images were huge. We never even saw the code but we asked if they could pull through thumbnails and they could. They just went for ease and didn’t think about it.
We often overlook new site developments for customers to ensure they don’t hit these issues.
Poor hosting can make a huge impact on your site speed. Bad hosts have overloaded servers. This is where if you buy cheap, or you don’t optimise your setup it can cost you big in the long term with poor search results, bad user experience and higher cost of advertising.
Lower Your Total Cost Of Ownership
When speaking to customers about websites and digital marketing we often mention the total cost of ownership as its a factor that’s often overlooked.
Imagine the restaurant above who was on page 4 for a year instead of page 1. It’s hard to put a cost of that poor search result.
We once took over a paid advertising campaign where they were questioning the benefits of working with a good Google Ads agency. We lowered their cost per click from 2 UK Pound to 1 UK Pound. Their money was going twice as far. In that case it was largely due to how we structured the campaign, but similar impacts are likely to happen if you run Google Ads to a slow site. The only thing that makes this hard is you’ll never know the cost impact, but site speed and user experience is definitely part of the ‘Quality Score’ of your Google Ad campaigns.
How Slow Is Your Website?
If you want to check how your website performs today, you can check this using Google Page Speed Insights.
If you see good results, also click on both the desktop and mobile results as mobile results are usually significantly different, and for most websites, that’s where most of your users are coming from.
Want To Speed Up Your WordPress Website?
As you can see your website speed and Google Page Experience score has a huge impact on how your business operates online and its visibility.
If you don’t have the ability to improve it yourself, you may want to speak to us about a digital marketing review which will cover your website speed as well as many other elements. If you want to speak to us about improving your website speed and you are running your website on WordPress, you can read more about our fast managed wordpress website hosting.
Speed up your website today. Grow your business tomorrow.