Imagine the situation.
You fire up your favorite web browser on your mobile because you need to quickly check something or you want to make a purchase. But the page does not load, or it is slow. You are getting frustrated… and things get even worse when the page does not render properly on your mobile. You give up because you will either do it later granted that it is important enough or you will simply go to the competitor who has a much faster and user-friendly website.
Despite the latest advances in technologies, a lot of websites remain slow. If you care about your online growth, you have to take steps to speed it up if you want to overtake your competitors.
Let’s get started with some definitions. What are we referring to when we mention website speed?
Time To Interactive and Speed index are the two main components to be aware of.
Speed Index & Time To Interactive (TTI)
The Speed Index is the time required to fully load your website. It is expressed in milliseconds. The lower, the better. It gives a general overview of website speed performance and this value can be used to provide a comparison point with competitors and provide metrics to measure optimization efforts.
Time To Interactive is the time it takes for the user to be able to interact with your website or app. For example, scrolling, clicking a button, or filling up a form.
Both of these parameters are important considerations. Business websites that provide a great user experience ensure that visitors will stay on your website, thereby potentially increasing your conversion rate.
Currently, the Google algorithm is pushing for an increase in the speed of websites and apps. Meaning, if you want to rank high on Google, you need to have a lightning-fast website. This leads us to our next point.
Why Speed Matters?
Nobody likes waiting for a slow website to load. Studies show that 50% of visitors will leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load on their mobile. For a user, it refers to the Time To Interactive (TTI). Fast loading speed correlates favorably with fast TTI. The common consensus is that a website is considered slow when it takes more than 2 seconds to load.
A slow website can result in billions of dollars in loss as visitors will leave a page if a website takes too long to load.
Google Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) prioritizes the user experience and there has been a strong push recently for fast and mobile-friendly websites and apps. It is even recommended to opt for a mobile-first approach when building a website, which means that its content must be displayed properly on the device’s screen.
The faster your website or app, the better you will be ranked on Google. If your website is slow, you will be penalized. Speed as an SEO metric is not new and was established in 2010 but there is a definitive strong push for faster loading websites, especially as we rely more and more on mobiles for online activities (eg. Google searches, shopping, social media, etc).
In fact, a slow website can create a cascading effect because not only it is slow but when a visitor leaves the page, it increase its bounce rate, sending to Google a negative signal on the quality of your website.
The reason for so much emphasis on speed is because mobiles are more and more used to surf the web or perform actions such as making purchases or playing. As mobiles are low-powered devices compared to Desktop computers or laptops, it is important to optimize the speed of the website or app as much as possible.
Also, a fast website with accurate metadata will make it easy for Google bots to crawl, hence again, ranked more favorably on Google.
Slow Leads To Lost Opportunities; Fast Leads To Growth.
By now, you should be able to appreciate why the speed of your website is important. To put things in perspective, if your website takes more than 3 seconds to load and 50% of your visitors leave, it also means that you will need to generate 100% more traffic to be able to compensate. If your conversion rate is 5% on average, 5% based on 10 000 visitors will not have the same impact as 5000 visitors in terms of sales. More sales compound themselves to eventually lead to even more sales. Increasing your audience outreach gives more people the chance to benefit from your services and products.
Let’s take the example of an E-Commerce website. The website is slow to load, our potential customer gets frustrated, gives up, leaves the page, maybe to buy from a competitor instead. Slow loading speeds create a huge barrier to closing potential sales and can give the impression of unreliability to the customer who has never met you face to face. To make things worse, almost half of them will tell their friends and/or family about their bad experience using your website, so you can lose even more potential clients. This is not good for your business, neither is it for your bounce rate. A higher bounce rate will penalize your sales.
Wait! What is the bounce rate?
Faster Websites Increase The Chances Of Customers Hitting The BUY Button
The bounce rate is a metric measuring the number of visitors entering your website and leaving without taking any action on the page they entered. It can be due to poor quality of content or due to visitors not interested in the content of your website. It can also be because visitors got the information they were looking for and decided to leave.
In most cases, good websites seek to lower their bounce rate, meaning you want your visitors to read your content or keep browsing the products you sell and click the “buy” button. It shows Google that your website has quality content and is not thin. As Google wants to favor the user experience, priority will be given to websites with a lower bounce rate as it signals to Google that the website is of quality.
You also want to provide a pleasant user experience to them so they want to return and buy again from you. Although bounce rate in itself is not a Google ranking factor, one can conclude that a high bounce rate could be due to slow website speed, which could be hurting your customer’s user experience and your sales.
Solve Speed Issues With The Jamstack.
A Jamstack, compared to a more classic website powered by Wordpress offers more flexibility and requires less maintenance. Because the website is delivered statically, it results in an important increase in speed. GatsbyJS, for example, is a Jamstack framework that comes with a ton of features to optimize the speed of a website out of the box. There’s also a lot of SEO optimizations that are easy to implement.
In fact, a Jamstack, because it comes with a lot of SEO and speed optimization is a great choice as a platform for content marketing. Because of its serverless nature, the deployment is very easy and fast when using platforms like Netlify or Vercel. You just need to push your code over GitHub and deploy your website lightning fast within minutes.
There is much more to say about Jamstack in general, not only about speed but also in terms of features, the way it can be used with API, their scalability or how they can be used to deploy PWA (Progressive Web App) but it is beyond the scope of this article.
So, for your next project, feel free to explore the options given by GatsbyJS or NextJS to speed things up.