Is A Slow Website Costing You Money?
Everyone understands the importance of being online today. But the truth is that having a site for your business isn’t enough. According to research, there are some alarming facts about speed that you have to understand when it comes to creating a business channel online. For example, almost half of all your visitors will expect your landing pages to load in under two seconds, and you’ll make a poor impression if it takes any longer. Furthermore, 40 percent of your visitors will just leave and go elsewhere if they have to wait for any longer than three seconds. Breaking down even further, 14 percent of your visitors will shop elsewhere if they get irritated at your slow loading speeds, and more than half of online customers will not remain loyal if your site takes an age to load.
Clearly, it’s a big issue, and one that will leave you missing out on a whole bunch of profit, as well as increasing your bottom line. With this in mind, let’s take a look at all the different ways a slow website can damage you, from sales to increased costs:
The Modern Consumer
In the early days of the web, waiting a couple of minutes for a dial-up connection to load incredibly basic websites was par for the course. But things move on, and unless you are moving on too, your online business is going to suffer. As web designers digitalico.com point out, the typical web user is incredibly impatient these days. Your website only has a matter of seconds to attract their attention, or they will just go elsewhere, most likely to one of your key competitors.
You have to bear in mind that the vast majority of people don’t have time to wait around. Even if your customers are so wealthy that they don’t have to work, or they don’t lead busy lives in the usual sense, consider the impact of the modern day web. There are distractions at every turn, and you have to cut through all this noise, not just with smart messaging, great design, and high quality products, but also with super fast service. If your website is slow, it just won’t cut it with the modern consumer. And it’s a problem that is only going to get worse. There might be a few people who tolerate slow website speeds because they remember the late 90s or early 2000s. But make no mistake about it, those days will soon be a very distant memory, and your business will suffer the longer you leave the changes. If you want to increase online sales, site speed has to be a concern.
Google and Other Search Engines
As a business owner operating in the online space, you should also have an awareness of search engine optimization – or SEO. It’s a vital weapon in your armory to ensure that your website is visible when people using Google search for the products or services you sell. Using proper SEO techniques will help your site rise up through the search engine rankings, and the ultimate goal for any online business is to achieve that coveted number one position.
But, here’s the thing. Given the modern consumer’s increasingly high standards when it comes to speed, Google has to respond in kind to provide people with the service they want. And that means that no matter how brilliant your website is, if it isn’t fast enough for Google’s liking, your rankings will take a hit. At this current moment in time, speed is only a slight ranking factor, and there are only a small percentage of sites that will see a significant change in ranking or traffic if they focus on improving their loading times. However, as pointed out over at forbes.com, it is highly likely that over time, the likes of Google, Bing, and the rest will place more importance on website speed, as consumers grow more accustomed to incredibly fast Internet services.
Check your analytics and look at your bounce rate stats, and the stats for time spent on your site. If both are low, you have a serious problem. All those people arriving at your site are going elsewhere almost straight away. If you were a brick and mortar retail outlet, you wouldn’t grab your next customer that comes to the cash register and take them directly to one of your competitors across the hall, would you? Well, with a slow and lumbering website, that is effectively what you’re doing. And it’s costing you money, big time.
While we’re on the subject of stats and analytics, a slow website is also killing your ability to research your customers. If visitors stick around, you can use a lot of their data to form a picture of your typical customer, find out what’s working for your business, and what isn’t. And also add customers to your marketing database. But with a slow website, none of this information will be of any value. You won’t be able to see whether your price points are perfect, or the flow of your site is working because no one is actually waiting for your pages to load. It’s a little bit like flying blind, and you are missing out on a huge array of data that could be beneficial for your business.
And let’s be honest, if you don’t have any online customers, what’s the point in having an online business? You are paying for web hosting, design, content provision and a lot more besides. All of those costs are being added to your bottom line and increasing your cost per sale. Your website will become a drain, rather than a benefit.
Making The Change
OK, so the problems of having a slow website are clear: It’s costing you money and not allowing your business to perform as well as it could. The big question is – what can you do to fix it? The good news is there are plenty of small changes you can make that can result in a huge difference. Given that every time Amazon increases their site speed by 100 milliseconds they see a 1 percent increase in online revenue, you can see how much of a difference it can actually be.
First, you need a baseline to work with, so check the speed of every page on your site with one of the many speed tests you can find online. Pingdom, GTMetrix, and WebPagetest.org are all good examples of speed tests that will tell you a lot about where you are going wrong. You should also make sure you use Google’s PageSpeed Insights service. Not only will these services show you how fast, or slow, your pages are loading, they will also reveal how you can improve to make them faster. Even someone with no coding experience can make these incremental changes. Just do them one by one, and keep running speed tests until you see improvements.
There are other items you can do to speed up your site of course. Once you have ticked off all your speed test suggestions, you might think about using a content delivery network or CDN. These CDNs are effectively media storage services, and they can be a highly useful tool for speeding up your site. When you use them, CDNs host your files across a vast number of servers all around the world. So, when someone from another country visits your site, the files they see are actually downloaded from a server that is closest to them, making your website load faster than it would if they were transferring files from halfway across the globe.
You also might want to consider changing your web host. If you are serious about your online business, you should never use cheap or free web hosts, as they can have a more negative impact on your site speed than you might think. Honestly, it’s worth it in the long term. High quality hosts might cost additional money, but you will find that your site is more stable, fast, and user friendly than anything you will get from a cheap and nasty server.
As you can see, many different issues arise through slow loading pages on your website. And really, there is no excuse in this day and age, given how easy it can be to make straightforward and effective changes. A slow website could ultimately result in a slow business.