When it comes to tactics for increasing online sales, we tend to focus on paid ads and discounts, but the reality is that the speed of your website can also have a huge impact on your rate of sales.
As mobile internet traffic continues to increase, the likes of Google have redirected their focus to mobile-friendly website optimization. Google aims to put this into action the earliest February 2021, with 6 months' notice before the rollout.
Core web vitals and the part they play
Following Google’s announcement in early summer that it would be introducing a new ranking signal called the “Page Experience Signal”, we can see that the importance placed on load speed is going to increase when this takes effect in early 2021. This change will see Core Web Vitals added to the existing user experience signals in place, which help to evaluate the overall user experience on a page.
The three Core Web Vitals to be evaluated are responsiveness, visual stability, and loading speeds, which will be measured alongside mobile-friendliness, safe browsing, HTTPS, and intrusive interstitials.
Google has chosen to introduce this Core Web Vitals updated as a way of ensuring that site owners are focusing on building websites that people want to visit, with a good user experience, which ultimately is going to be the key to conversion rates on-site.
Why should you focus on site load speed?
Aside from it becoming a key ranking factor from early next year, one of the biggest reasons for prioritising load speed with any website build or migration is that with slow loading speeds come high bounce rates.
According to Google, as load time exceeds five seconds, the bounce rate probability rapidly increases:
- 1 to 3 seconds – bounce rate probability increases 32%
- 1 to 5 seconds – bounce rate probability increases 90%
- 1 to 6 seconds – bounce rate probability increases 106%
- 1 to 10 seconds – bounce rate probability increases 123%
Aside from bounce rates, page speed also matters when it comes to satisfying your customers. Adding just a few extra seconds to your loading time can negatively affect your ability to engage visitors and gain conversions.
According to Google, the optimal page loading speed is three seconds. However, most sites are nowhere near this optimal time.
During an analysis of 900,000 mobile ad landing pages across 126 countries, Google found that 70% of the pages took around seven seconds for the content to be displayed.
Of all the industries, none had an average close to the optimal loading speed of three seconds:
- Automotive – 9.5 seconds
- Business & Industrial Markets – 8.7 seconds
- Classifieds & Local – 8.7 seconds
- Finance – 8.7 seconds
- Media & Entertainment – 9 seconds
- Retail – 9.8 seconds
- Technology – 11.3 seconds
- Travel – 8.7 seconds
According to Cloudflare, load speeds have the following impact on conversion rates:
- 2.4 seconds = 1.9% conversion rate
- 3.3seconds = 1.5% conversion rate
- 4.2seconds = <1% conversion rate
- 5.7 seconds = <0.6% conversion rate
The fact is, consumers don’t have the time to be waiting around for pages to load when the whole point of online shopping is to be able to purchase items quickly and on the go. Our lead Front-End Developer Steve discusses more ways that you can improve your sites conversion rate, giving some practical tactics to improve your website’s performance.
Our top 5 tips for increasing the speed of your site
- Reduce the size of images
Any images that are used on your website should be optimised for the web. In other words, they should be set to an optimal size to ensure your site’s loading speed doesn’t get negatively affected. Smaller images will occupy less space on your server, reducing the data transferred when visitors browse your site.
- Enable browser caching
In your content management systems (CMS), you can use plugins that will cache the latest version of your pages. The visitors browser cache will save information and data, that is necessary to view your website.
These specific areas of your website are saved to help bandwidth, ensuring the next time someone visits your site, it will take less time to download the pages. Once the data is stored, visitors to your site will have a better experience, as they will be able to move through your site at a greater speed.
- Reducing HTTP request
A site’s download time is spent loading elements such as images, stylesheets and scripts. For each one of these elements a HTTP request is made, so the more page elements, the longer it will take for your page to load.
- Auditing your code base with a developer
As websites are maintained and added to over the years they can become bloated with code that is no longer needed, this is especially true if your website uses a lot of plugins or 3rd party code.
Alongside a developer, audit your codebase and see if there are any areas where you can minify your code (removing whitespace in the files) and concatenate your code into one file.
Over the last few years, you’ll no doubt have experienced the impact that your site’s loading speed has on your conversion rate. For every second added onto your load time, your customers’ patience reduces, leading to a lack of confidence in your business.
It’s important to remember that reducing your load time by just one second can lead to much better results and therefore these adjustments shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Always remember that Google algorithms are constantly changing, and therefore you will need to keep up to date to achieve the best results.
If you would like to discuss improving your website’s load speeds and ultimately conversion rates, we offer a website performance consulting package, which allows you to review the required fixes, without treading on the toes of your incumbent agency or in-house teams.
To get a more in-depth understanding of Web Vitals and the implications of upcoming changes, read our article Core Web Vitals Updates - Need to know here