How much difference does a second make?
Well, when it comes to your website, it makes a huge difference. It’s often the difference between a customer buying something or abandoning your site.
A fast website means better user experience, improved trust, and higher sales. Website speed is a secret marketing weapon that boosts conversions and long-term profitability.
I’ve been monitoring website and server speed for years, and I’ve noticed some key differences between fast and slow websites. Here are just some of the ways a slow website could be holding you back.
1. First impressions count
Think about what happens when you click on a website. If it takes more than a few seconds, you start to become suspicious.
We’ve become so used to fast loading speeds, we don’t tend to tolerate slow loading sites! We’ve come a long way since the ‘90s when you would happily wait for a minute to load a large picture.
Statistics show that most of us expect a website to flash up in less than 2 seconds.
If your website takes longer than that, it’s immediately creating a poor first impression. Your visitor is already restless and perhaps a little agitated. They may even have trouble trusting your site, which is bad news if you’re hoping to sell something. First impressions count for a lot online.
We equate speed to professionalism. So, if your website is super speedy, we are more likely to trust it.
2. Speed = lower bounce rate and higher page views
A good marketer is always monitoring their statistics and metrics. Two of the most useful metrics are bounce rate and page views.
A low bounce rate means visitors are sticking around for longer and exploring your website. And higher page views generally means customers and leads are happily browsing. We recently explored how business owners can generate more leads online, and boosting these two metrics is a key extension of that.
Figures show that website speed has a direct effect on both of these figures. For example, 40% of website visitors will leave – or ‘bounce’ if a website doesn’t load within three seconds.
One study showed that a slow website resulted in 11% fewer page views.
Website speed has a clear, direct effect on your fundamental metrics. As you’ll see later on, this has a knock-on effect on sales and conversions.
3. Everyone’s in a hurry
Everyone’s in a hurry on the internet. Apparently, 40% of people ask Google a question without even trying to remember the answer themselves.
In other words, they expect Google to give them the answer faster than their own brain! Internet users expect speed.
Most people online are looking for answers, and it’s your job to give it to them quickly. And when you give them the answer they’re looking for, they get a warm fuzzy glow. That’s a positive user experience!
Speed + answers = great UX.
4. Higher sales and conversions
A faster website means more sales and more conversions. If that sounds simplistic, let’s break it down.
Remember I said that 40% of website visitors abandon a site if it takes more than three seconds to load? That’s a huge 40% of potential customers vanished into thin air. And three seconds isn’t very long.
Strangeloop has calculated that this loss in visitors (coupled with the loss of trust) could result in a 7% loss in conversions. Amazon famously claimed it would lose $1 billion every year if their website slowed down by a second.
There’s a clear link between website speed and conversions. Speed gives customers the confidence to buy and creates a seamless user experience. In turn, that will lead to better conversions.
5. Speed keeps your customers loyal
Another crucial statistic about website speed is this:
Almost 80% of online shoppers won’t return to a slow website.
If we have a poor experience online, we tend to blacklist the website in our mind. That’s bad news if you want to grow long-term, returning customers.
Most marketers agree that it’s easier, cheaper, and often preferable to sell to your existing customers rather than constantly chasing new visitors. Regular, returning business is one of the strongest ways to grow your company.
Unfortunately, if 80% of shoppers aren’t coming back to your website, it’s tricky to build that customer retention.
Hunting out new customers for every single sale is exhausting and expensive. Improving your website speed will help you keep those regular customers loyal and boost return sales. Not only that but they are much more likely to recommend your website to a friend and spread the word.
6. Speed can influence your search ranking
Search engine optimization (or, SEO) is a core part of your marketing strategy. Getting your website to the first page of Google results is no easy feat, and there are tons of factors that Google take into account.
One of them is website speed.
Experts tend to disagree over how much weight Google gives to speed, but everyone agrees that it does matter. In fact, here’s what Google has to say about website speed:
“You may have heard that here at Google we’re obsessed with speed. As part of that effort, today we’re including a new signal in our search ranking algorithms: site speed.”
It’s clear that Google does take it into consideration. However, they’ve also said it should only ‘directly’ affect about 1% of sites. Essentially, Google is penalizing uber-slow websites rather than giving precedence to faster sites.
Having said that, site speed also affects your SEO indirectly. That’s because Google puts a huge emphasis on user experience.
And – as we’ve explained – user experience is heavily affected by site speed.
Fast websites lead to a longer time-on-site, higher page-views, and lower bounce rates. These are all things that Google monitors carefully and uses to rank websites higher.
It’s clear, therefore, that your website speed affects your search engine rank in a number of direct and indirect ways.
A fast website isn’t just a nice bonus. It’s a core part of your marketing strategy.
It increases user experience, search engine presence, and customer retention. Ultimately, it directly affects your sales and conversions.