How to Optimize Your Website Load Speed for Better Conversion Rates
Surprisingly, even with today’s providers’ internet speed of over 100 Mbit/sec and cell phone operators’ 5G implementation, website load speed is still an issue for some businesses. The parameter is vital, affecting conversion, bounce, and website traffic, as well as other business KPIs. Moreover, having to choose between two similar websites, most users would prefer the fastest to load and to not make users wait. There are a lot of website speed studies on the internet, proving the aforementioned statement, and here’s a good infographic example of them.
The main conclusion of similar studies is that 1.5 to 3 seconds represent the optimal website loading time. If longer, more than a half of users are sure to leave the website to find another one.
Let’s take a closer look at the main issues about slow websites, no matter if on desktop or mobile:
- Customers prefer leaving for competitors’ websites and ordering there instead of waiting.
- A delay of 0.1 seconds reduces the conversion rate by 7%, according to Akamai’s research.
- The probability that customers get back to the website drops down. Google says, that negative user experience reduces a chance of repeated purchase by 60% for mobile devices.
- Search ranking is also greatly influenced by the website load speed, as slow sites are more difficult to index.
As you can see, the website speed is absolutely important to any business. Now, let’s see how to check the speed rates.
How to check website load speed
There’s plenty of fish in the ocean if you need to know how fast your website is, and all you’ve got to do is enter your website URL address. We suggest giving a closer look at the 3 most interesting solutions, as we think. We’ll use https://shop.googlemerchandisestore.com as the URL address for demonstration.
This is a free tool by Google, allowing you to learn how fast your website pages load on desktop and mobile devices. The tool uses key metrics based on user experience around the world from Chrome User Experience Report and then compares it to yours. As a result, you see the average loading speed and optimization level for your website, as well as the percentage of slow, average and fast level.
If the results don’t turn out the best ones, you’ll get an advice on how to optimize your website. Another cool thing about the service is that you can view the PageSpeed Insights recommendations in the "Site Speed" reports of Google Analytics. To do that, simply click on the link next to the website page in GA report interface.
Site Speed reports in GA are quite handy, and we highly recommend to pay more attention to them. This will allow you to timely react to any issues or changes on your website. For instance, you can figure out how fast your website loads in different countries, on different devices and browsers, as well as how quick are the website responses to user actions.
Say, your target audience is in Germany, and one of your website pages takes 19.24 seconds to load while there are quite a lot of pageviews. To increase loading speed, this page needs optimization like, for example, creating a light page version if the average internet speed is quite low in the target region.
Here’s one of the most convenient and popular website speed tests. It has both, free and paid desktop versions, as well as a mobile app with a 14-day free trial.
The free version will let you quickly analyze your website performance, page size, and possible issues slowing it down. You can view details for each of the problems by clicking on the point you need.
Below are the other functions of the free version:
- Tracking performance history for a website after any changes, and finding 404 and 500 errors.
- Viewing the website size based on content, domain, and browser queries.
- Testing website loading for different locations.
- Sharing analysis results with colleagues.
The service has similar functions to Pingdom Tools, providing information in a more organized way. If you use the free version, you’ll find out the server used for testing, browser name, page speed, loading time, query number, and the total page size. GTmetrix provides test history, so the aforementioned metrics will be enough for analysis, allowing you to take account of all the website changes.
If you need more info on why your website is slow and how to deal with it, choose the paid service version. You’ll be able to choose server location and browser, to automate testing, and much more. Afterwards, you’ll get to estimate how much profit your business will receive by increasing the loading speed. For example, you can use a Google calculator or a solution from Sharpe Digital.
How to increase website page speed
Actually, there are 5 major issues that slow down your website. We’ll tell you more about what they are and how to tackle them.
1. Large web pages
You could use the GZIP compression method, to decrease the size of your web files by 70%, without quality losses. GiftOfSpeed and GTmetrix will help you find out if you can use the method for your website.
2. Huge image files
Images of big size and resolution can seriously drop down your website speed. That’s why it’s better to use JPEG files that are 5 times smaller than PNG, having the same quality level. Any of the online optimization services will do the job for that: Optimizilla, Compressor, Imagify, TinyPNG, etc. One more option is to Photoshop the picture, saving it as in a special web format. The only thing to remember is to find the perfect balance between the quality and size.
3. Too many requests from a browser
The more elements are on a page, the more requests browser sends to a server, and the slower is the website loading. Here’s what you can do to get rid of this problem:
- Delete extra images, JS files, and third-party service codes.
- Combine multiple minor elements like icons and buttons, into a single CSS sprite. CSS Sprites generator, CssSpritegen, Spritebox and other similar solutions can help you with that.
- Use caching. Every time a user comes to a website, the browser uploads all web files from a server. If caching is on, the browser saves data on a user’s PC to use it again when the user gets back to the website. You can even choose a cache plugin to boost up your website with the account of your CMS. For example, for WordPress you could use WP Super Cache, W3 Total Cache, Hyper Cache.
- Put CSS files to the page <header>, making it load component by component.
- Place JS files at the end of the page. This will make the browser load page content first, and then start scripts.
5. The long distance between a server and a user
The further from the computer the server of your hosting provider is, the slower the site loads. However, there are special content delivery networks (CDN) to "shorten" the aforementioned distance: Amazon CloudFront, Incapsula, Akamai, and others. When a user comes to the website, a CDN service loads web files from the closest of its servers. You can see how it works below:
6. Slow hosting
If none of the previous worked for you, and the website speed is still below your expectations, check the server response time. To do that, you can use the «Overview» of the Site Speed report in GA:
The screenshot demonstrates that the average response time is 0.93 seconds, while the maximum value should be 0.2 seconds. Longer response time should be a sign to change your hosting provider.
How to monitor website speed on a regular basis
As you can see, website load speed can be a serious issue not only for a developer and a marketer, but for the whole business. Companies, paying too little or no attention at all to this matter, lose a lot of potential leads and customers. To avoid that, you should regularly monitor website speed and optimize your web pages.
If you collect data in Google BigQuery via OWOX BI Pipeline and want to track the main website KPIs, kindly fill out this form, and we will provide you with a dashboard template with a guide on how to use it.
This will allow you to obtain a report consisting of 5 pages. The first page will show you these indicators:
- Number of users.
- Number of sessions.
- Number of pageviews.
- Errors 404.
- Average page load time.
- Average time of connection with server.
- Total number errors within a set period.
- Errors per page.
- Sessions with errors.
- Percentage of users who had problems.
- Pages with errors and page types with errors (to track page types, you’ll need to implement the pageType parameter on the website and create a user hit-level variable hits.page.pageType).
The third page demonstrates info about errors 404:
- Total number of errors.
- Errors per page.
- Sessions with errors.
- Number of users who experienced errors.
- Referrals that caused errors.
The two final pages show the changes of load speed for pages across types, browsers, and devices. Info about desktop is given on the fourth page:
The fifth page shows data on tablets and mobile devices:
We truly hope that all this information will help you make your website get fast as the Flash ;) If you have any questions or know other ways to optimize website load speed, kindly write about them in the comment section.