Page load time refers to the time needed for the elements on your page to load, letting users view the whole content of a page in their browser. It’s calculated from the beginning, when a user clicks the link or enters the web address, to when the page has completely loaded.
Now that e-commerce sites and online shopping are increasing in popularity, a fast loading page is essential in maintaining a competitive advantage. Here are some reasons a slow page load time is reducing your conversion rate.
1. Less traffic
Research shows that an average of 80% of website visitors never returns when a site gives them a slow performance experience. This will result in less traffic as if this occurs frequently, search engines will view it as a sign that the site does not offer any value to the user.
Traffic loss will eventually lead to loss of user engagement and conversion.
2. Increase in bounce rate
Bounce rate refers to the percentage of users who have abandoned a website without going to another page or performing any action on that site.
Google stated that a user clicking out of your website increases by 32% as the page load time goes from 1 second to 3 seconds. Just a second more delay in load time results in a loss of 11% of page views and a 7% reduction in conversion.
From signing up, to filling out a form, to checking out, users won’t be able to take their desired action if a page takes several seconds to load.
3. Lower search rankings
Page load time has a huge impact on search engine rankings. One of the main goals of any website is to rank high in search engines as it means they get exposed to more users, leading to more clicks, and eventually, more conversions.
A particular algorithm is used by Google to determine how to rank a website. One of the factors that Google uses to rank a website is page speed. This means that Google leads consumers to faster loading sites and content.
4. Bad customer experience
Aside from search rankings, the page load time also impacts customer satisfaction. A slow-loading page contributes to a bad customer experience. How your website makes a customer feel is very important. Would you go back to a place where you felt annoyed or frustrated? The answer would be no. Your customers will feel the same way facing a slow-loading website.
The speed at which they can browse a page, sign up, add to their cart, or complete a purchase generates satisfaction. Enabling them to do their desired actions seamlessly contributes to a pleasant experience, which can even lead to positive customer reviews and word of mouth. Positive reviews can lead to the increased popularity of the brand and increased conversions.
5. Lose business to the competition
A slow website increases a user’s impatience and frustration which can then drive them to your competitors. Consumers now have more options, and there are millions of e-commerce sites that make it a priority to optimize their pages for enhanced user experience. There is nothing stopping them from leaving a slow-loading site and clicking a faster one.
Users now have higher expectations. When those expectations aren’t reached, they will look to other businesses that have the capacity to satisfy their needs.
Tips to Improve Page Load Time
Many factors contribute to page load time. Your web design, web host, optimization, bandwidth, and content are just some elements that can impact how fast your website loads.
Here are some tips you can use to improve your page load time.
- Test Your Website Performance. For starters, regular site checks and testing need to be scheduled in order to track issues and determine areas that need to be improved.
There are many tools available for you. A free tool you can use is Google’s PageSpeed Insights. What it does is audit your website and show you an estimate of how fast a page loads. It will then give you a report containing a list of issues and areas that you can improve.
- Reduce third-party elements or scripts. Remove any third-party elements that you’re no longer using or those that are outdated as they will only slow down your page. Review all your plugins and check if there are better alternatives. Only retain the ones that you need and you know won’t overload your server.
- Use a better content delivery network (CDN). A CDN reduces page load time by caching content in different locations. This enables the servers to be near the user rather than the main host. What happens is that when a visitor performs an action on the page and issues a request, the request will go to the CDN instead of getting the data all the way from the original server.
- Optimize for Core Web Vitals (CWV). The CWV is a group of ranking signals that are part of Google’s Page Speed Experience Ranking score. Google made recent updates to CWV and added three additional ranking signals which are the Cumulative Layout Shift, First Input Delay, and Largest Contentful Paint. These three tackles (in the order given) a website’s stability, interactivity, and load speed. You can refer to Google’s recommendations for improving your scores or go for a core web vitals consultation to make sure that your website is optimized for Page Experience and CWV.
- Lazy load content. This will allow images that the user is ready to view to load first, then the remaining images will only load once the viewer scrolls to that particular area of the page. This technique will allow proper bandwidth allocation and will mostly focus on the area that is already visible to the user.
- Remove or convert any large elements. Optimize your images so that they’re fast loading. You can make sure that they do load fast by testing or viewing a page on different devices.
If it takes an image some time to load, then you need to compress it into a smaller size. Tools like Photoshop or online software like tiny png can be useful in converting images to the appropriate sizes.
Page load speed is important no matter what kind of website you own. A beautiful web design is necessary, but a fast-loading website is critical for delivering a great user experience and increasing conversion rates.