If You Build It, They Will Come… if the Page Loads

August 16, 2018

Attracting prospects to your website means the battle is over, right?

As any marketer knows, a prospect is truly won over once they convert on your site, being it signing up for an email list, purchasing a product, or directly sending a query about a service.

This is the real bread and butter of marketing and the way in which we can gauge successful campaigns.

If you are focused on driving conversions, then you need to be focused on the speed of your site.

Wait, site speed? Not content, or branding, or the other litany of elements on a website that drive conversions? 

Exactly, site speed. If you think users will wait for your website to load before they convert, think again!

If you are not thinking about site speed, then you are missing a key optimization component in your digital marketing efforts.

What is Site Speed?

According to Google, site speed reflects how quickly a website responds to web requests. 

For those of us who don’t speak Google, think of site speed as the time it takes for your webpage to load and be displayed to the user, and test after test shows that a fast loading site helps in conversions – a lot.

According to a blog by digital marketing wiz Neil Patel using data from industry analytics firms Akamai and Gomez.com, nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less, and they tend to abandon a site that isn’t loaded within 3 seconds.

And when a site loads slow, its users are less likely to convert. A similar article by Patel with data from Akamai and Gomez.com found that a 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.

If you follow that statistic over several seconds, the problem begins to compound significantly.

But this is nothing new. In fact, this knowledge goes back to at least 2009, when Google published tests indicating that when sites respond slowly, users spend less time.

So, if you haven’t been focusing on site speed during the past DECADE, the time is NOW.

Where to Start

The first step should always be to benchmark your sites performance and determine if you actually have a problem.

If you are building a new website from scratch, your developer should already be accounting for site speed in their coding and construction.

However, it is still easy for developers and designers to get bogged down in making things look pretty rather than performing well.

Building a pretty new site that runs slowly is like building a sports car with a go-kart engine – all flash with no power.

That is why it is important to stay on top of the developer and do periodic checks to ensure the site is performing well.

For both new and existing sites, tools like PageSpeed Insights, WebPageTest.org, and the YSlow addon for Firefox are good tools to determine how existing sites and those under development are performing.

If you determine your site is performing poorly, how do you fix it?

Likely you will need to work with a developer to correct most of the issues, as they could be built into the site template.

Typically there are a few key areas that tend to cause issues for websites when it comes to speed: 

  • Web Hosting ­– Ensure you have the correct package for your business size and traffic. Cheap web hosting usually means slower load speeds for your site.
  • Oversized Images – Large, multi-megabyte images are one of the biggest culprits for a slow site speed. Use PNG for images that do not require high details like logos and JPEG for photos.
  • Too Many Ads – Pop-ups, video pop-ups, and delayed interstitials not only bother your visitors but have the additional drawback of slowing down your site speed.
  • Overdesigned Theme – Custom themes heavy on JavaScript animation, videos, motion graphics and Flash will kill your page speed. Use the less is more approach.
  • Widgets – Do you really need ALL those social buttons or comment areas on your site? Look at data to determine what is important for conversions and engagements and remove the rest.
  • Excess Code – This will likely need to be looked at by a developer. If your HTML/CSS is not efficient or requires too many requests before the site is shown to the user, your page will be slow.

Site Speed and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Not only can site speed have a strong impact on your conversion rate, but it can also greatly influence your ability to be found by and displayed in search engines.

Google has been using site speed in their web search rankings since at least 2010, meaning that in addition to on-page content and backend metadata, site speed is a critical component of SEO and helping to ensure your site ranks well in search engines. 

And while Google previously stated that site speed mainly focused on desktop searches and the rankings of those results, it has now become a priority for the ranking of mobile search results as well.

In addition, a slow page speed means that search engines can crawl fewer pages on your site using their allocated crawl budget, meaning any new pages and recently updated pages will take longer to appear in the search results.

Don’t Get Left Behind – Contact Blue Sky Marketing Today

Site speed is an oft overlooked metric that can have a significant influence on conversions and the indexing of a site by search engines.

Blue Sky Marketing are experts in evaluating existing sites for site speed issues, as well as building new sites that fully comply with best practices in the industry.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can solve your marketing challenges.

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