The Need for Speed

Why your website needs to be as fast as possible

While we often hear the phrase “content is king” on the web, and while that may be true, there is a fundamental need for your website to be fast. The reasons are numerous and they include:

Keeping your visitors engaged

It should be our number one priority, to delight our site visitors enough to want to do business with us. But the findings of various studies over the years have shown time and again that a slow site has an impact on the happiness of those visiting your site and can also cause a knock-on effect of your site gaining a poor reputation via word of mouth.

Aberdeen Group showed in their report from 2016 that a 3-second delay in site loading will cost you 20% of your audience. This window of time is likely to not have improved over the past few years. Imagine knowing that something you had the option to do something about was costing you 1 in 5 of your sales opportunities. You’d make the change right?

The rule of thumb here is to do what makes your visitors happy as it is needed in order to convert them from a visitor into a customer by fomenting trust.

Aiding your rankings on Search Engine Results Pages

Google is still the big player amongst search engines but all search engines are taking account of the speed of your site in one way or another (it is hard to tell exactly as their algorithms are their business so are closely guarded secrets like the 11 herbs and spices or the Coca Cola recipe which is reputed to be only known by two people, or at least that is what Coca Cola might want us to believe). It is important for your marketing efforts, whether they are via natural rankings or paid advertising within the search engines, that you maintain a speedy website. There are a number of technologies helping you do this including caching and compression. Make sure you are not missing out on speeding up your site.

Maximising revenue

Having a slow site obviously affects the visitors to your site which in turn can cost you opportunities and therefore revenue. To put that into monetary terms is difficult but it didn’t stop Amazon from doing just that over a decade ago when they found that every 100,000 milliseconds of delay in the loading of their pages cost them 1% of their sales. For a behemoth like Amazon that adds up to a lot of money.

Akamai, one of the world leaders in online intelligent business systems found in a 2017 study that a 100,000-millisecond delay can cost you 7% in your conversion rate. To put that in monetary terms achieving a 100,000-millisecond improvement in the speed of your site is likely to net an extra £7 for every £100 of revenue you currently make. That is not an onerous task to achieve such an improvement.

How can we improve speed?

There are a number of tools at our disposal in order to speed up our sites. They might include:

  • Transferring to a speedier host
  • Using file compression technologies
  • Optimising the size of image and video files being delivered
  • Using caching technologies to reduce the number of calls to the server
  • Using a content delivery network to deliver content and reducing the number of hops made between the site visitors browser and the server in order to deliver content.

As you can see there is a real business case to be made for keeping an eye on your site speed and optimising for a faster website. But be aware that this is not a set it and forget it a task, this is a factor that is worth keeping an eye on regularly.

By: Martin Gordon

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