If you own a small business, work for one, or are thinking about starting one (and you probably do, since you’re reading this), you’ve probably heard all about how important having a business website is. And we hope you’re already convinced of that, because that’s not what we’re going to focus on today. Instead, we’ll be focusing on something: website speed as an essential part of your website.
Website speed is the time it takes for a website to fully load. In general, users expect a website to load within a few seconds. If it takes longer than that, some of those users will wait, but others will turn their attention elsewhere. Today, we’re going to talk about why that is and the impact it has on a business.
Speed is an Expectation, Not a Preference
We hinted at it in our introduction, but users simply are not willing to wait for a website to load for very long. In a world of lightning-fast load times, a site that takes 8 seconds to load feels like an eternity.
The bottom line is that website users have become much more demanding in the recent years. Whereas before, a fast website was simply nice to have, now it is a requirement. And if a user visits your website only to find it doesn’t load quickly for them, not only will they leave, they likely won’t come back, either.
In fact, 47% of consumers expect a page to load in 2 seconds or less, according to a report from Kissmetrics. After 2 seconds, many of them leave, and the amount of users who leave grows and grows until practically nobody sticks around and waits for your site to load.
Think about it: do you spend the time waiting for a website to load if it takes a while? If you do, you’re in the minority. Most likely, you exit the website and head somewhere else.
Your Website Speed Affects Google Rankings
Google has come right out and said that website speed affects rankings. In fact, they are rehauling that stance as of this year to make it more mobile-centric. This means if your website is slow, it drives away would-be customers and gets placed lower in Googles search results.
The worst part about this phenomenon is that it sends your website into a downward spiral. You see, when Google sees that users click onto a website and stick around for a while, it signals to them that the website is worth the user’s time, and Google is more likely to boost that site’s rankings as a result. Again, Google has confirmed that these sorts of things—dubbed “user signals” by them—influence rankings. But when Google sees that users visit a website and quickly click off—as they almost certainly will if your website takes too long to load—then Google will lower the site’s rankings as a result. This leads to a cycle where lower rankings mean fewer clicks, which lead to further lowered rankings and so on.
It Also Affects Your Crawl Budget
A slow website speed can also affect the way Google sees your site.
Since Google is basically tasked with knowing where everything is on the internet, it sends out digital robots to look through each and every website so Google has an idea of what’s where. This is process is called crawling, and the robots are called crawlers.
If a website hasn’t been crawled by Google, then Google doesn’t know that it exists, let alone what is on it. When this happens, a website is basically invisible.
Fortunately, Google is very good about crawling websites. It’s very rare that a website is left uncrawled by accident.
Because of the sheer number of websites that exist to be crawled, Google has to be smart about how it divides its resources. Their solution was to give each site something called a crawl budget. This means that on any given day, Google will only crawl a certain number of pages on your site. This is usually fine, but if you publish a blog, update or your site, or add new products, you want Google to see those changes as soon as possible. With a large site and a low crawl budget, it can sometimes take weeks for Google to see those new pages!
Google has explicitly stated that website speed is a factor that influences crawl budget. So by increasing website speed, you can always ensure that your updates will be seen by Google as soon as you post them.
Website Speed Directly Influences Conversion Rate and Profitability
Bottom line, your website should make you money. Websites cost a lot of money to build and maintain, so what’s the point of having one if it doesn’t help your business make more money? Fortunately, almost all websites are built with profitability in mind. But if your website is too slow, that dropoff in traffic we talked about before can also lead to a pretty massive dropoff in revenue.
In fact, we’ve got another Kissmetrics statistic for you: for every additional second (after 2) that your website takes to load, conversions drop by 7% and continue to drop in 7% intervals for each additional second.
If that doesn’t put it into perspective for you, consider this. Amazon did a test to better understand how their page speed affected their sales. In the end, they concluded that if their site was just 1 second slower, they would love $1.6 billion dollars per year.
So even if you don’t think a slow website will affect your business, it probably will.
The Takeaway for Business Owners (and Next Steps)
The bottom line is that if your website isn’t fast, it won’t be doing it’s job: making you more money. However, upgrading your website pagespeed is a complicated process that you absolutely should not attempt without the help of a developer. Pagespeed is the product of dozens of factors, and it’s often difficult enough to simply diagnose why a page isn’t loading quickly, let alone what steps can be taken to improve it.
If you want to test your website speed yourself, the best thing to do is just go to Google’s Pagespeed Insights page. Simply type in your website and Google will perform a speed analysis of your website.
The best thing you can do for your website is to talk to your developer about what they can do to get your website speed back to where it should be. If you don’t have a developer, you should know that webFEAT Complete offers all sorts of web design and development services. We even offer a special hosting plan where we will keep your website up to date for you, which will help with speed.