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Website speed is probably one of the most critical, yet underrated, factors of an optimal-functioning website. We’ve all been there: we try to load a website, it takes forever for the Home page to display, you click on something, and then it completely freezes. Unfortunately, many users are likely to abandon slow sites at this stage.   

According to research by Digital.com, one in two website users will abandon a website that takes too long to load. From the survey of 1,250 online shoppers, 21% of them said that websites that don’t load fast enough are the main source of frustration when shopping online, while 45% of respondents have a negative perception of online businesses with slow-loading pages.

21% of online shoppers said that websites that don’t load fast enough are their main source of frustration. 

These shocking figures support just how important website speed is when you have an ecommerce site because it could be the difference between making a quick sale or losing a potential customer forever. Before we get into how to test the speed of your website, let’s chat about why you should be paying attention to how fast your website loads.

Why is Website Speed Important?

As ecommerce website owners, a key aspect that helps customers navigate their buyer journey and lead them across the finish line to purchase from you is the user experience offered. We’ve got to remember that in the world of online shopping, you’re running against several competitors that are literally just a couple of clicks away. What sets you apart, besides the quality of your products and/or services, is the experience you offer visitors who come to your site to see what you can offer.

If you think about it carefully, you’ll soon realise that website speed plays a larger role in brand perception than we can even fathom. Online shoppers use the speed of your website as an indicator of how professional and reliable your business is. Besides that, users also find slow websites quite annoying to navigate and would rather opt for another ecommerce provider.

Moving to the back-end of things into the world of SEO, did you know that a slow website impacts SEO because it’s one of Google’s positive ranking signals? This means that if your website loads slowly, search engines are likely to prioritise other better-performing sites.

Let’s not forget that the longer your site takes to load, the higher your bounce rate will be. Why is your bounce rate so important? The bounce rate of your website represents the percentage of users who take a look at your site and then leave without exploring it any further or making a purchase. This ties into SEO because a high bounce rate means that search engines will consider the content on your site to not be of any use.

In a nutshell, a slow-loading website can impact:

  • Sales
  • Customer loyalty
  • SEO
  • Brand perception

Now that you understand the “why”, let’s talk about what the ideal speed of your website should be.

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How Fast Should Your Website Load?

The ideal loading speed for an ecommerce site is three seconds. Digital.com’s survey indicates that 53% of online shoppers expect ecommerce sites to load within three seconds or less. Google’s recommended website load time is within two seconds, and the firm considers this to be the “threshold for ecommerce website acceptability”.

53% of online shoppers expect ecommerce sites to load within three seconds or less

However, it’s also important to note that website speeds differ across industries and types of devices used such as mobiles and desktops. There are several factors that influence the speed of a website, and unfortunately, not all of them are within our control. Some of the most common factors that can reduce the conversion rate of a website include:

  • Website hosting server
  • Amount of bandwidth in transit
  • Web page design
  • Elements on the page such as non-optimised videos and heavy images
  • User location and connectivity
  • Type of device
  • Browser type
  • Plugins, add-ons and scripts 

How to Test Website Speed

There are some really helpful online tools out there that are designed to help you figure out whether your website lags or sprints like a marathon runner. Some of the best and most popular tools include:

  1. Pingdom Tools
  2. Google Test My Site
  3. GTmetrix
  4. PageSpeed Insights

The best part about these tools is that all you need to do is enter your website URL and you’ll get a detailed performance analysis report in a matter of seconds. Most of these tools will break the report down into mobile and desktop as you’ll have different website speeds for these types of devices.

Additionally, the analysis reports generated by most of these tools will also give you suggestions on how to reduce your website’s loading speed, with an estimated indicator of how much time each suggestion will shave off your existing website speed.

Some of the other metrics you’ll have access to include performance grades, page size and total page requests.

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How to Improve Website Speed

The good news is that if your website speed isn’t up to scratch, there are plenty of ways to sort it out in no time. Here are some of the easiest and most helpful ways to improve website speed:

An HTTP request is made when your website downloads different elements such as images and scripts. The more on-page components featured on your website, the longer it’ll take to load.

To speed up your website load time, you can:

  • Remove unnecessary plug-ins
  • Remove images you don’t need
  • Reduce the file size of the images you do need
  • Remove unnecessary videos
  • Enable Gzip compression to compress your pages and stylesheets before sending them through to the browser
  • Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for quick transfer of user requests to the nearest server

Ready to Get Your Website Speed Tested?

As you can see, website speed is quite an influential factor in the performance of your ecommerce store and is undeniably one of the most important factors to achieve customer loyalty, conversions, and, of course, search rankings. It is incredibly important for ecommerce website owners to regularly monitor their website speeds to ensure that it doesn’t become a little sales inhibitor sneaking around in the shadows.

For more fabulous tips and tricks on building up a profitable and efficient ecommerce website, check out our Hitchhiker’s Guide To Making Money Online!

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