How fast should your website load? As fast as it takes to get a 90+ Google PageSpeed Score. That’s the general marker for search engine performance, conversions, and user experience.
What is Page Load Time (or Webpage Speed)?
Page load time is how long it takes, in seconds, for a webpage to be fully loaded and displayed by the browser.
Page speed is one of the most important web performance factors. This factor affects bots and people alike. It needs to be taken seriously.
Load time affects your SEO performance, user experience, and conversion rate. You need to make yours as quickly as possible.
If you aren’t sure what page speed is right now, use Google’s free PageSpeed Insights (PSI) tool to find out. You want to aim for a score above 90.
What’s a Good Website Response Time?
For Google, a 90+ PSI score is considered good, 50-90 needs improvement, and below 50 is bad.
Translating that to seconds: under 2.5 seconds is good, 2.5-4 seconds needs improvement, and over 4 seconds is bad.
According to Google, your website’s content should have a near imperceptible load time. This can be a little tricky to pull off.
You don’t need to obsess over this. A practical target is to keep load times under 2 seconds. If all else fails, simply aim to be better than your competition.
The little things matter when it comes to digital performance. If you’re not the best, just be noticeably better than the next person.
Average Load Times
Those of us who obsess over digital performance, tend to forget that most people are not as digitally savvy.
It’s stunning how bad the majority of websites still are.
Here are some quick averages:
- It takes 1.286 seconds on desktop and 2.594 seconds on mobile, for a website to send its first byte of information through.
- Google would very much like this first byte to load in under 0.2 seconds.
- It takes 10.3 seconds on desktop and 27.3 on mobile for a webpage to fully load.
- Again, Google wants this to be under 2.5 seconds.
It’s not that difficult to get under 2.5 seconds. With 10.3 being the average, you can easily blow the competition away with a few tweaks.
That said, let’s get more into why you should even bother to care. (Like almost everything else related to web performance, the answer is mainly because Google does.)
How Does Load Time Affect SEO?
Google uses page speed as a search engine ranking factor. Google knows how short our digital attention spans are.
Its bots won’t show users a page, they’re more likely to bounce from.
Google checks your speed based on historical chrome user experience reports and real-time tool checks.
Speed affects all search result rankings: desktop, mobile, and ads.
How Does Load Time Impact User Experience?
How long do you think most mobile users will wait around for your site to load?
- 1.2 seconds
- 3 seconds
- 4.6 seconds
- 5.8 seconds
The answer is… 3.
That’s right, 53% of mobile users won’t wait over 3 seconds for a mobile page to load. I know I won’t.
And with Google’s shift to mobile-first ranking, it’s even more critical to get this right.
Google trained a deep neural network to evaluate bounce rate and conversion data. Here’s what it found:
- When page load time increases from 1-7 seconds, the probability of a mobile visitor bouncing increases 113%.
- As the number of page elements (text, titles, images) increased from 400 to 6,000, the probability of conversion drops 95%.
Google’s neural network also found that bloated web pages take longer to load. Yes, this is obvious. But apparently often ignored.
- 70% of pages were over 1 MB.
- 36% of pages were over 2 MB.
- 12% were over 4 MB.
In short, for the best user experience you want to keep things fast, lean, and stripped down.
How Does Load Time Affect Conversions?
The majority of web searches are on mobile, with voice search creeping up. So, we’re going to stick with mobile data for this.
Overall, for every second long mobile page load delay, conversions drop by up to 20%. That’s startling.
Smartphone users need instant gratification. If not, they’ll find a competitor.
Over half of all web traffic comes from mobile, yet the web is still poorly optimized for it. Desktop users aren’t immune either.
- 47% of people expect web pages to load in under 2 seconds
- 40% will abandon a site that takes over 3 to load
- A 1 second page response delay can result in a 7% conversion rate drop.
This behavior cuts across all industries. Slow load time = higher bounce rates.
And increased bounce rates = lost revenue. For an e-commerce site making $10,000 per day, dropped conversions due to a one-second delay can cost $2.5 million over a year.
Why is My Website Loading Slowly?
Website speed optimization is an entire field in itself. This can get really technical, so we’ll focus on an overview of the main reasons your website might be slow.
Web hosting is an open industry. Bad hosts with un-optimized servers are a leading cause of slow load times.
No Site Caching
Caching lets browsers save static copies of your site. When users visit, the browser displays this cached version instead of reloading your entire webpage.
No Content Delivery Network
A content delivery network (CDN) is a network of cached sites. Browsers receive cached information from the server closest to them, not the originating one.
Large, uncompressed, unoptimized images add too much file size to websites. Bulkier image formats like PNG, eat up bandwidth.
Many CMS platforms can be terrible for speed and performance. The plugins which give it functionality can also make it bulky.
How to Improve Your Website’s Load Time
With all that covered, how can you get up to 90+?
- Use Google’s PageSpeed to evaluate where you are. PageSpeed will give you initial recommendations.
- Go with a professional, performance-optimized web host.
- Compress your image files.
- Use a Content Delivery Network, like Cloudflare.
- Get off WordPress, go with Drupal. It’s far more lightweight.
- Get your site professionally coded.
- Strip everything down.
- Optimize for mobile.
- Reduce redirects.
These steps will get your website up to a good loading speed. You don’t need to obsess over getting to 100. That’s rare and 90+ will do the job. But do keep up with the latest web tech changes.
Metrics, measurements, and ranking factors are continually shifting, along with consumer behaviour.
It’s worth getting your site professionally analyzed. Most website speed optimization is highly technical. Yet, even micro improvements in speed pay off in dividends.
Reach out to us for help in taking care of this.