Your Slow Website Is Costing You Customers

Three seconds might not seem like a long time, but did you know 40% of customers will leave a website if that's how long it takes a site to load? Here are some tips to help you improve your site's loading time and retain all the leads coming to your pages.

When it comes to marketing online, your website is your first chance at making a good impression on potential customers. It serves as the face of your company in the digital world, and as such, it needs to provide a positive representation to bring in new customers and keep current customers coming back.

In addition to the design and layout of the website, it’s equally important to consider user experience on your site. This especially applies to website speed as it’s the first interaction consumers have with your site.

How does load time affect conversions?

As business owners, we don’t typically think about the impact our website speed may have on the bottom line, but a slow website can seriously impact inbound leads.

Take a quick step back and think about how you utilize websites. If you click on a website in the search results and it takes longer than a few seconds to load, how likely are you to backtrack and choose a different search result?

If you’re like most consumers, that answer is pretty likely.

In fact, 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load, with 47% believing sites should load in two seconds or less.

This means that you could lose nearly half of your potential customers before they even access your website.

For those who do remain on the site, the more pages they try to access and the more wait time they have, the less likely they are to make a purchase, fill out a form, or even return to your website.

Not only does poor load time affect whether or not consumers stay on your site, though, it also affects how many people see your site in search results. Website speed is a factor in the Google Search Algorithm, which means that websites with slower load times will be docked and shown lower in the search results.

This can also affect inbound leads as it limits the chances of people clicking on your website.

What can you do to improve site speed?

One of the first things you can do is test your website’s current load time. There are a number of tools you can use, such as Google PageSpeed Insights or Pingdom, which allow you to view the load time of both your mobile version and desktop version of your website, as well as provide suggestions about what you can do to improve site load time.

Here are a few general things you can check to help improve your site speed to get started:

  • Image sizes: Larger sized images take longer to load, so by reducing image sizes across the website, you can help increase the site speed.
  • Website plugins: Many sites utilize plugins on the backend for a variety of reasons, but be careful of going overboard because too many plugins actually harm your website, including by slowing down load time.
  • Broken links: You should review your website for broken links for many reasons, but also because 404/410 errors can increase bandwidth and load time.
  • Browser caching: Caching refers to the process of storing static files, such as media files, images, HTML documents, CSS files and more, so that the database doesn’t have to retrieve them for every new request. By enabling browser caching, you can help increase site speed time and user experience overall.
  • Website theme: Another big factor that can affect website load time is an outdated or complex website theme. By changing your theme and choosing one based on performance and functionality rather than just aesthetic, you can help increase load time on your website.

There are many additional things you can do to improve your website speed, include using a content delivery network and reducing DNS lookups, but these are just a few to get you started.

As you evaluate your website, it can be a bit overwhelming, but remember that by improving your website speed, you can help increase your overall inbound leads.

John Sammon is the CEO of Sixth City Marketing, a Cleveland-based agency focused on helping businesses create a revenue-generation system through online marketing channels (such as SEO, PPC and social media).

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