When marketers consider the most important factors influencing conversion rates, page-speed often doesn’t feature at the top of list. It seems like an odd thing to care about, fast load times can seem more like a nerd badge-of-honour than the competitive advantage it really is.
The truth is that the speed of your site affects every metric that you should care about. Conversions. Customer satisfaction. Search engine ranking. And ultimately, revenue.
Googling up some data
The largest online businesses in the world have already internalised the truth about page-speed and keep a close eye on it’s impact. Fortunately for site owners everywhere, these mega-companies have released the data gleaned from tracking the impact of speed on millions of conversions.
In the summer of 2012 Google released their data on a proposed new search result page. Google canvases their users and found a preference for showing more search results per page. However, when Google rolled out a change raising the number from 10 to 30 and measured the effect of page speed they noticed a disturbing change. Traffic had dropped by 20% when using the new variant. The difference in load time? Half a second.
It’s no wonder that Google has become one of the internet’s largest champions for internet speed. They’ve released tools for developers to aid in diagnosing and fixing performance leaks (PageSpeed Insights) and contributed hugely to new upcoming internet technologies built for speed (HTTP2).
Not only do Google hold themselves to a high standard but they’re not looking with a critical eye at your website too. Page speed is now one of the over 200 signals Google use when determining where your website should rank.
Page speed and the impatient shopper
Another titan of the internet has reached similar conclusions in the realm of e-commerce. Amazon: the largest online store in the world has calculated an impact on revenue of 1% per 100 milliseconds of improvement in load times. A staggering $1.6 billion of turnover per year can be made or lost with a single additional second. Walmart has reached the same conclusion, echoing the same 1%/100ms figures.
While the scale of these giants are unfathomable, these hard-fought learnings can be applied to e-commerce stores of any size. Take a few moments to apply the above formula to your own data, how much money are you losing to the loading bar every quarter?
How to check and what to do about it?
Before beginning an optimization work, ensure you have Google Analytics installed on your site. Analytics collects timing data which will allow you to measure the impact of any changes you make from here out.
Next, download Google’s PageSpeed Insights from the Chrome store. It can give you a customized best practice todo list specific to your site. This can then be passed onto your website developers.
If you’re thinking about building a new site or redesigning an old one, consider setting page-speed targets with the development team ahead of time. A better result can often be achieved by building with performance in mind rather than trying to speed up a clunker after-the-fact.
Stay fast, stay profitable
Though page speed is just one of many factors influencing conversions, It’s significant enough to warrant revisiting on at least a quarterly basis. This is especially true if you find yourself reaching a plateau after optimizing more significant factors like messaging, design and UX.
Good luck and stay fast!