Website Development September 5th, 2022
Website Performance is a measurement of multiple factors directly related to website speed and user experience. Generally speaking, a high-performing website with a quick load time will often have higher conversion rates and organic rankings on search engines than its competitors.
When discussing website speed and loading performance, it’s important to understand how website speed and loading time are measured.
We’re not looking at just one factor but measuring how quickly each web page loads and the loading speed of all on-page elements, such as text and images.
It may not seem like much to the human eye, but a load time of a millisecond longer than your competitors’ websites may be enough for them to outperform you.
In order to better understand how to increase the performance of your website, let’s dig deeper into the top five factors that affect website performance:
1. Poorly Structured Code: There are three forms of code found on a website, including:
When a website developer structures these codes incorrectly, not only can it have a negative effect on website speed and loading time, but it also confuses search engines and results in poor organic rankings.
2. Connection Speed: Don’t confuse connection speed and website speed. All the factors listed affect website speed, but in this section, we are strictly discussing connection speed.
Connection speed is a problem on the users’ end, so if you’re a website owner looking to improve your website performance, keep scrolling.
On the other hand, if you’re a user constantly frustrated by the speed of multiple websites, it may be time to switch your WIFI providers.
3. Server/Hosting platform: Your web hosting provider and server are responsible for storing all website data.
No matter how much website optimization you do, you will never get ahead of the game if your website is stored on a poor server. When looking for a web hosting provider, ensure they offer an uptime of 99.5% – 99.9%.
Now, if your website is generating traffic from multiple sources, you may want to look into a Content Delivery System (CDS), which will pull your content from the nearest server to the user to reduce load time.
Lastly, web hosting may also slow down your website if the provider cannot cope with slight increases in HTTP requests, including adding new plugins.
4. File Types and Sizes: The larger the file sizes and the more files found on a website, the longer the site will take to load.
When uploading files such as images to a website, it is crucial to compress them before uploading them to your website to minimize load speed.
5. Mobile optimization: With most users engaging in online activity through mobile devices, ensuring your website is optimized for mobile has never been more critical.
Since 2019, Google has been using the mobile version of a website to evaluate and determine where it ranks.
A website optimized for mobile devices is vital to competing online, and a big part is ensuring that it is responsive, accessible and loads fast on mobile devices.
Now that we’ve covered some of the main factors that impact your website speed let’s discuss why it is so important and how it relates to SEO.
Website speed, or a lack thereof, has a big impact on your organic rankings. One significant SEO signal is load performance. Load speed and bounce rate are two well-known SEO signals that Google uses when ranking websites and are often directly related.
A website that loads slowly will have a higher bounce rate than one that doesn’t and vice versa. If improving organic rankings and increasing your conversion rate is part of your goal, improving your website speed must be part of the solution.
Put yourself in your user’s shoes—if the content they seek takes substantially longer to access than that of your competitors, why should they stay on your website?
Having a strong website performance will help you build credibility and provide a positive user experience for online visitors.
This helps keep them on your website longer, which increases the chances they will make a purchase or contact the brand. How long users stay on your website is also an SEO ranking factor; the longer they stay, the better chances the website will have of improving its rankings.
If people stay on your website longer than your competitors, it’s a good sign that you have useful content or services people enjoy.
Thus, the faster your website can load, the longer people will stay on it, and the better chances you have of overtaking your competitors in Google search, which is vital to increasing traffic and lead generation.
Most industry studies show that the bounce rate increases exponentially for every extra second the loading is delayed after the first four seconds that someone visits a website.
Consumers in the 21st century have come to expect fast-loading websites when browsing online. If you are not focused on the load performance of your website, you are likely losing customers to your competitors.
There are a number of ways you can improve your website’s load performance. Optimizing your page speed will help you rank higher, leading to fewer bounces and higher conversion rates.
Here are some great tips for improving website performance and speed:
Many tools can be used to measure website performance and the factors influencing that performance. Two of the most effective tools readily available are:
GT Metrix is a free third-party website that provides a clear letter grade for the overall performance of your website while also offering insights into factors such as website structure, page speed and individual loading times (as seen in the image below).
If you see a subpar or declining performance, that is an excellent indication that it is time to prioritize the optimization of your website.
Google Lighthouse is a free extension developed directly by Google to provide users with insights into website performance otherwise unavailable.
Similar to GT Metrix, Google lighthouse provides a grade for website performance (as seen in the image below) but also goes deeper into factors such as accessibility, best practices and SEO on both desktop and mobile.
If you’re interested in keeping up to date with the best practices for helping your website grow, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is a great organization to follow.
Since being founded in 1994, W3C has been the international standards organization for the world wide web. They consistently release new information regarding all standards that must be met when operating a business online.
Regardless of your industry or business, your website will likely be the first touchpoint for prospective customers and clients. Websites are how modern consumers conduct their research and evaluate if your product or service is worth their time and money.
And even though it may only take your website a few seconds longer to load than your competitors, those seconds may as well be a lifetime in today’s age of instant access.
Frustrated users aren’t likely to stick around to check out the content and pages you’ve put so much effort into, which not only means you’ll lose their business, but your search ranking will also be negatively affected by a high bounce rate.
In the days of AOL and dial-up internet, it wasn’t unusual to wait several minutes or longer for a single web page to load, but with limited options, users didn’t have much choice.
Those days are long gone, and you’ve now got roughly four seconds to make a great impression on visitors. That’s why optimizing your website’s speed and performance isn’t just a good idea; it’s an absolute necessity.
If the work that goes into website optimization seems daunting, that’s okay; you wouldn’t try to rebuild your car engine yourself, after all.
The amount of content and resources a website needs to load often has the most significant impact on site speed, although that’s not to say that large websites will not have a high site speed.
As long as the internal code, hosting platform, file uploads and all other factors follow best practices, your website speed should not be an issue.
According to a 2019 study by the website Portent, 0-4 second load time has the best conversion rate. Although considering the rapid growth of competition across the World Wide Web, your website will likely need a load time within 2 seconds to reduce bounces.
The top converting websites on Google routinely have load times under 1 second.
While there are a number of ways to improve website performance, many of the most important factors are listed below.
The more data points are stored in the server, the longer it will take to load the necessary data. It’s crucial to ensure the server you choose regularly removes outdated data from the server.