How does site speed impact conversion rates & sales

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The average page load time should be between 2 to 4 seconds. In fact, some say that ideally, your website’s load time should be less than 2 seconds. Did you know that website speed impacts your conversion rates? Also, if you are running an online store will impact the number of sales you make? Explore how load times, conversion rates, and sales are all interconnected below.

Man testing site speed on desktop.

In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, where instant gratification is the norm, the need for speed has never been more critical for online businesses. Picture this: You’ve just stumbled upon an enticing online store with a wide array of products that pique your interest. You’re ready to make a purchase, but as you click through the site, frustration sets in. Pages load at a snail’s pace, and every second feels like an eternity. Suddenly, that enticing online shopping spree doesn’t seem so appealing anymore.

This scenario is all too familiar for online shoppers, and it’s one that can spell disaster for e-commerce businesses. Site speed – the time it takes for your web pages to load – can make or break your chances of converting visitors into customers.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the fascinating world of site speed and explore how it exerts a profound influence on conversion rates and ultimately, your sales figures. So, fasten your seatbelts, because we’re about to take a high-speed journey into the intricate relationship between site speed and online success.

What is site speed?

Website loading time refers to the time that it takes for a website to load and display. This includes any material on the webpage such as text, images, or video. Simply the speed with which the entire website loads. Page speed depends upon various factors including:

  • page types,
  • user behavior,
  • file size,
  • website host,
  • faulty code,
  • hot links,
  • and overloaded plugins and widgets.

Almost 75% of respondents said page speed affects a person’s ability to shop online at a retailer. The same holds true for exploring the site of a business that provides various services. This is why as a business you need to boost that site speed, if you haven’t already. One way to help improve speed & performance is to invest in WordPress / WooCommerce Support services.

How to measure site speed?

The page load time is probably the most popular measure of internet speed. This statistic describes the time taken between the first time a visitor attempts a website and loading the contents in the browser.

A popular tool to measure site speed is Google PageSpeed Insights. Page speed insights measure page performance on desktop and mobile devices. This tool will not only provide you with various numbers but also with recommendations. You will receive recommendations to enhance website performance and suggestions for actionable insights to speed web development.

It will provide you with data pertaining to Core web vitals such as:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
  • First Input Delay (FID)
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
  • First Contentful Paint (FCP)
  • Interaction to Next Paint (INP)
  • Time to First Byte (TTFB)

Moreover, it will offer suggestions about accessibility, SEO, and best practices in terms of security.

Core web vitals, what are these metrics about?

There are six core web vitals that Google and other search engines use to measure the speed & performance of your site. First up we have the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) which assesses the time it takes to render the largest and most significant content element on the screen. This could be a large block of text or an image, it depends on your site.

It’s common to prioritize “Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)” because it directly measures how quickly the main content of a page loads, which is a critical factor in user satisfaction. LCP reflects the perceived loading speed and visual stability of a webpage, making it a key indicator of a good user experience.

Following that we have the First Input Delay (FID). This metric quantifies the responsiveness of a web page by measuring the delay between a user’s first interaction (e.g., clicking a button) and the page’s ability to respond to that input. We also have a metric called Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) it gauges the visual stability of a web page by measuring the cumulative amount of unexpected layout shifts that occur during a user’s interaction with the site.

Moreover, we have a Core web vital metric such as First Contentful Paint (FCP). This metric measures the loading performance of a web page by measuring the time it takes for the first content element to be rendered on the screen, providing a visual indication of when the page starts to display meaningful content to the user. We also have Interaction to Next Paint (INP), which measures the time it takes for a web page to respond visually after a user interacts with it. So it’s measuring the delay between a user action (such as a click or tap) and the subsequent content being painted on the screen.

Finally, we have Time to First Byte (TTFB) which measures the time it takes for a web server to send the first byte of data in response to a user’s request, indicating the initial server response speed when accessing a webpage.

Some load time statistics:

The recommended page loading speed is less than 2 seconds!

by Google

Speed is critical in the field of customer services, particularly for fast deliveries. It’s also critical for online stores that need to boost their conversion rates and have more leads. Finally, it’s important in terms of the number of sales.

What are the key factors that impact the loading speed of a website?

Let’s explore some of the key factors that impact the loading speed of your website. Some of these factors include web hosting, file types & sizes, plugins, images, cache and not cleaning up code. Find out more details below.

Two business people standing in server room with laptop and discussing site speed

Server / Hosting

Server/web hosting plays a crucial role in determining a website’s speed and overall performance. The choice of hosting provider, server location, and server specifications directly affect how quickly a website loads. A reliable and well-optimized hosting provider with modern hardware can significantly reduce page load times.

For instance, studies have shown that websites hosted on faster servers experience lower bounce rates, with a 1-second delay in page load time resulting in a 7% decrease in conversions

(Source: Akamai).

Additionally, server location matters as it affects the physical distance data must travel, impacting latency. Content delivery networks (CDNs) can help mitigate this issue by caching and delivering content from servers closer to the user, resulting in faster load times. In summary, server/web hosting plays a pivotal role in site speed, with improved hosting leading to faster load times, better user experiences, and potentially higher conversion rates.

File types & sizes

File type and file size significantly impact a website’s loading speed. The file type determines how efficiently a browser can render content, with text-based formats like HTML and CSS loading quickly, while resource-intensive formats like images, videos, or complex scripts take longer. Additionally, the file size directly affects loading times, as larger files demand more bandwidth and time to transfer from the server to the user’s device.

Compressing and optimizing files, choosing the appropriate image formats (e.g., WebP for photographs and graphics), and minimizing the use of heavy scripts and plugins are essential steps to reduce file size and improve site speed. Prioritizing these factors ensures a faster, more user-friendly web experience, which is crucial for retaining visitors and optimizing a website’s performance in search engine rankings.

Plugins

Installing too many plugins will slow down your website speed. You should only install plugins that you truly need and that come from a trusted source. Typically you should only have 10 to 20 plugins installed on your WordPress site. When we see websites that have 50, 70, or 100 plugins, this is a huge red flag. Oftentimes you don’t need these many plugins and chances are they aren’t working properly either.

Plugins can slow down a WordPress site because each plugin typically adds extra code and functionality to the site. This additional code can result in increased server resource usage and longer loading times, as the website has to process and execute more scripts. Additionally, plugins can conflict with each other or with the WordPress core, leading to errors and inefficiencies. Therefore, it’s essential to carefully choose and limit the number of plugins used on a WordPress site to maintain optimal performance and user experience.

Female searching for images. Image optimization for a faster loading website

Images

Before uploading any images to your website, make sure to optimize them. Make sure to resize your images so that they aren’t as heavy. Also, convert them to a file size that is optimal for your site, for example, WebP.

WordPress also has limits in place that prevent you from uploading a file that is too big in terms of size. It’s best to compress images using a tool such as tinyPNG. It will shrink the file but you won’t lose quality. This will speed up page loading time and improve user experience. Thus making website visitors stay and your site and hopefully visit more often.

Let’s explore a real-life example:

A health and fitness app optimized workout videos and images. This reduced the app size by 40%. Thus leading to a 25% decrease in installation time. Consequently, the app saw a 20% increase in user retention as users experienced quicker app downloads and smoother performance.

Health & fitness app – Fitbit

Cache

Implementing caching can significantly enhance site load time by storing frequently accessed data or web page elements temporarily. When a user visits a website that utilizes caching, the server can retrieve pre-stored content, such as HTML files, images, or database queries, instead of generating them from scratch every time. This means reduced server processing and reduced network latency, resulting in faster page rendering.

Caching mechanisms like:

  • browser caching,
  • Content Delivery Networks (CDNs),
  • and server-side caching

reduce the burden on both the server and the user’s device. Therefore, ultimately delivering a smoother and more responsive browsing experience. By reducing the need for repeated data retrieval and rendering, caching optimizes site load times. Thus making websites load swiftly and efficiently, which is crucial in today’s fast-paced online environment.

Let’s explore a real-life example:

A media streaming site implemented CDNs. This results in a 30% decrease in video buffering times and a 25% increase in user satisfaction. It ensures faster loading time and a smoother browsing experience.

How does page load speed affect customer behavior?

Let’s explore some of the ways page load time will affect customer behavior.

Woman making website interface designs on paper for mobile devices

User experience

Users have high expectations when it comes to website speed. According to a survey by Akamai, 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less, and 40% will abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. You want a faster loading speed to extend user time on your site. A fast website is seen as responsive and intuitive. Whereas a slow site is an annoyance to users and is seen as less trustworthy & credible.

Conversion rates

A sluggish site can lead to frustration, increased bounce rates, and abandoned shopping carts, all of which negatively impact conversion rates. On the flip side, a fast and responsive website enhances user experience, fosters trust, and encourages visitors to stay engaged. This increased user satisfaction often translates into higher conversion rates, as customers are more likely to complete their desired actions. Desired actions such as making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or requesting more information. In essence, site speed is a critical factor in shaping customer behavior in terms of whether they take desirable actions or not. Moreover, site speed is responsible for driving conversions in the competitive online marketplace.

Customer experience survey & rating.

Repeat business/customer loyalty

Site speed significantly influences repeat business and customer loyalty. According to research, a one-second delay in page load time can result in a 7% reduction in conversions, and 40% of users will abandon a website if it takes more than three seconds to load. Slow-loading sites frustrate visitors, leading to a negative user experience.

Dissatisfied customers are less likely to return, with 79% stating they are less likely to buy from a site with performance issues

Conversely, fast-loading sites not only increase customer satisfaction but can also boost revenue, with Walmart reporting a 2% increase in conversion rates for every one-second improvement in load time. In today’s competitive digital landscape, a snappy website is essential for retaining customers, fostering loyalty, and maximizing business success.

What does the data say about page load time and eCommerce sales?

If you are running a WooCommerce shop, page load time is especially important. Let’s take a look at some of the data associated with online shopping and website speed.

Person making online payment when shopping online

Improve the number of transactions & improve site speed

To improve the number of transactions due to the improvement of site speed, several key strategies should be implemented. Firstly, optimize the website’s code and reduce unnecessary elements to streamline its loading process. Implement browser caching and use content delivery networks (CDNs) to minimize latency and speed up content delivery. Compress images and files to reduce their size without compromising quality.

Minimize server response times by upgrading hosting infrastructure or using a high-performance hosting service. Prioritize mobile optimization, as an increasing number of transactions occur on mobile devices. Conduct regular speed tests and performance audits to identify bottlenecks and areas for improvement, and continuously monitor and tweak the site’s speed for optimal user experience. A faster website not only enhances user satisfaction but also encourages higher engagement and conversion rates, ultimately leading to an increase in transactions.

Optimal site speed for increased sales

A critical factor in boosting WooCommerce online sales is optimal site speed. According to various studies and industry benchmarks, it is widely recommended that a webpage should load within 2 to 3 seconds to maximize conversions.

A one-second delay in page load time can lead to a significant drop in conversion rates, with potential losses of up to 7% in sales.

Furthermore, a slow-loading website can result in higher bounce rates, reduced user engagement, and decreased customer satisfaction. In contrast, faster-loading sites tend to experience higher customer retention, increased time spent on the site, and improved overall user experience, all of which contribute to enhanced sales and revenue growth. Therefore, optimizing site speed is a fundamental strategy for online businesses aiming to drive increased sales and revenue.

Amazon case study

Amazon ran a study back in 2008, to show how important page speed is for their business. In Amazon’s case study, they wanted to show that load speed can impact conversions, sales, and overall revenue. The original case study is hard to find, but Amazon reported that a 100-millisecond increase in page load time led to a 1% decrease in sales. Conversely, they found that for every 100 milliseconds of improvement, they saw a 1% increase in revenue.

How does page load speed affect SEO?

Page load times will affect search engine optimization. It has a direct impact on rankings and user bounce rates. Let’s explore each of these cases below.

Search engine rankings

Page speed directly impacts SEO performance by ranking your website using Core Web Vitals signals from Google. Slow loading can negatively impact search engine results, which is primarily because of the fact that the bounce rate is higher.

Moreover, a slow-loading website can impact bots that crawl your site for indexing. This can lead to incomplete indexing, with some pages not being included in search engine results. Furthermore, if search engine crawlers repeatedly encounter slow-loading pages, they may crawl the site less frequently, which can impact how quickly new content is indexed and how often search engine rankings are updated.

Also, Google indexes mobile-first pages higher. Webpages that are developed mobile first are critically important for search engine ranking and for speed. So if you have slow-loading pages on a mobile device, this can result in poor user experiences and lower rankings. Therefore, optimizing site speed for mobile users is essential to maintain or improve search engine ranks.

Site speed impacts search engine ranks by influencing user experience, mobile friendliness, and the crawlability and indexability of a website. To improve search engine rankings, it’s essential to optimize your website for speed by minimizing page load times.

Example of how site speed boosts organic traffic

Mozilla improved its page load speed by 2.2 seconds and experienced a 15.4% increase in organic traffic, demonstrating the impact of speed on search rankings.

conversion-rate-page-load-time
Image Source: Cloudflare.com

Bounce rates

Slow website loading times will cause increased bounce and decreased time on the website. When you’re looking to sell online then slow speed will result in some sort of loss. A study by Google Think found that as page load time goes from one second to three seconds, the probability of bounce increases by 32%.

A faster-loading website will lead to lower bounce rates, which indicates that users are more likely to stay longer on a website. Moreover, they will take the time to explore the website. Also, a lower bounce rate is a green light for search engines and will likely lead to an increase in rankings.

Example of the correlation between bounce rates and site speed

Pinterest improved its perceived wait time by 40% and saw a 15% increase in SEO traffic and a 10% increase in user-generated ad revenue.

Data reported by Akamai.

They note the direct correlation between reduced bounce rates and improved search rankings, with websites experiencing lower bounce rates ranking higher in search results.

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How does Google PageSpeed Insight mobile score impact conversion rates?

Mobile users are becoming increasingly more important to Google and how it structures its algorithms. Websites with mobile-first designs and/or are mobile-friendly, will rank higher on search engines, than those who are not. More and more individuals are switching to their mobile devices for browsing the internet, online shopping, etc. This is why it’s important to pay attention to this score on Google PageSpeed Insights. Ideally, you want a score of 90 or above, which would indicate a well-performing website.

Workmates talking about a bar chart. Analyzing the impact site speed has on online shop sales

How does it impact sales?

Google PageSpeed Insight mobile score can significantly impact sales for businesses that rely on their websites to attract and engage customers. A higher mobile PageSpeed score indicates that a website loads faster and provides a better user experience on mobile devices.

In today’s fast-paced digital world, where users expect instant access to information, a slow-loading website can frustrate potential customers and drive them away. On the other hand, a fast and responsive website not only keeps visitors engaged but also improves their overall experience. Thus making them more likely to stay, explore, and ultimately make a purchase.

Additionally, Google uses PageSpeed Insights as a ranking factor, so a higher mobile score can also improve a website’s visibility in search results, leading to more organic traffic and, ultimately, higher sales opportunities. In summary, a good mobile PageSpeed score is not just about user experience. It can directly impact a business’s bottom line by attracting and retaining customers and improving search engine rankings.

Male entrepreneur using computer while working in the office. He is visiting a a website when pages load faster. Site speed is important to him

TL;DR: Summarising site speeds impact on conversion rates & sales

It’s crystal clear that site speed plays a pivotal role in influencing conversion rates and, ultimately, your sales. Slow-loading websites not only frustrate visitors but also lead to higher bounce rates, causing potential customers to abandon ship before they even have a chance to engage with your content or products. It’s important to use strategies to reduce bounce rates and increase page loading speed to keep customers coming back.

As we’ve seen, tools like Google PageSpeed Insights for mobile can be invaluable in identifying and rectifying performance bottlenecks. By prioritizing site speed optimization, you not only enhance the user experience but also boost your bottom line.

So, why wait? Take action today to supercharge your site’s speed, delight your visitors, and watch your conversion rates and sales soar. Your competitors won’t wait, so seize this opportunity to make your website a high-speed destination for success! Drop us a line & let’s work together to speed up your WordPress site today!

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