What is the ideal page load time for my website?Boast Digital
When it comes to your website’s page load time, how fast is fast enough? The simple answer is as quickly as possible. Fact is, even with all the proper indexing and SEO integrations, your website can still experience a high bounce rate if its load time isn’t ideal. In today’s fast-paced digital world, page load time is one of the criteria needed for website improvement. Keep reading to learn more about what a website’s load time is, the ideal page load speed, and how to improve your website page speed for a better user experience.
What is Page Load Time?
In simple terms, this is the average amount of time taken for the website to display content for users to see once they’ve landed on a webpage. Usually, websites with faster page load time tend to have better user engagement, high conversion rates, and lower bounce rates. Why? Simply put, if a website page takes too long to load the user will likely leave and head back to their search results and instead engage with your competitor.
Why is Page Load Time Important?
This performance metric can make or break a website. While every user would prefer a fast website over a slow one any day, page load time is more than just a matter of preference. It highly impacts your website’s success since a longer load time leads to higher bounce rates.
This high bounce rate tells search engines that users don’t find your content useful which ultimately deals a blow to your website’s ratings. This is even worse if you run an e-commerce website because you will potentially lose customers and subsequent sales to your competitors with faster websites. In fact any seo campaign should focus on page speed as part of the overall campaign startegy.
Factors That Can Influence Your Website’s Load Time
There are a number of factors that can lead to the slow-loading of your website. One of such factors is the user’s internet connection. A poor or unstable internet connection can cause a webpage to load slowly. However, this is beyond your control as the website owner, so in this article, we shall be taking a look at those issues affecting your website’s load time that you can resolve on your end.
Poor optimisation of image content
Large images can be a major reason why your page load speed is slow. Large and high-quality images tend to increase the size of the webpage, meaning they require more bandwidth to load. The format of the image can also be a reason for slow page load speed (PNG and GIF formats tend to slow down websites). For better optimisation of these images, website owners and developers need to check and make proper adjustments (image compression) where needed.
For example, instead of using GIF and PNG image formats, you can use JPEG as they are smaller and can make your page load faster.
Web hosting (uptime and server types)
Believe it or not web hosting can play a significant part in your website speed. Engaging a web hosting company with reliable servers is key to ensuring the uptime and speed of your website. There are different types of servers to choose from; VPS (virtual private server), shared, and dedicated servers are some common options. The uptime guarantees (how often the server is available without issues) you get usually depend on the web hosting company you choose, so ensure to always go for a provider that can guarantee you around 99.9% uptime.
After picking out your web hosting company, you’ll also need to pick a server plan that is right for you. Shared servers are usually very cheap, but as the name implies, your website will be sharing some resources with other websites on the shared server. This can be adequate if you are running a small or medium-sized website, but for larger sites, you might not be able to manage adequate speed.
Dedicated servers and VPS are recommended for bigger e-commerce sites where multiple dedicated servers are needed for websites to run at top speed. Suppose you are using a shared server and you discover that your traffic volume has increased. In that case, you can simply upgrade to VPS or a dedicated server to accommodate your website’s new traffic.
Multiple HTTP requests
Too much ‘flash’ content
While flash contents like audios, images, animations, sliders, and videos are great for making a website more interactive and engaging, they tend to slow download speed because of their large sizes. Flash content should be minimised or replaced with alternatives like HTML5.
Some plugins on WordPress like Slider Revolution generally have high pay load, but there are options within Slider Revolution to optimise the content, including ‘lazy loading’ the content so it’s last to load on your page. Therefore, providing your users with the content they are after in the first instance.
Ideal Page Load Time for My Website
Ideally, you should want your webpage load time to be less than 3 seconds to rank alongside 50% of websites in terms of speed. In fact, Semrush point out that if your website page loads in 0.8 seconds, its faster than 94% of the web.
If you run an e-commerce site, the threshold should be between 2-3 seconds according to Google Search Central – Site Performance for Webmasters. This 2-3 second threshold is usually the turning point where your website’s bounce rate can significantly increase. Studies have shown that up to 40% of users will not wait longer than 3 seconds before abandoning a site because it was taking too long to load.
How to Monitor and Evaluate Your Website’s Load Time
There are several tools (free and paid) available that you can use to monitor and evaluate the overall load time of your website. Below we have outline the top three tools used by business owners and web developers.
Google PageSpeed Insights
Google PageSpeed Insights is a free tool is one of the most comprehensive tools you can use to get started. It lays out everything that could be causing your site to slow down and recommends steps you can take to improve your page load time.
Pingdom is a website monitoring tool is designed to provide you with insights and alerts about your website’s performance while identifying reasons for slow loading web pages. The tool also provides you with a summary of the test results, performance grades, insights, content size by type/domain/type, and response codes. There is an ongoing monthly cost for this tool depending on the plan you choose, however it does come with a free 30-day trial.
GTmetrix is another popular tool used to check how fast your website loads. This tool uses Google page speed and Yahoo! GTmetrix will grade your website’s performance and also provides charts and reports to analyses any opportunities for tweaking your website page speed time. With GTmetrix you can choose from free to paid plans depending on your requirements.
How to Improve Your Website Page Speed
Are you seeking to better improve your users experience with better website page speed? Below are some effective measures you can take to improve your website page speed.
For every redirect to a new page, you face additional HTTP request time.Tthis can be discouraging for users leading them to abandon your website.
Reduce the Time to First Byte (TTFB)
Firstly, you might ask ‘what is time to first byte (TTFB)’? TTFB is the duration browsers need to wait before receiving data from the server. In simple terms, it is the length of time it takes for a page to start loading.
Your website’s time to first byte comprises HTTP request time, process request time, and response time. By improving your TTFB, requests can be delivered to the browser at a faster rate which ultimately means faster loading of content for users.
The ideal time to first byte you should be aiming for is 200ms or less. You can reduce your time to first byte by reducing HTTP requests and enabling browser caching.
Consider Website Compression
This involves compressing HTTP data to a smaller size before it is sent to the server. Website compression will not only improve your page load speed but your bandwidth as well. There are several compression tools you can use, such as; PeaZip, 7-Zip, WinRAR, Zip Archiver, and Gzip. Some studies have shown that up to a 70% reduction in response sizes can be achieved with Gzip compression.
Install a CDN
A content delivery network (CDN) is a distributed network and storage service that can be used to host your website’s content in place of your servers. It basically reduces the traffic load of your server by caching your website on networks of global servers. This way, when a user makes a request from your website, it gets routed to the server nearest to the user’s physical location. This reduction in your website’s traffic load can help increase its page load time.
Another added advantage of adding a CDN to your website is that it can function as a proxy between you and the users via services like automatic HTTPS, load balancing, firewalls, and redundancy (in situations where your origin servers are offline).
Depending on the type of content management systems (CMS) you are using, you will need to periodically clear your database of unnecessary data like trashed posts & pages, unapproved & spam comments, and post drafts/revisions. This will make your database smaller and enable web hosting servers to fetch requested content at a faster rate, ultimately improving your website load time.
Page load speed is a very crucial criterion for a website’s success, and every second counts. While the ideal recommendation for a website’s page load speed is between 0.5-3 seconds, certain factors can affect this speed and cause your website’s load time to slow down. Therefore, it is important to monitor and analyze your website’s page load time and fix those issues that are slowing down its loading speed. Make your website load time as fast as possible. However, ensure that you don’t compromise on user experience while doing it.
Need help with improving your website page speed? Get in touch with Boast Digital for a free page speed consultation. We can optimise your website to decrease page load time and increase user engagement! Engage our web speed optimising service for local Australian clients only.