At first glance, you might not place much importance on good average page load time. Sure, the majority of your business is done through your website. You suspect your website operates as it should, though. Then again, maybe you’ve never stopped to analyze the web page load time of your site. If not, put yourself in the shoes of a prospective customer. Now, think of a time when you experienced a slow website.
You did a web search for a product or service you were after. You found what appeared to be a quality website on the search results page. The URL was legitimate and showed relevance to your search. You clicked the link and waited. And waited…And waited…Still, you waited. Hmm.
The landing page finally popped up, just as you were about to give up on the site altogether.
Maybe the website turned out to be incredible – great content, cheap prices, thoughtful interface design, etc. But the site experience was horrible. Clearly, the site was suffering from some sort of issue. Perhaps it was hosted on an old server, site optimization wasn’t considered, or the software codes were poorly written. Regardless of the cause, the site did not perform as it should’ve.
Imagine all the people who, like you, clicked the link. Instead of waiting for the site to load, they gave up after only a few seconds. This is just one example of why it’s important to have a website that is well-designed and performs well. The good news is, there’s a wealth of information available on how to optimize sites – for both the user and the search engine.
So, what’s a good average page load time?
Average Loading Time
If you had to guess, what do you think a good average page load time is? Five Seconds? Eight? Ten seconds? Depending on where you look, you may end up with a different answer. You should also stop to consider whether the majority of your sales are coming from desktop users or those who prefer a mobile experience. Good average page load times will drastically differ between desktop and mobile – the average web page takes 87.84% longer to load on mobile vs. desktop.
To make matters simple, we’ll focus on desktop sites for now. As it turns out, the general consensus is that page load time between zero and four seconds is best for conversions. Higher-performing sites, which are generally ranked at the top of search results pages, have page load time of less than two seconds. Meanwhile, the average page load time is 3.21 seconds (desktop). Hint: your site needs to perform better than the average.
Some might say, “well, if great sites have one-second page load times and my site has three-second page load time, that’s close enough, right?” Wrong.
Perhaps you’ve heard of bounce rate. A study by Google discovered that bounce increased by 32% when a page load time went from one to three seconds, and by 90% when the page load time went from one to five seconds.
Yes, as it turns out, human beings are very impatient. And why shouldn’t we be? If top-performing sites deliver results in one second (or less), then that’s the standard we grow used to. If other sites perform at a slower rate, we’ll take notice. In many cases, we’ll take our business to another site.
So, what happens if your site isn’t up to par? Do you count your losses and make peace with the fact you’re losing potential sales over your sluggish website? Of course not. Once you’ve diagnosed an issue with your site, you can take action.
Above all else, you need to have empathy for your user when you’re designing (or redesigning) your website. Another thing to consider: search engine algorithms will rank your site, for better or for worse, depending on overall site speed and whether it has a good average page load time.
How to Improve Site Speed (and Page Load)
There are numerous ways to improve the performance of your website. In most cases, you’ll want to work with trained optimization specialists like the experts at SEO Design Chicago to help make your site load faster.
Optimize Your Code
Remove unnecessary characters like commas and spaces. Also, remove code formats, comments, or unused codes.
If your page redirects to another page, this will add additional load time for the user
Browsers parse through the HTML of your site in order to render the page. If the browser encounters a script during this process, it will stop to first execute the script. This will add time to page load.
Leverage Browser Caching
Improve Server Response Time
Look for areas where your site gets bogged down like with slow database queries, slow routing, or a lack of adequate memory and fix them. The optimal server response time is under 200ms.
Use a Content Distribution Network
CDNs are offsite servers that can hold the large bulk of your site content. These servers will then distribute the content to your site without affecting the speed of your site.
Ensure the images on your site are appropriately sized. For images with minimal color, use a PNG format. Photographs should always be JPEG. Doing this should make your site load faster.
Loading Page Design
Not only does loading page design affect conversions and the likelihood of having return customers, search engines are built algorithmically to scan and rank sites for a number of factors. Site speed and good average page load time are key factors in this process.
In some sense, companies will live and die by their digital strategy. If their website design is poor, even though their products are second-to-none, they most certainly won’t profit in the digital landscape. They might not even be detected by any significant number of customers, as their site will rank low on search engine results pages.
It’s also important to note: if you decide to use a dynamic landing page for your site, you’ll want to make sure it’s built with optimization in mind.
And I’m sure you’re wondering by now. How and why does Google rank sites?
Google Site Speed
What’s Google’s philosophy when it comes to Google site speed? To sum up the approach, Google developer Matt Splitt explained: “You don’t want to frustrate your users, and we as a search engine don’t want to have users frustrated. So for us, it makes sense to consider fast websites as a little more helpful to users than very slow websites.”
If this is the case, there are ultimately two things you should focus on when developing a site. Is this site optimized for Google’s search engine? More importantly, is this site built well for the user?
If you’re curious to know how your site performs (on both desktop and mobile) based on Google Standards, you can use the Google PageSpeed Insights tool.
The PageSpeed Insights (PSI) tool will scan your site – both desktop and mobile – to determine how it will perform with the Google search engine. Not only that, but you will get feedback on how you can improve your site performance.
Once the PSI scan is completed, you will receive two sets of data. The resultant lab data can be used for debugging. PSI field data will give you insight into the user experience (UX) of your site.
Real-User Experience Data
Yes, the PSI tool can actually track real-world data from your users. It will even analyze your site layout to determine whether proper user interface (UI) design principles were met, and also if accessibility issues are present. The PSI tool will categorize your real-user experience data results into one of three categories: ‘good’, ‘needs improvement’, or ‘poor’.
The PSI tool also does a full audit of your site simply from scanning your website URL. The audit will give you a variety of insight ranging from speed index to total blocking time. These metrics will be color-coded, with green being ‘good’, amber being ‘needs improvement’, and a red triangle for ‘poor’.
Site Performance Equals Success
The digital marketing environment provides easy access to the global marketplace. With billions of potential customers online, you’d think it would be easy to turn a tremendous profit with even just a minimal amount of marketing.
As it turns out, there’s so much more to online marketing than just having quality products or services. Having a well-designed website with a good average page load time is crucial. Not only that, but you must always place the utmost importance on user experience (UX).
Otherwise, lackluster page load times or poorly designed websites will send you to the bottom of search engine rankings. And chances are, any traffic you get to your site won’t result in a conversion. Fortunately, there are tips you can use to build user-centered sites.
It’s a lot of hard work, but learning to leverage optimization tools in your favor can dramatically increase the visibility of your brand. And it starts with having a site with good page load time.
- What is a good average page load time?
- Why is site speed important to Google?
- How can you improve your average page load time?
- Does it take longer for desktop sites to load?
- Why is slow loading time bad?