A page that takes an eternity to load is going to leave a sour taste in the mouths of users. Even if they don’t ultimately abandon the page, there is potential that poor website performance can lead to a diminished brand perception, fewer future page visits and a reluctance to carry out transactions.
Google has included page speed as one of its ranking signals since 2010 and a separate ranking signal for performance on mobile that was introduced in 2013. Google have continued to place greater and greater emphasis on mobile page performance and have announced plans for a mobile-first index that will use the mobile version of your site as the primary search engine index. This could potentially lead to problems if your business’s mobile site is just a stripped-down version of your desktop site without much attention paid to layout and design.
So how can you quickly improve your site to avoid any performance penalties? There are plenty free services on offer that can give you a reasonable indication of your site’s current performance, including GTMetrix.com, http://yslow.org/ and https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/. Once you’ve determined if your page speed needs improving, there a number of avenues to explore. Perhaps the easiest option is to compress all of your site’s text and image content, which can provide a larger-than-expected boost to page speed. If this solution does not quite provide the necessary performance you could change your hosting provide or even employ a content delivery network.
Whatever you end up doing, it is important that performance improvements are applied throughout your site, as inconsistent page speeds can lead to brand distrust. It’s all well and good wowing your visitors with a lightning-quick home page but if an e-commerce page doesn’t represent the same attention to user experience, potential customers have a right to be wary.
Join us next month as we continue the Web Optimisation blog series where we take a look at utilising social platforms as cost-effective engagement tools. In the meantime, follow us on Twitter @CantarusLTD for more digital presence tips.