Creating an enjoyable user experience for visitors, requires you to have a site that can deliver relevant content to them in record time. Slow websites are the antithesis of enjoyment. They cause frustration. And what are your visitors going to do if they become frustrated with your site? They’re going to look elsewhere (read: your competitor’s site).
Getting back to the previous point about user experience, slow websites that cause people to abandon your site are naturally going to affect your conversion rates. While this is bad news for any site, it can be downright disastrous for those who operate an eCommerce site. Slow performing sites are going to result in the loss of countless sales.
As if the threat of lost customers and sales from a slow website wasn’t enough, page loading times are also a Google rankings factor. Page speed was confirmed as a rankings factor for desktop all the way back in 2010, and for mobile devices in 2018. In June of 2021, Google released another algorithm update which incorporated what are known as the Core Web Vitals signals. These signals contain a series of metrics that Google uses to identify if pages provide a satisfactory user experience.
You can view how your site’s Core Web Vitals are performing, by opening your site in Search Console and visiting Experience > Core Web Vitals. In cases where a ‘not enough data in the last 90 days or this device type’ message is displayed, you can view your page performance by using Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
Having search engines crawl your site is how they discover the content that exists on your site, learn about recent changes that you’ve made to your pages and find out about brand new pages that have been added to your site. This crawling process is extremely important for all websites. If search engines can’t crawl your website efficiently, they won’t be able to index your pages or identify changes that you’ve made. All of this has a negative effect on the ability of your pages to rank.
There are number of things that can impact the ability of search engines to crawl your website, including – you guessed it, site speed. If your site is slow to respond to requests from search engine bots, search engines may deliberately reduce the number of times they visit your site or decrease what is known as your crawl budget. Now, this isn’t their way of punishing your site for being slow, rather, they’re doing what they believe is in the best interests of the website.
Search engine crawlers place additional strain on a server’s resources, so if a search engine detects that a website’s server is already burdened, they’re going to limit the amount of activity on that site, until the performance of that site improves.
Many people spend hours of each day browsing the web and using various net-based apps. However, the majority of the sites that people interact with are big name companies whose services are hosted on lightning-fast servers. This creates an extremely high expectation for speed.
People who browse for products on Amazon, eBay and other major retailers will have become accustomed to having pages load near-instantly for them. If they visit your site and discover that pages are taking far longer to load than what they’re used to, do you think they’re going to stop and think, “hey, this site is awfully slow, however, I understand that it’s only a small business website and therefore I can’t expect it to be anywhere near as fast as Nike or Apple’s site”. No! They’ll be more likely to say, “this website is garbage. I’m outta here.”
Word of mouth is extremely important for business growth, particularly startups. If your slow website creates a miserable experience for customers, they’re going to be far less inclined to refer your business to friends and family.