12 July 2022

Site speed: the key to SEO, user experience and conversion

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Site speed: the key to SEO, user experience and conversion
Mark LillicrappWritten ByMark Lillicrapp

As Propeller's Technical Director, Mark is responsible for developing digital policy and strategy, implementing infrastructure and leveraging technology to help Propeller and its amazing clients achieve their goals.

We need to talk about speed.

No, not the 1994 Keanu Reeves action thriller (although we could talk about Keanu Reeves if you wanted!).

We’re talking about site speed – i.e. the time it takes for your site to load.

But before we get into the technical details (which as a digital marketing agency, we LOVE!), let’s talk about why site speed is so important.

Why does speed matter?

HIGHER SEARCH RANKING

The quicker your website loads, the more Google will like it. The more Google likes it, the easier it is for customers to discover your site.

What’s the “science”?

In July 2021, Google released an algorithm update called the “Core Web Vitals Update”. Core Web Vitals are user-centric metrics that help users perceive a page as fast.

These Core Web Vitals measure three things:

  • Loading: The time it takes to load the main content of the page (beautifully termed Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)). The goal is 2.5 seconds.
  • Interactivity: The time from when a user first interacts with a page to when the browser can process a response to that interaction (First Input Delay (FID)). The goal is 100 milliseconds or less.
  • Visual stability: How often users experience unexpected layout shifts (Cumulative Layout Shifts (CLS)).

Overwhelmed by odd terminology? In a nutshell, the faster your site speed, the easier it will be for users to find your website.

BETTER USER EXPERIENCE

First impressions count. That’s pure psychology. We consider fast websites to be professional and reliable. In the modern consumer’s mind, speed = efficiency, trust and confidence.

According to Kissmetrics, 47% of people expect a site to load in less than 2 seconds. And 40% of people will abandon a website entirely if it takes more than 3 seconds.

And it’s even more important on mobile, with 85% of internet users expecting a mobile site to load as fast or faster than on their desktop.

So there really isn’t a lot of room for manoeuvre!

BIGGER CONVERSION RATES

Here’s where the numbers get really juicy. Because site speed is key for your growth marketing strategy.

Skilled found that 79% of customers are less likely to repurchase from an online store if they were “dissatisfied” with the site’s speed.

And according to Google, a one second site speed improvement can increase mobile conversions by up to 27%!

Let’s put this into perspective. Retail giant Amazon did tests that showed they would lose $1.6 BILLION every single year if their site speed slowed down by just one second. Yes, you read that right. One point six BILLION dollars!

Let’s speed things up

Okay, so your site needs to be fast. But how do we make it happen?

1. AUDIT

First, get an understanding of your site’s current speed.

Carry out technical website performance tests to determine how your site is currently performing. These audits look at performance across both mobile and desktop and will output a set of suggestions on how specific pages, or the site as a whole could be improved.

Google has their own insight tool which includes an overall rating, opportunities for improvement, diagnostics, and recommendations.

2. IMPLEMENT THE RECOMMENDATIONS FOUND IN YOUR AUDIT.

Some top headline tips and quick wins:

  • Get a good host: Choose a host that is best for your company’s needs. Also consider where your host’s servers are in the world compared to where your customers are.
  • Optimise your images: Compress their data size and convert to JPEG if they don’t need transparent pixels. Tiny PNG is a good tool to use here.
  • Implement caching: This is when a browser saves a version of your webpage so that when a visitor goes back to it, it doesn’t have to reload all over again.
  • Minify your code: When you rely on an off the shelf platform or software, your page may well be loading code that it doesn’t actually use. This is where a bespoke website design helps.
  • Select plugins and apps carefully: These things all increase load times. So don’t get over-excited with them. Use only the ones that add value to the user experience or conversion rates.
3. REPEAT

Don’t optimise your site once and be done with it. As your business grows and develops, so will your website. So check in with your site speed insights routinely and make continuous improvements.

That way, your site will always be optimised for conversion, loyalty, and Google Search rankings.

4. USE THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY

There are cutting edge technologies that can significantly reduce the loading time of your website. At Propeller, we are pioneering the use of Headless CMS. With a dedicated front-end site, user experiences can be made faster and more performant.

In Summary

Site speed matters. It’s great for search rankings. It’s great for user experience. And it’s great for conversion rates.

And the great news? Our team can help. With our SEO services, we can assess your site’s current performance, develop a bespoke digital strategy, and implement the changes effectively with bespoke website design and development.

Want to find out more? Get in touch.

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