Why Speed is the Website Metric You Can’t Afford to Skimp On

The problem with choosing the best WordPress host for your site often comes down to confusion. There are a lot of choices―and opinions about how to host a WordPress site, and it can be hard to separate the truth from a clever sales pitch. When it comes to the major players, let’s take a look at how they compare.

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by | Jun 24, 2021 | Category 2 test | 0 comments

Why Speed is the Website Metric You Can’t Afford to Skimp On

Every blogging guru, web designer, hosting service, and self-proclaimed tech whiz will tell you that speed is everything when it comes to your website. And it is true—speed can make or break your website. But let’s take a deeper dive into who cares about speed and why it is so important.

Google owns the lion’s share of the internet. They control what users see when they search for content on the web, and that basically allows them to make the rules for how websites behave. And Google has spoken, citing their internal studies, that speedy websites equal happy customers. So their algorithms, almost obsessively, favor fast websites.

So, there it is… the bottom line is that your website directly improves your search result ranking, making it easier (for faster websites) and more challenging (for slower websites) to get found through organic search. And the other side of that coin is that fast speeds improve the user experience, giving your search engine ranking and brand image another useful boost.

Optimizing for Google Core Web Vitals

Now that we have established that Google sets the precedents for website speed and other design elements, let’s talk about how website owners can get reliable information and use it to optimize the performance of their sites. Web vitals is a Google initiative to provide guidance on creating user-friendly websites.

Google has an abundance of tools for developers and website owners. And technical familiarity plays a big role in how useful each of their tools is for optimizing websites. Some developers with expert-level experience with their tools find them invaluable, while newer tech-challenged website owners learning as they go find them to be more trouble than they are worth.

Google Web Vitals aims to bridge the gap, so that website owners don’t have to be tech-savvy experts to understand how to create good user experiences. In short, web vitals applies to all web pages and provides useful information for all website owners.

Core Metrics

Google’s core web vitals will continue to evolve as the pace of technology, and user demands shape the future of the internet. As of 2020, these metrics focus on loading speeds, interactivity, and visual stability.

Loading speeds refer to how long it takes a website to load once a user clicks on the link or submits a query for a direct web URL. Google says that your website should load within 2.5 seconds. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for error, but after that window, your bounce rate goes up dramatically as users give up and go elsewhere.

Interactivity measures how quickly features within the website respond to user’s inputs. This could be internal links, embedded media, or menu navigation. Officially, this measurement is called First Input Delay (FID) and is measured in milliseconds. If you thought users were impatient with loading speeds, you can expect them to be even less lenient with interactivity. Google says that your website should have an FID score of 100 milliseconds or less.

The third metric, visual stability, refers to the spatial positioning of text and images on your web pages. Have you browsed an unstable page where links seem to jump just as you try to click on them or without warning, lines shift? Obviously, this is frustrating and makes for a pretty poor user experience. Google expects that websites maintain a CSL score of 0.1 or less.

Making the Case for Optimizing Speed

Equipped with the information that Google looks at, website owners can begin to track performance and optimize their websites. But while some people are focusing on a hamster wheel o oversaturated keywords, and others are treading water trying to build enough links, the best place to put your focus is on speed.

Companies like Amazon, U-Pack, and Google’s internal studies have documented proof that potentially insignificant speed differences have a dramatic impact on sales (positive or negative). In one case, trimming down page dynamics for a modest boost in loading speeds led to a 15% increase in sales conversions.

Site Speed and Search Engine Ranking

Google is not shy about sharing the fact that speed is important and almost certainly has a direct impact on your page ranking. Faster loading times increase page rank and visibility, resulting in more traffic. But by the same token, they also claim that less than 1% of searches are affected by speed.

Let’s put that into perspective. There are around 3.5 billion searches performed every single day. One percent is still 35 million searches, so it is nothing to shy away from. In fact, some estimates say that one second can cost an e-commerce website 7% in lost sales revenue. For a site that generates $50,000 in sales every day, that is 1.2 million in lost revenue. Or, a site that generates $100 in revenue per day, that is $2,500 in lost sales.

Creating a Good User Experience

At least 47% of users expect a website to load in two seconds or less. That is probably why bounce rates rise dramatically at 2.5 seconds. When your pages load fast, and your website functions the way that impatient users expect, your website is rewarded with more traffic and increased conversions. And by extension, it also lowers the bounce rate. All of these metrics tell search engines that your site is reputable and deserves higher page rankings. So a good user experience is great for the end-users your website is designed for and even better for search engine algorithms.

What Causes Slow Speeds?

There are many things that can cause slow speeds, and it is likely that your problems are plagued by the cumulative effect of multiple causes. However, the most common cause and the first place you should check is your host. Rapid SEO Host never uses shared hosting. Our managed WordPress hosting only uses dedicated servers to offer you performance-boosting speeds to get the most out of your website. Learn more about our services today!

Host Speeds

Hands down, the most common (and affordable) hosting option used shared services. While it is a practical option for many startups and small-scale websites, shared hosting is notoriously slower than other options. And what’s more, is that some hosting providers are out to make a quick buck with low-end equipment that doesn’t offer speed as a selling point. If you are on one of those cut-throat hosting plans, it is time to switch. Saving $10 a month in hosting fees isn’t worth losing $100 in sales. Rapid SEO Host uses dedicated hosting to deliver a hassle-free managed WordPress experience. With these services, you can get all of the security and speed benefits of dedicated hosting with zero technical knowledge.

Other Backend Problems that Cause Slow Speeds

If you use a managed hosting solution, you can rely on your provider for help analyzing and addressing dozens of additional backend factors like:
  • Too Many (or Too Heavy) Plugins: Some plugins or widgets have a tendency to kill page speed. Identify and remove any plugins that are weighing your website down and find lighter alternatives.
  • Too Many Ads: Monetizing is fun once you start getting enough traffic to make money, but it requires a delicate balance. If the ads are hurting the user experience, they cost you money too.
  • Image Overload: High-resolution images are typically a good thing for user experience, but if they are slowing your load speed down, then it is time to rethink your strategy.
  • Incompatible Browsers: Make sure the tools on your website, like Flash players work well with major browsers like Google Chrome.
  • Clunky Themes: Your theme is the framework for your site. A good theme makes a great site, but a bad theme can cause your website to bleed traffic slowly.
  • Extraneous Code: As you add snippets code to track different metrics on your site, your speed is impacted. The same goes for forms code and affiliate programs code.
Hosts like Rapid SEO Host staff the tech geeks that know what works and what doesn’t. They can usually provide solid advice on what should stay and what needs to go.

Other SEO Housekeeping Tasks that Can Improve Page Speed

Your host has a lot of influence over your site speed. From hosting speeds to backend maintenance tasks, the first step is to make sure that they are doing everything they can to help your site run efficiently. After all of your I’s are dotted, and t’s are crossed, it is time to move the focus on developing good front-end habits that will improve site speed.
Here is what you can do:
  • Limit Redirects
  • Compress and Optimize Images
  • Always Include the Trailing Slash in URLs
  • Limit Extra Page Elements
  • Clean Up Your Code
Redirects, although sometimes necessary, should be avoided if possible. The more redirects a page goes through, the longer it takes to load. By the same token, making a choice whether or not to use a trailing slash on a page URL can have a similar effect because of how the directory recognizes the page. Your URLs should look like: www.yourwebsite.com/page/ not www.yourwebsite.com. Images are a terrific visual element. And nobody is arguing against using high-quality images. But large file sizes take a long time to load, so get into the habit of compressing and optimizing every image when it is uploaded to conserve space and protect speeds. As mentioned previously in the backend maintenance, some plugins slow your site down significantly. So be stingy about which page elements and plugins you use and make sure there is a justifiable reason to keep them. While you are practicing lean methods of site design, use the same principles in your HTML or CSS code, making sure to eliminate extra spaces or unneeded snippets.

The Best Tools to Check Your Speed

There are dozens of tools that you can use to run a quick speed test on your website. While they won’t tell you why your site is slowing down, knowing where you are at is half of the battle. In addition to using these tools to get a cursory measurement of your site speed, there are additional tests that can be performed. For example, when making changes to your website, make it a best practice to always run an A/B test to analyze the impact of the changes on site speed. Play around with ad placement on your pages—test different layouts for desktops, laptops, and mobile devices. Look at browser extensions, antivirus software, and any other input that may contribute to website speeds. Technology has come a long way in the last 20 years, and users are no longer understanding of bulky, slow, or choppy websites. If your pages take longer than the blink of an eye, it is hurting your business’s reputation. Although not having a digital presence in 2021 is damaging enough, having a poorly designed website can be even worse. It is up to you to put together a professional, polished digital presence for your business. This includes carefully selected page elements and testing every piece to make sure that it works. Although code changes may not be your fault as Google and other tech developers are constantly changing things, your visitors will always attribute a clunky site with your brand.

The Bottom Line

Rapid SEO Host is your solution for boosting site speeds using a robust managed WordPress hosting solution. Our services include a completely hands-off managed solution that makes it easy for anyone to get the most out of their WordPress site. Learn more today!