How Fast Should Your Website Load Time Be?
Speed is essential to survive this competitive online world, but speed is equally important for SEO and other marketing techniques.
How quickly should your website load?
The answer is as quick as possible. A load time of more than 3 seconds affects your site’s ranking in SERP and the conversion rate.
Website users won’t return to a site that loads slowly as no one likes the waiting game. Speed is an important ranking factor for search engines.
Websites that optimise for speed have a higher chance of ranking as Google prefers faster sites.
SEO experts know the importance of speed, so they use plugins and tools to optimise their site’s speed. If your site loads on average 2 seconds, it is best for your website.
Since most people today use mobile for online shopping, website speed plays a relevant part.
On average, more than 53% of people abandon a website if it takes longer to load, and a two-second delay can result in an 87% of abandonment rate. That’s right!
What is the Page Load Time?
A page load time refers to the duration in which the content loads on the website.
A website speed is a fluid concept for two main reasons – web pages don’t load at once, they may take time to load depending on the content.
Also, website speed varies from page to page, and the page attributes are different.
Suppose you visit a website, and it loads in two seconds, but the images take longer to load.
Website speed also depends on the internet speed, so it is not the same for most users. For some, the time is less and for others more.
Here, detailed monitoring of web pages and speed can help you optimise your website perfectly.
Why is Page Load Time Important for SEO?
Page load time is a ranking factor, so it is an essential metric for most SEO experts.
If your website loads in 5 seconds, it is faster than 25% of sites on the internet. A site that loads in 2.9 seconds is faster than 50% of the websites in the webspace. A site that loads in 0.8 seconds is faster than 90% of the websites on the web.
A point-second delay can affect the traffic of a website. A three-second delay results in website traffic dropping to 7.9%.
Most visitors read less when a delay occurs. Visitors may also delay interactions, which will affect your page ranking and revenue.
Evaluate Your Loading Time
You can use many tools to evaluate your loading time. Google PageSpeed Insight is the most popular tool to evaluate loading time.
This tool list downs all the possible reasons that could be slowing down your website. The loading time for mobile and desktop is different.
The average a webpage takes is 87% longer than mobile. As mobile devices have slow processors, so the rules differ.
When you evaluate the speed of your website, you can identify all the issues that are causing a slow loading time and work on rectifying them to make your mobile site load faster.
How is Page Load Time Measured?
Website speed is mainly divided into two main categories – First Contentful Paint and DOMContent Loaded.
The First Contentful Paint is when it takes to see the first piece of content on the web page you are visiting. The website loads each page individually and not all at once.
At times, the top of the web page loads in seconds, but the bottom half keeps loading and takes time.
You may have visited a website where some parts may appear first and the second part may appear after some time. If you have experienced this, you know about the First contentful paint.
The DOMContent loaded is when the various parts of the content don’t load at once. DCL is when it takes for content to load from the top of the page to the bottom of the page.
It includes all the things that come in first contentful paint and the things that come after.
The average page speed differs from website to industry.
According to site measurement tools, a finance website loads in 5.9 seconds and automotive in 6.3 seconds. A consumer-goods website loads in 6.6 seconds and healthcare in 5.4 seconds. Retail in 6.3 seconds and media in 5.5 seconds and travel in six seconds, and technology in 6.7 seconds. It also depends on the average speed index of the website.
How to Speed up Your Website Load Time
1 – Optimise Images
It is important to optimise images to decrease the download times.
Optimisation of images on your website will help you keep Jpegs for photographs and Gifs for larger blocks of flat colour.
There are many tools to help you optimise images. You can use the Lazy Load plugin that ensures onscreen images load properly. It prevents every image of your website from loading at once.
With the proper optimisation plugins, you will be able to improve the loading speed and ranking. It ensures that you don’t sacrifice quality over quantity.
2 – Load Background Images via CSS
The images are a part of the background, which is linked to the external CSS style sheet. Browsers download the background images.
If you use this technique, the text on the web page will load faster, and the site users will be able to navigate freely on the web page.
It ensures that your site loads at a faster speed than other websites. You will need to add a link to the head section between <head> and the </head>.
The code link style sheet may vary according to the site. You can ask for help if you are not sure about the technical part.
3 – Use a Content Delivery Network
When it comes to site speed, the hosting server location matters.
A content delivery network is a set of web servers distributed across locations. The network provides the content to web users depending on the location.
When you host your site on a single server, the users are sent to the exact location and the time needed to process the requests increases.
The load time increases when users are far from the server but reduces when they are near the server.
When you use a content delivery system, the users are redirected to the nearest server. As a result, the website loads faster, and the content gets delivered to the user in no time.
4 – Reduce the Plugins on the site
Plugins are popular components on most of the websites on the internet. But they add third-party features and make your site load slowly.
The more plugins you have on your website, the more resources they consume on your website.
As time grows, you may not require some of the plugins for many reasons.
Run a performance test on your website and look for plugins that you don’t use. Try avoiding plugins that load many scripts and styles as they may affect the website speed.
The best way is to keep the ones you need for the site and uninstall the ones you don’t.
5 – Clean up your database
Over time your website’s database can become bloated with unnecessary media files, saved drafts, deactivated plugins/themes, among others. This can affect the load time significantly.
To rectify this, you need to clean up your database periodically. If you use WordPress, you can use the WP Optimize plugin to clear out unnecessary data (trashed, unapproved/spam comments, pingbacks, trackbacks), tables, and retrieve space lost due to data fragmentation.
You can set the plugin to clean up the database weekly automatically. It also allows you to automate pre-optimise backup via UpdraftPlus.
This will help to optimise your database, thereby speeding up the load time.
6 – Use Website Caching
If many users access the web page at once, it will affect the website loading time. Your site may take a longer time to deliver access to every user.
You can use a website caching feature to store the current version of the site on hosting and preserve the version until your website updates.
It means that your web page won’t render again and again for each user. In short, it won’t need to send the database requests each time a user visits your website.
For WordPress, you can use the WP total cache plugin for website caching.
7 – Minimise HTTP requests
Different parts of the page are loaded at the time of downloading, including scripts, images, style sheets, among others.
To download each element, an HTTP request is made, which increases the rendering time. To speed up the load time, you need to minimise the HTTP requests.
You can check how many HTTP requests your site makes using the browser’s Developer Tools in Google Chrome. Just open the page you want to analyse and right-click on it. Select ‘Inspect’ → ‘Network.’
In the Network tab, you’ll see the name column (what files are rendered on the page), the time column (shows how long it takes to load each file), and the size column (shows the size of each file).
The bottom-left corner displays the total requests the site makes. Reducing these requests will help speed up your website.
This will ensure that there are fewer elements on a page, which will result in fewer HTTP requests leading to faster rendering of web pages.
The user’s web browser treats the requests individually, which can slow down the speed of your website.
You can also minify the HTML of your website with the tool.
9 – Reduce Redirects
To eliminate the issue of broken links, redirects are necessary when you delete or move web pages.
However, too many redirects can create more HTTP requests, affecting your site’s speed, especially mobile devices.
To reduce redirects, you need first to identify them, which you can do easily with the help of the Screaming Frog tool.
Just run a site scan and sort by ‘status code’ to see all the 301 redirects that are currently on your website.
Check each redirect to see if they are necessary. If you see unnecessary redirect chains that point to other redirected pages, you need to edit your .htaccess file.
This will ensure that all redirect pages are directed to the most recent versions of that page, which will help you fix the slow load time issue.
Your page speed must load as fast as you can make it load. That said, you should not compromise on the user experience and quality.
There are many factors to make it successful when it comes to speed – web hosting provider, browser, content, and device.
The way you optimise your website for speed by using different metrics plays the most vital part.
You can measure your website loading time with tools to identify and rectify problems.
One of the free tools to monitor your site’s load time is Pingdom’s Website Speed Test. This tool provides you with a summary of your page’s load time and performance.
To monitor your site’s load time on mobile devices, you can use Google’s Test My Site tool.
You need to measure the speed of your website every month so that you can identify and fix any issue post-haste.
Serve your customers with the best page load time, i.e. 1 to 2 seconds, to see improvement in ranking and traffic.