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How Fast is Fast Enough? Page Load Time & Your Bottom Line

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How Fast is Fast Enough? Page Load Time & Your Bottom Line

Cami Bird
How Fast is Fast Enough? Page Load Time & Your Bottom Line

Ever since Google’s Mobilegeddon, page load time has been a hot topic for website improvement, not simply because of the increased demand from mobile visitors but because of potential lead and customer losses. While page speed influences your search ranking and Facebook pushes Instant Articles, it’s obvious that websites need to pick up the pace, but how fast is fast enough?

What amount of page loading time will consumers accept and what will make them close the tab and find something else?

The Obvious Answer

Your website needs to be fast enough for your visitors. While that may not be the answer you’re looking for, it’s the one that your website visitors will appreciate. By monitoring your bounce rate (in Google Analytics or comparable metric trackers) and page load time (using the Chrome extension “Page Load Time” or more extensive trackers) you can continue to enhance your website and better serve your visitors.

The Easy Answer

While you know the obvious answer, it doesn’t provide you a goal to work towards. Before I get into the speeds you should be aiming for (and not) there’s something you should know: the numbers on page speed suck. Often, the same stats are posted time and time again and are dated while technology is anything but dated, it’s continually improving.

The standards many have been using for page load time come from a study conducted by Geoff Kenyon where he compares website speed against the rest of the web:

  • if your site loads in 5 seconds, it is faster than approximately 25% of the web

  • if your site loads in 2.9 seconds, it is faster than approximately 50% of the web

  • if your site loads in 1.7 seconds, it is faster than approximately 75% of the web

  • if your site loads in 0.8 seconds, it is faster than approximately 94% of the web

Pingdom has also shared their findings from 2015 (using their own clients as the data source), where the average load time for web pages 3Mb was 5 seconds. While Google from 2010 would contend to say that is not nearly fast enough.

In a Google Webmaster video, Maile Ohye, states that “2 seconds is the threshold for e-commerce website acceptability. At Google, we aim for under a half second.” Half a second is fast, to put it in layman terms it’s close to a blink, while two seconds is shorter than one breath--and that pagespeed time is what they thought websites 6 years ago should be aiming for.

The most interesting and recent study I came across was from the Financial Times Technology Department in April, who looked at how page speed affected their developing publishing site. The study they performed involved their specific goals for a publishing site and had a test group and a control, the test group would have a 5-second delay added to each page load time. The notable facts they found were :

  • The first-second delay resulted in a 4.9% drop in the number of articles a visitor read

  • The three-second delay resulted in a 7.9% drop

  • Visitors read less when delays occurred

I highly recommend reading the whole article, it brings up a point that we already know: visitors do less on sites when page load times delay their interactions with the website, making it less desirable.

What Your Page Speed Should Be

Summing it all up your website page speed needs to be as fast as you can make it... without compromising the customer experience. For Google, they aim for the speed of a blink, your website may look for something more like a breath.

When it comes to page speed, there are many factors to your success: the browser, device, web hosting provider and content on the page, which is why you need to focus on your visitor’s needs.

For example, if you strip down your site to improve mobile speeds but 90% of visitors come from desktop, you’re not serving your main visitors, but the 10% of mobile ones. What aspect of your website did you take away that may have an influence on how your desktop visitors interact with it?

TLDR Answer: Serve your customers with the page load time they need, a good goal being 2 seconds.

Are you looking to improve your website page speed or gradual refine it for your audience? Let me know in the comments below!

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Cami Bird

An experienced member who is always happy to help.

Cami Bird is an expert in social media engagement and content marketing who loves to explore the developing digital marketing field. When she's not working remotely, you can usually find her obsessing over corgis or going on a local hike.
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Beau Buckley

Either just recently joined or is too shy to say something.

Defiantly some great information about site speed. It's quite interesting that 75% of the websites on the internet take at least 1.8 seconds or greater to load. If Google penalized all those sites it would disrupt everything.

In my personal opinion, I believe Google has a threshold in regards to speed before penalizing a given website. If you're loading in the range of 3-5 seconds i don't believe you will be penalized. The internet is only going to get bigger and this means more website will be hosted on servers like Godaddy, and more and more resources will be exhausted. You can only do so much optimization. Not everyone can afford dedicated servers and run CDN also. Majority of websites are hosted on shared servers.

You will also find that if you have a solid internet connection - fiber optics, 5g for example. You will find a website that loads 5-6 seconds based on a speed tool metrics loads within 1-2 seconds due to that person having a solid internet service.

Beau Buckley
Revolucion One
Nick Samuel

Asks great questions and provides brilliant answers.

Beau Buckley
Remember that those stats are 3 years old....Google has pushed "pagespeed" quite heavily over the last few years whether that's improving their tools e.g Lighthouse or baking speed into the algorithm... I'd be very surprised if there hasn't been improvements across the board!

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GTmetrix, Webpage test.org, Page speed insight and Pingdom are the best tool to measure Website speed. Speed optimization of a website helps to rank high in search engine. Check for on load time in gtmetrix to know the exact time taken by the page to load. Feel free to view this information on how to improve page speed of a website
Reseau Solutions SL INC

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It's going to be a crucial for website's owner to have terribly good page loading speed. Through gzip and cache enabling we can get rid of it. Also, image resizing, image compression and minification are important to achieve our almost goals.
David Finch

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As both a Webhosting company and a WordPress support company we aim for the under 2 second load time from our servers without caching plugins. Then when a client adds the caching software they should improve that by about another 1/2 second. I have only come across one website that we built for a church which is all text with no images that could load in under 1/2 second. Our own WP Support Services site loads in 1.27 seconds and our Webhosting account loads in 1.33 seconds. However we have spent a lot of time and research and coding to create a server environment designed to get the best out of a WordPress CMS Website.

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This is an interesting read about hosting and speed. The importance of speed is ever more apparent but the ROI is always a sticky point and measuring the bottom line 'conversions' whilst considering the fast hosting investment is tricky. With so many case studies that sound like good reasons to spend more on hosting the real investment should be on how to build a server specific to the website that in turn performs well. Google 'fast hosting increases sales' One of the results provides a case study for a business 'A UKFast dedicated hosting solution has helped Kitchen Appliance Centre to achieve their goals by reducing page load speeds and maintaining uptime, contributing to a record year where revenue rose by over 50%.' bold claim! More so because the business 4 years on has ceased to trade! I wrote this short article to provide a little thought on hosting http://www.amcoms.co.uk/Which-Web-Hosting-Why.html
Akash Srivastava

An experienced member who is always happy to help.

Yes Cami, 2 seconds aim is a good idea. I agree.

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