Why speed optimization matters

Written by Peter Vejrum Terp on . Posted in Peters Blog

An old saying says that “Time is money”, that is also the case on webpages. Walmart showed recently that this claim also fits on Web pages. The company had set out to test their website’s response time impact on their business. The result was surprising 0.1 seconds better response time resulted in up to 1% increase in turnover.If the response time is slower than 2 seconds, the conversion rate drops.

This test was made on a large Web page in the US, but it also fit other countries. Many pages doesn’t consider the page load speed as an large issue, example in Denmark where I live, it’s not something that many talk about. BUT! that doesn’t mean that it’s not an issue, that’s just the danes who hasn’t considered Speed as an issue yet. In US speed is big and large companies like Amazon and Google uses a lot of time on optimizing speed.

Why so much focus on speed?
Does it matter, can’t I just optimize my page for Google and create a good looking design. NO! Is the short answer, SEO and design is important, speed is equally important.

If you do the right thing from the beginning, many benefits will show up:

  • Your servers will need less capacity, and thereby save money for servers, and it will be cheaper to expand your server park.
  • The bandwidth your servers uses to connect to the world, will be less used, there by you probably will pay less for for the connection.
  • It will be easier to scale the servers for traffic peaks
  • When your page loads faster, people will be more likely to use your page instead of the slower competitor.
  • Google is actually looking on page speed when they rank the websites, therefore also a SEO benefit.
  • If your users uses a mobile device, you can’t be sure that they always has a good broadband connection, they will have a better user experience because the page loads a lot faster.

Why should i consider speed now?
If you example live in Denmark, the tendens is that many pages become slower. This is not the case in all countries, but it might be a case in your country. If this is the case then you might get some benefits by being a first mover. If your competitors website loads in 12sec, and your own homepage loads in 2 secs after optimising it, then I’m pretty sure that the customer will choose your website the next time. If your living in a country where speed is already known as a big issue, you really needs to start  fixing the website speed, otherwise the competitors will take your customers.

What to do about it?
What you need to do is make a plan, and set some goals for the website speed. Here is an example on things you should do:

  • Run a speed test on your own website and top 5 competitors website. This could be done with tools like  http://gtmetrix.com/
  • Set up a spreadsheet which contains information  for your website and competitors. This should contain “Time taken for loading website”, “Amount of requests”, “Page size in kilobytes”.
  • Take a look on the spread sheet, how good are your website compared to the competitors? If you have a bad page speed, take a look on the best competitors and look on the page size and the amount of requests. Do they do it better than you? If so, that might be a good place to start looking for optimization.
  • Set at goal on how fast the page should load, how many requests used, size of website.
  • Fix problems, like too many requests, too large images and so on.
  • After fixing those problems, you might also need to look at the database queries. There will probably be a lot to fix here, there usually is.
  • When database and the other stuff is fixed, then take a look at the server side coding. Is everything optimized.
  • Is there anything you can remove from the homepage, which doesn’t give you anything?
  • Last a very important thing is, you need to measure and track what you do. Make a stat which shows conversion, revenue and so on before fixing the issues, and make the same each time you make some improvements on the live environment.

I hope this post will inspire you to speed up your website.

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Peter Vejrum Terp

My name is Peter Vejrum Terp, I am a travel geek, and tech hippie . I've been working as a professional Internet programmer, project manager and more since 2000. At the moment I work with SEO, and I've been doing it full time the last couple of years. I am cofounder of www.backpackerplanet.dk and www.backpackers-online.dk

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