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The Real Value of Page Speed

If there’s one thing most web users need, it’s speed. Patience might well be a virtue, but that quality is in pretty short supply when people are shopping online. In fact, studies have shown the average person will abandon your site if it takes more than three seconds for a page to load.

Thus, when it comes to the real value of page speed, holding on to your shoppers ranks highly. However, that’s not the only consideration.

Page Speed vs. Site Speed

Site speed and page speed are often conflated. While they are similar, the terms refer to two very different aspects of your site’s behavior. Page speed can be described an either “page load time” (the time it takes to fully display the content of a specific page) or “time to first byte” (how long it takes your browser to receive the first byte of information from the web server).

Ultimately though, page speed is a measurement of how fast the content any given page on your site loads. To see how your site measures up, you can check it using Page Speed Insights.

Site speed is the average of a sample of load times of a few pages on your site. While the resulting figure might or might not leave you feeling good about your web presence, it’s not an accurate measure of your site’s true performance.

Yes, it is important for your site to load quickly too, but it’s even more important for your individual pages to do so.

Page Speed and Bounce Rate

There has been found to be a direct correlation between page speeds and bounce rates across a wide variety of sites in general. In other words, ecommerce sites are not alone in this. However, when it comes to ecommerce this will mean lost sales. Further, once a user decides a site is “slow” they avoid returning to it.

You’ve heard you only get one chance to make a first impression? Once people decide your site is slow, that’s pretty much all she wrote for your store as far as those people are concerned. They’ll bounce and they usually never return.

Page Speed and Search Engines

Google’s algorithm started taking page speed into consideration back in 2010. Sites that loaded quickly were rewarded with higher rankings. Remember, Google’s thing is to get the best information in front of its users as quickly as possible.

Knowing people have a tendency to lack patience, the search giant’s engineering team tweaked its web crawlers to find sites with both the most relevant information—and the fastest load times.

In other words, eliminating slow is also good for your SEO, whether you’re running ebooks online stores using a platform like Shopify, a Kim Kardashian fan page or a blog about the mating habits of the Ribbon-tailed Astrapia.

Page Speed and Mobile

Mobile users were once more patient than desktop users when it came to loading times. However, along with the accelerated proliferation of mobile devices have come higher performance expectations.

With this in mind, the Google Developers site made the following pronouncement in July of 2018.

“Data shows people really care how quickly pages load. More than half of visits are abandoned if a mobile page takes over three seconds to load. As of this month (July 2018), page speed will become a ranking factor for mobile searches”.

Given mobile has overtaken desktop in terms of product research and is rapidly gaining ground in purchases as well, you’ll need to ensure your mobile site is also fast if you want to be competitive.

So, what can you do about all of this?

Google Developers recommends using Lighthouse, an open source automated lab tool to measure your website’s performance, accessibility, Progressive Web App, and SEO. The tool also suggests actions you can take to improve each of those factors.

Once you know where the problems lie, they’ll be easier to correct.  And, now that you have a better understanding of the real value of page speed, you can see why this matters.

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