Page Load Time: The Silent Sales Killer
October 30, 2013
Who hasn't been frustrated when visiting a slow web site?
Having a faster site is a priority for most merchants, especially for businesses with large catalogs. Here are some important statistics on why a faster site is a crucial component for helping a merchant increase sales:
Page abandonment rates increase most steeply between one and four seconds
Mobile users expect pages to load just as quickly on their smartphone as they do on their desktop
Large internet merchants have performed studies showing that conversion rates can improve by as much as 10% for every second of speed improvement
Kiss Metrics, an analytics service provider that focuses on marketing, put together an infographic that summarizes the issues in a quick-read.
Page Load Time Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is an acceptable page load time?
A. That's a great question, and the answer is the faster the better. SEO experts often quote the two second rule (which has nothing to do with eating food you dropped on the floor), but, in reality, even a page that loads in a second can stand for improvement so a page that takes more than five seconds to load is most certainly going to have a material effect on your conversion rates.
Q.What causes a page to load slowly?
A. There are many causes to slow page load times including poor server configuration and images that are too large and have to be re-sized by a browser. What can you do about it? Keep reading.
Q. How do I determine how fast my pages load, and how can I compare my times to my competitors?
A. A non-tech person can use Google's Page Speed Analyzer to check the page speed rating assigned by Google. There are several advantages to using this tool:
It's Google's test and Google uses page speed, in part, to determine search rankings
You can easily see how you compare to competitors by looking up their pages
You can input any page on your site to see how it performs (though it doesn't always work well for checkout and cart because of coding that protects personal data from customers)
It produces a list of suggestions for you to implement in order to improve load time
Google has also added tools in Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools. All of these are accessible and easily understood by non-technical users.
Q. Does page load time affect my search rankings?
A. Yes! Since 2009, Google has been consistent in their messaging about the increasing importance of page speed in their algorithms.
Q. Are some pages more important than others?
A. In general you want your entire site to be fast because customers tend to abandon a site more often whenever any page takes too long to load. That being said, if your checkout pages are slow, it often becomes a question of trust with the shopper which can kill a transaction. The general consensus is to keep your checkout pages clean and simple to increase their speed.
Q. How important is my host to page load time?
A. Not all hosts are the same, which is a good thing because merchants have a wide variety of needs. However, your hosting environment makes a material difference in page load times. Even with the same server specifications, some hosts are speedier because they have more connections to ISPs, their SAN array is faster, and their load balancing is more efficient. Even a site that is properly optimized for content and server configuration can be slow if the host is running slow. We strongly encourage you to thoroughly research hosting services to ensure they meet your needs before choosing one.
The Big Q. What can I do to speed up my site?
A. There is rarely one cause of slow site speed. Optimizing site speed is really a collaborative effort and often requires creativity from and collaboration between design, tech, and network resources.
When mustering troops to address the issue, you will probably have projects in three main areas:
2. Catalog Size: The larger your catalog, the greater the burden on your server(s) to load pages, especially when we're talking about SKUs tipping over 100K.
3. Your Server: If Google's Page Speed Analyzer is telling you that your server response times are a problem, your team should make sure that your server has enough resources and that they are deployed appropriately. You may have enough resources but you're not using the server effectively. Solving this issue will require collaboration between your server or network maintenance folks, and your hosting organization.
We also recommend you explore Magento Enterprise Edition. With its latest product update, the focus was on performance improvements, specifically around speed. Find out more about Magento Enterprise Edition and see how it can help with your site performance.
Page load time is a silent killer and you may not even know it is a problem it until your sales start suffering. Teamwork between designers, content managers, developers and network administrators, and working with knowledgeable service providers are the best way to address the problem and regular monitoring is a must.