We’ve talked about ‘bounce’ rates before here on more than a few different occasions, and for those of you who have any type of vested interest in the appeal of you website you won’t need to be convinced how too much ‘bouncing’ is hugely problematic. But for those who may not be familiar with the term, let’s share the definition exactly as it’s provided by Wikipedia.
Bounce rate is an Internet marketing term used in web traffic analysis. It represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and then leave (“bounce”) rather than continuing to view other pages within the same site. Bounce rate is calculated by counting the number of single page visits and dividing that by the total visits. – source; Wikipedia
It wouldn’t be entirely accurate to say that an advanced bounce rate is more of a problem for sites that exist for e-commerce purposes, but it’s fair to say they’re going to have more to lose. Here at 4GoodHosting, we’re like any good Canadian web hosting provider in that we know explicitly well how much of a concern this will be for customers who have a good portion of the profitability of their business – whether entirely online, or only partially – relying on a website that retains customers fairly reliably.
There’s any number of reasons why a visitor may bounce, but obviously one of the primary ones is going to be choosing to move on when a page loads too slowly. Patience is in short supply all across the board these days, and it’s especially true for those utilizing the web to find what they want or need.
You’ve Got 2 Seconds – Or So
Here’s the issue; most website visitors expect a website to take no more than two seconds to load. Your site may offer the freshest content, the most creative design, and top-notch service, but if pages load like pouring molasses you are going to struggle to increase your monthly visitors. In the bigger picture, faster page load times equal a better user experience (UX) and with that comes much lower bounce rates.
Good Stuff; Google PageSpeed Insights
Google PageSpeed Insights is a service offered by the Internet Services Giant that will both help you identify what is slowing you down plus give you the keys to online success and the ability to have greater control of your website.
So what is it exactly?
Google PageSpeed Insights was designed to be a free web performance tool that can help you make your website faster and more mobile-friendly. It analyzes how your web pages run and can show you the necessary steps required to improve the page load time by following recommendations on best web practices.
PageSpeed Insights measures the performance for desktop and mobile devices and provides reports on the performance of your pages, along with an overall score. With that also comes their suggestions on what you can do to improve page loading speeds for your site. The PageSpeed Insights Score ranges from 0 to 100 points, where a higher score stands for better performance.
Why You Need It
We’ve already established that many would-be visitors will bail on a page if it takes too long to load. And yes, if you’re in e-commerce than some of them may well end up at your competitors’ websites. Headlines, the design of your website, or the right placement of a Call-To-Action (CTA) button are all important, but page load time is as critical as anything else for your conversion rate.
Using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool is recommended, and after you perform the tests on your site you can then make any necessary corrections needed to increase your score. The goal is to keep your web page size down and optimize everything you — or the tool — can possibly think of.
Ways to Improve your Score
We’ll preface here by saying the following is not meant to substitute for actual using of PageSpeed Insights. You should make use of it, and considering it’s free why wouldn’t you?
However, here are known ways to increase the time a user stays on your page, and ones that will likely be confirmed when you get your results from PageSpeed insights. The score report will present the areas where it detects loading issues in yellow and red (depending on how bad you are scoring), which shows you where you should focus your efforts.
- Prioritize Visible, Above-the-Fold Content
Page load time isn’t determined only by how quickly your page loads, as perceived performance is also part of the equation. Perceived performance is the feeling a user has while it loads. If the code is structured incorrectly, it can create a lag for content on top of the page. This makes the page load time seem slower. Improving it by prioritizing the loading time of the areas that are likely most important to the user is the best approach. Concentrate on the content above-the-fold, and see to it that it loads first and relatively speedily.
- Avoid Landing Page Redirects
Websites not created for responsive use – meaning the page adjusts itself to the specific type of device – could result in a redirect. Having a user redirected to an optimized page means additional seconds for page load time, and that’s not a good thing. The best way to prevent this problem is by opting for responsive web design.
- Enable Compression
If you serve the full content of your page with uncompressed files, your page load time can go up by a lot. By enabling gzip, a file format used for file compression and decompression, the page can shrink in size and deliver much faster load times. Compressed files allow a web server to provide faster requests to your users.
- Improve Server Response Time
When a user opens a website, the web browser used presents a request to your server to view the available content. Server response time refers to the time your server needs to begin loading the page content, and that time can be extended too far by a number of factors like slow routing or database queries. The biggest factor is usually the hosting platform you have chosen. There are some options out there, like the Secure Web Accelerator with DDoS protection from 101domain, that offers you excellent server response time with increased uptime, and protection from malicious cyberattacks.
- Optimize Images
Graphic elements are great and add to the visual appeal of a site in a big way. No one’s going to suggest you shouldn’t make good use of them, but pictures, logos, or icons can negatively affect page speeds. So much so in fact that they can be responsible for up to 2/3 of your page’s total weight.
There are many free tools that you can use to resize images and optimize them so that they’re easier and quicker to load.
- Leverage Browser Caching
There’s going to be time required for a web browser to display various items to load the page completely, but what you need to do is make it so that the amount of time required is as little as possible. Caching allows a browser to remember what loaded previously, which will mean faster page load times. The more elements your browser can cache, the fewer it has to load when a user makes a request. It’s well known that Google recommends a minimum of one week of caching.
These are just a few of the basic guidelines for increasing page load speeds as based on what most people will see as recommendations following using Google PageSpeed Insights. Using this tool is a can-do way to improve your page speed and both attract and retain potential customers at your website. Check it out and see for yourself, and again – it’s free to use.