Page load speed is the length of time required to display all the contents of the page. Web page load speed is a key factor that enhances user experience and positively impacts search engine rankings. Slower page response results in page abandonment. On an average, a web page is expected to load in 2 seconds. Any longer than 3 seconds, users tend to abandon the website. Slower page response results in higher page abandonment. Furthermore, page abandonment is amplified by the overwhelming availability of similar web services on the internet. This not only means loss of unique users, and decrease in conversion rates, but also a loss in existing users.
The main consequences for poor page load speed are as follows:
- There is a 7% drop in conversion rates and a 16% drop in customer satisfaction with one second delay on page load.
- Research found that 47% of consumers do not wait longer than 2 seconds for a page to load.
- After a dissatisfying experience, 79% of the visitors are are less likely to shop from that site . (sources: gomez.com, akamai.com, blog.kissmetrics.com).
Hence, even with a number one ranking in search results for the target keyword, if consumers abandon the website for poor page load speed, all marketing efforts are wasted.
In order to meet user expectations, it is important to ensure that all the pages load within a maximum of two seconds. Some of the key ways to improve this speed are as follows:
1. The more on-page components, the longer it takes for rendering the page. These components include images, scripts, stylesheets, Flash, etc. This can be overcome by
- Streamlining the number of elements in the page such as writing concise content, reducing the number of links under your main navigation, removing extra features that could be potentially distracting to your webpage visitors.
- Using CSS instead of images when possible. Browsers can support different effects such as opacity, box shadows, text shadows and rounded corners using only CSS, without the need for images. Browsers such as Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, IE9 and IE10 supports all the new CSS properties.
- Combining multiple stylesheets into one.
- Minimizing scripts and including them at the end of the page.
2. Reduce Server Response Time: The time required for a web server to respond to a request from a browser is known as server response time. Google recommends to reduce this server response time under 200 ms. The main factors to be considered here are Website Traffic, Website Resource Usage, Web Server Software and Web Hosting. Two basic ways to improve server response time are:
- Using the existing hosting more efficiently.
- Paying more for advanced hosting and hardware.
3. Enable Browser Caching: A cache is a temporary storage of web documents. This helps to load the page next time without another HTTP request to the server. Enabling and updating caches regularly can help in overcoming the slower page loading time. This helps to reduce the bandwidth usage, server load and perceived lag.
4. Above the fold content prioritization: This is the portion of the webpage that shows up when the page first loads. This content can be made to load earlier in order to improve user experience.
5. Reduce plugins: Too many plugins create security issues, technical difficulties and slows down the overall performance of the website.
6. Reduce HTTP redirects: Website redirections or URL forwarding is done to make a website available under more than one URL. Such website redirections create HTTP requests which in turn increase load time.
7. Optimize CSS Delivery: Stylesheets and scripts load everytime with a new page. This can slow down the page load. However, saving these files externally requires them to load only once for the entire website. This results into a faster loading of all the individual pages of the website.
In addition to the above, there are many other ways that can help in optimizing the page loading time of the website.