Guest blog by Joseph Oni
Writer for OutstandingSETUP
If you run an online business, especially an ecommerce website, what could be the most dangerous threat to your online business?
There are often a lot of answers to this question, but you can be pretty sure that having a slow website ranks high on the list of threats to online businesses. What makes it even more dangerous is that most people aren’t aware of this.
For example, recent data has shown that for every additional second it takes your website to load, it’ll cost you 7 percent in conversions. In other words, if your online business makes $1 million annually, you’re losing $70,000 just because of a one second delay in your site loading speed.
Now, this goes on with every additional second it takes your site to load. Do you see how dangerous this can be?
Building a successful online business isn’t just about creating a website, having some products and doing endless marketing. You also have to eliminate some of the most dangerous threats your business will ever experience — before they eliminate your business.
Here are four ways a slow website is killing your business and how you can fix it.
1. It Is Costing You Sales
Like I mentioned above, you’ll lose 7 percent in website conversions for every additional second it takes your site to load. This compounds over time, making it a real threat to your business.
2. It Is Costing You Your Brand
That must be a really bold statement for damage a slow website could cause, but you’d be surprised to find out how true this is.
According to data from the same study mentioned earlier in this article, it was revealed that most people expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less, and if a website takes longer to load, it will most likely affect customers’ loyalty to the website.
The same study revealed that 64 percent of shoppers who are not satisfied with their experiences on your site will go elsewhere to shop, 88 percent would not return again, and more than a third of them will tell others about their bad experiences. In other words, not only do you lose the loyalty of the people affected, but you’re also probably going to look bad to their friends.
3. It Is Costing You Direct Traffic
Does your website speed have any correlation with how much direct traffic you get? If the stats mentioned above on people leaving due to a site being slow are true, then yes.
As proof of this, popular blogger Neil Patel recently documented his experience and shares how making some simple tweaks to make his site faster instantly doubled direct traffic to his site.
When visiting your website becomes extremely easy and seamless, customers will find themselves visiting it without knowing it. However, visiting your website becomes a nightmare when it is always too slow.
4. It Is Costing You Quality Search Engine Rankings
Google is the number one referrer of traffic to a majority of websites online. Sometimes, it results in more than 80 percent of traffic to most websites.
Of course, you shouldn’t rely on traffic from Google alone, but it’s worth asking yourself what your business could do with 70-80 percent more traffic from Google.
Google recently announced that they’re now making site speed a factor for ranking websites, In other words, the slower your website is, the worse your search engine rankings become.
How to Fix Your Site Speed Problem
While the above are some interesting ways a slow website can damage your business, it’s much more important that you know how to fix this. Here are some ways to make your site faster.
1. Get a Better Host
This is perhaps the most important step. It’s easy to ignore it and go into the technical fixes, but the best fixes won’t help if you have an ineffective host.
No matter how big your website is, getting a quality host shouldn’t be difficult. There are countless cloud hosting companies available today that can host your website for very cheap while giving you capacity to optimize it for the best speed possible.
2. Combine Your Website Layout Images with CSS Sprites
If your host is great, and your website is still slow, it probably has something to do with your design. You might have to rebuild your website code depending on how complex it is, but starting with combining your layout images should solve some of the problems.
I know this sounds technical, but here’s how it works: your design probably looks good because of the several images it downloads when your website is loaded. This is why most websites look ugly when images are disabled in a browser. When a visitor tries to visit a page on your website, from the header to sidebar images and other images, each image will be loaded individually. Each image results in a new server request that makes your server slower. However, by combining all the images into one, only one request is made, which not only reduces the image size, as well as the number of server requests, but also makes your website faster in the process.
Your webmaster can help you with combining your layout images into CSS sprites, or you can use Spriteme.org to do this on your own.
3. Limit the Number of Tracking Codes Used on Your Website, or Put Them in the Footer
As a small business, you’ve read about the importance of testing and how this is something that will help you make more sales. What if it’s costing you traffic and sales?
Every external tracking code used on your website will make a request to an external server, which increases the overall time it takes for your website to load. If you really have to use three different analytics packages, two split-testing tracking services, eye-tracking analytics, etc., then make sure the codes are in the footer. This way, all the content on your website would have loaded first before a user experiences the tracking codes.
4. Reduce the Number of Plug-ins You Install
Just like tracking codes, plug-ins can also slow down your website significantly, especially if you use a CMS such as WordPress. Each plug-in you install will make a database request when your website is loaded. This adds to the overall time it takes for your website to load.
If you don’t need a plug-in, uninstall it. Before installing any plug-in, consider if the function the plug-in performs can be coded into your design, as that’ll save more time when people try to load your website.
Have more feedback on how to make your website faster? Let us know in the comments.
Joseph Oni is a professional marketer and freelancer who helps people get results online, who writes for premium WordPress hosting company, OutstandingSETUP.