The load time of a website refers to the number of seconds it takes for it to display. It’s also possible to calculate load times per page, including all of the elements.
When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), load times are an important parameter that the principal search engines, particularly Google, have taken into account for a number of years. However, for some time now, Facebook, Apple and Google have undertaken projects aimed at decreasing load times for articles and websites on mobile devices. For example, Google is implementing a major search engine update in May of 2021 in order to offer a better user experience by including the user-friendliness of webpages as an SEO criterion. Therefore, the quality of the user experience on your website, including its mobile-friendliness and its load times, will now influence its ranking in Google’s search results. To learn more about the changes Google is making to its algorithm during the month of May, check out our blog entry What impact will the Google algorithm update have on your website?
You should be aware that smartphones are currently the second most commonly used means of browsing the internet. Therefore, by having a website with an acceptable load time on mobile devices and ergonomics that are in keeping with best practices, you’re responding positively to the expectations of your users.
Load times: an important element of the user experience
When it comes to browsing the web, just as in everyday life, people are impatient and don’t take their time. Everything goes quickly and everything has to go quickly. Internet users expect to get the information they want right away.
As a result, a website’s load time influences not only its ranking in the major search engines but also its audience and its conversion rates. Furthermore, it plays an important role in creating a first impression. If you want to make a good impression on a new user, your website must load quickly (almost instantaneously or in one second).
The demands of internet users
For internet users, a website that loads quickly is a gauge of its reliability, good health, quality and security. This is especially important to them when they’re browsing on a mobile device.
Here are a few key figures:
- Eighty-five percent of internet users expect a website to load in less than three seconds.
- Thirty-two percent of users visiting a website on a mobile device will leave the site if the load time is from one to three seconds.
- Fifty-three percent of users visiting a website on a mobile device will leave the site if the load time is greater than three seconds.
- Forty percent of users visiting a website on a computer will leave the site if the pages take longer than three seconds to load.
- Seventy-four percent of computer users will leave a website if the pages take longer than five seconds to load.
- Eighty percent of them will never return to the website.
- As an example, Amazon calculated that an increase of just one second in its platform’s load times would result in a loss of 1.6 billion dollars.
Tools to test and analyze load times
You can measure the load times of the different pages of your website using various software programs that analyze the content and then generate suggestions to help you accelerate those times.
The principal testing tools are as follows:
- Google PageSpeed Insights allows you to determine the load time of your website on mobile devices and computers and specifies certain actions you can implement to improve your score.
- Google Test My Site is valid only for the mobile version of your website. Test My Site enables you to obtain very precise results.
- Pingdom is recognized as one of the leading tools for determining a website’s load times. It indicates a performance score, as well as numerous other metrics.
- GTmetrix is the ideal tool for beginners, as it offers numerous options (verification of your website from various test regions or using different browsers, for example), in addition to simple, comprehensive reports.
- WebPageTest allows you to test your website load times using Internet Explorer and Chrome. You receive a detailed diagnostic, as well as numerous tips to improve your load times.
The five factors that slow down your website and how to optimize them
The five main factors
- Images and videos
Because images and videos are large files, they’re the two main elements that will slow down the load times of your website pages. They also tend to consume a lot of energy on the server side.
To optimize them, you can compress them, choosing a good balance between quality and file size to improve the load times of your pages. Consider examining all of the visual elements that are present on your website, including not only your photos and videos but also your banners, pictograms, animated elements, etc.
- HTML and CSS code
This is a more technical factor, but the more complicated or superfluous the code is, the longer the pages will take to load.
To optimize it, you must streamline the code by deleting any unnecessary sequences, limiting the use of tables and iframes, compressing certain CSS or HTML files, etc.
- The website architecture
A very complex design that includes a lot of animated elements with complicated effects, dense content, excessive space reserved for advertising, etc. will slow down the website’s load times.
To optimize it, think about simplicity and a minimalist design to streamline the website and improve its general readability.
- The server and host
Your choice of host for your website will influence the speed at which your pages will display on your users’ devices. Don’t trust shared hosting; instead, use a professional solution that offers better performance. You should be aware that an optimal server response time is approximately 200 milliseconds.
For superior optimization, you can also opt to use a Content Delivery Network (CDN), which represents a group of servers, located in different geographical zones of the world, which deliver the pages of your website to internet users based on their location.
- The caching system
Server-side caching systems permit maximum savings in terms of the resources used by the servers. They do this by diminishing server requests and creating static pages, which will display more quickly than dynamic pages.
To optimize your website’s load times, don’t hesitate to use server-side caching plugins.
Would you like to perform a comprehensive analysis of your website’s load times and optimize them? Would you like to improve the search engine ranking of your website? The professionals at BJMédia are SEO specialists who can address all of your needs.