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Website Speed: How Important Is Performance for My Business Website in 2020?

Published by in Technology on . Last Modified Tuesday, March 17, 2020.

The first few seconds a visitor spends on your website is critical. That’s why it’s also critical to have your website performing at its best during these precious seconds. Let’s take a closer look at why speed matters so much.

Why Is Website Loading Speed Important?

There are many factors as to why a visitor chooses one website over another, but none of these matter if the website doesn’t load before the visitor loses his patience.

Users Expect Fast Websites

Users have come to expect immediate results from their efforts browsing the web:

  • Your website has to be fast so visitors stay on your website to complete both their own (and your) goal before bouncing (leaving your website before interacting with it).
  • If your website is faster than your competitors, it’s a factor in users feeling you are more professional.

New Technology Requires Better Performance

  • With more and more users being on mobile devices—often on unreliable mobile networks—websites need to be even faster. One might think the average user is on the latest smartphone—but think again. In fact, the average user device is a $200 device [Source: idc.com].
  • With websites having more features than ever before, paying close attention to performance becomes even more important.

Search Engines Factor in Website Speed When Ranking Your Website

  • Search engines, like Google, accommodates for users expectations by factoring site load speed into how your website ranks among your competitors. Among the many factors Google looks at when determining where your website shows up, your page speed is important. [Source: Google Webmasters]

Mobile First Search Indexing

As of 2019, Google put more emphasis on how websites perform on mobile devices rather than desktop devices. This means that fast performance no longer is a nice-to-have, but an absolute necessity. [Source: Google Webmaster Central Blog]

What Does Page Load Time and Website Load Times Really Mean?

The term page or website “load” time can be subject to interpretation. Before getting into some hard numbers, let’s take a moment to define the metric that matters the most in real world:

  • “Time To Interactive” (TTI). This means the time before a web page has displayed useful content and the page is ready to respond to user interactions (during a visitor’s first visit to a website).

The Numbers II: Real World Website Load Times in 2020

Before we look at exactly how website speed can impact your business, let’s look at some real world loading times for some context.

I wanted some updated data, so I set out to do my own research. I tested the Time To Interactive (TTI) on 150 randomly selected local businesses here in Vancouver, WA. The only criteria I had is that they are operational businesses. The tests are averages from loading the websites on a mobile device, using Google’s Lighthouse Audit Tool.

Here’s what I found:

  • The average load time (TTI) for the 150 business websites is 10.22 seconds.
  • The median load time (TTI) for the 150 business websites is 9 seconds.
  • 70% of the websites have a load time of more than 6 seconds.
  • 41% of the websites had a load time of more than 10 seconds.
  • 20% of the websites have a load time of more than 15 seconds.
  • 8% of the websites have a load time of more than 20 seconds.

The Numbers II: How Fast Does My Website Need to Load in 2020?

If My Website Loads in Less Than 3 Seconds

  • You have a fast website. But even within this span we start to see the effects of load times.
  • Akamai found that with every 100 ms delay in website load time, conversion rates are hurt by 7%. [Source: Akamai].
  • The BBC reports that they lose 10% of visitors for every seconds a page takes to load. [Source: Net Magazine].
  • Walmart saw a 1% increase in revenue for every 100 ms improvement in page load [Source: WPO].

If My Website Takes More Than 3 Seconds to Load

  • If a website takes 3 seconds to load, the probability of a user leaving before interacting increases by 32% [Source: Think With Google].
  • Even after 3 seconds, users start to lose attention and get a feeling that something is wrong [Source: Google Developers Blog].

If My Website Takes More Than 5 Seconds to Load

  • If a website takes 5 seconds to load, the probability of a user leaving before interacting increases by 90% [Source: Google Developers Blog].

If My Website Takes More Than 6 Seconds to Load

  • As page load time passes seven seconds, the probability of a mobile site visitor leaving your site without interacting with it increases 106% [Source: Google Developers Blog].

When Your Website Takes More Than 10 Seconds to Load

  • Your users have started to forget what they came for and they go on to the next thing on their mind.
  • If your website takes 10 seconds to load, the probability of a user leaving before interacting increases by 123% [Source: Google Developers Blog]

Website Speed: An Opportunity to Leave Your Competitors in the Dust

But hold on. Looking at the numbers above, surely this sounds like an opportunity to get a leg up on the competition? The answer is a big yes. Those in the know can benefit greatly from this insight and it might actually even be what gets you that number one spot in the search results.

In an upcoming post, we’ll take a look at some of the many measures that can be taken to get up to 2020 speed requirements.