This is a guest post from Meg Clarke, owner of Clapping Dog Media.
Here is a quick quiz for you:
Which is more important:
- The speed of your site?
- Or the proportions of the flat lay image on the homepage?
(Hint: the answer has to do with images, but not how pretty they are)
What if your site loads fast on your computer but the mobile version is slow, is that OK?
Does any of this affect your readers? Or what about Google? Do search engines care? You just might be surprised, so read on, friends.
Your Audience Really Cares About Page Speed
We all know that people are impatient, and the researchers over at Akamai and Gomez have figured out precisely how impatient we are when it comes to site loading time and page performance.
Through lots of research, they found that nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less (ummm, that is fast) AND that web users tend to leave a site if it isn’t fully loaded within 3 seconds!
If your site sells products, the research is shocking. They found that 79% of online shoppers who have problems (like a slow check out page, or a delay when advancing from the cart to the payment screen) will never come back to that store! That’s someone who’s trying to buy from you–help them out, sister!
Just to make this super clear: the research says that you are losing visitors and potential paying customers if your site is slow. That is lots of money you’re losing just from a slow site.
Let’s fix that, shall we?
Google Also Really Cares About Page Speed
Page speed also really matters to Google. Nearly 7 years ago Google declared that Page speed was a top ranking factor. Google is focused on delivering the best user experience as possible for their users, and since users care about page speed, so does Google.
A speedy site creates an amazing user experience. Think about it: If you are teasing your readers with decadent photography but the post takes so long to load – that means 2 seconds or longer – they will bail on the site before getting the recipe- and research proves that they won’t come back.
Or perhaps you make money from advertising on your content, a visitor is more likely to visit multiple pages if your site is quick. You will have more clicks the faster your site is. More clicks = more revenue.
Page speed is dependant on a number of different factors– some of the biggest causes of slow sites are:
- Heavy images
- Cheap web hosting
- Too many ads
- Too many widgets
- Embedded media
Is your site slow? How can you figure out how fast your page is?
Take heart, friends! You can find out the answer quickly and easily (and for free!)
There are a few simple and free tools to help you figure out your page performance. Here’s one of our favorites:
This amazing free tool, built by Google, gives insights on the speed of both mobile and desktop versions of your site.
One thing that’s a bit tricky about PageSpeed Insights is that the recommendations can get technical, and some of the suggestions may require you to install a plugin or do some more advanced stuff. However, since this is Google’s Page Speed test, we must pay attention to it!
Another tool that we really like is called Pingdom. Pingdom shows you which files are slowing down the site. It also compares your site to other tested sites so you can get a feel how you rate to other sites.
How did your site fare with these tests? Was it a bit slow?
If it was, chances are the images are to blame. Lifestyle bloggers average 7-9 images per blog post and while they are all staged beautifully, they are not necessarily optimized well for speed.
These images really have an impact on your page performance and will cause Google to push your site down on the search engine results page.
Now. We hear you thinking:
“Um, there is no way I can optimize and re-upload ALL OF THOSE IMAGES ON MY BLOG.” It would take months!
Don’t worry, you don’t have to! You don’t even have to touch any individual image to get your site running smoothly. WP Smush is the industry standard image optimization plugin that will allow you to optimize all of the images in your media gallery at once (or individually) to increase your site speed.
WP Smush makes it easy to keep the resolution you need without killing your website load times. It even has an option to keep the EXIF data within each image for photographers. The plugin will reduce the size of the images without losing the resolution required for exquisite food photography sites. WP Smush has nearly 500K downloads and is the clear choice for reducing the size of images without giving up quality. Give it a try and let us know how much it speeds up your site!
We’re cheering you on, friends!!