Slow Loading Speeds Impact eCommerce
Within the eCommerce community, there’s tons of content about speed optimization, but how much do you really know about the actual impact site speed has on your business? If you’re like most eCommerce merchants, you probably aren’t well versed on the ways that website speed impacts everything from SEO rankings to Google Ads quality scores… but that’s about to change!
When it comes to the mechanics of speeding up your site, you may very well rely on experts, like your eCommerce web host and web developers. In this article, we’ll give you an overview of why you should be making page loading speeds a priority with these vendors.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO can be, by far, one of the best and most cost-effective ways to attract shoppers to your store. As you may know, lots of factors impact how your site ranks in search engines like Google. Of course, the content of your website is crucial, as are backlinks that signal to search engines that other websites see your content as valuable. However, speed is also an important part of that ranking.
Put succinctly, shoppers don’t like slow websites, so search engines show preferences to fast sites. Google has gone so far as to release a new set of tests called Core Web Vitals; These are intended to help website owners better understand their webpage speed issues so that anything slowing down individual pages can be addressed.
While speed may not be the #1 SEO ranking factor, it is an important factor and can cause your site to rank above or below your competitors.
Many people mistakenly think that Google’s advertising platform is a pure auction – promoting the highest bidding websites above all others. While it’s true that there’s an auction system involved, Google does take a lot more than bids into account. After all, if consumers are frequently unhappy with where ads lead them, they’ll stop clicking on ads.
One of the many factors that Google takes into account in its auction system is a quality score. This quality score factors in your landing page experience, including the loading speed of those pages. Low ad quality scores impact whether your ad is shown, where it appears, if ad extensions are displayed, and even how much you pay per click.
Companies like Google aren’t specifically fixated on speed. They’re fixated on user experience and user satisfaction. Whether you’re driving traffic through SEO, PPC, or just supporting returning eCommerce shoppers, your website visitors will react to the loading speed of your site. If the site is slow, conversion rates will suffer.
In recent years, this has been proven time and time again. A 2021 study by Ecommerce SpeedHub illustrated that “An interesting symmetry pivots on the four-second page load time average: sessions that beat four seconds capture 59% of conversions, while sessions that trail four seconds deliver a near-identical 58% … of bounces.”
This trend was noticeable a lot earlier though. In 2017 Google published research showing that: “As page load time goes from 1s to 5s the probability of bounce increases 90%”. In other words, people surfing the web get impatient quickly and will move on rather than wait a few seconds for the website to load.
How to know if your eCommerce site is up to speed?
Now that you understand your site speed will impact your ability to attract shoppers and convert them into paying customers, you may be wondering if your site is already fast enough. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to test. There are many free speed tests available, such as:
Keep in mind that most quick tests will simply check an individual URL within your website, such as your homepage. You should absolutely be logging into Google Search Console to review your Core Web Vitals reports. If pages are listed as “poor” or “needs improvement”, that will tip you off to speed issues that are being experienced on specific pages, such as product and category pages.
What if you discover that web pages in your website are performing poorly?
Lots of factors will impact the loading speeds of individual web pages within your eCommerce store. This includes everything from server configurations, to the coding of your website, 3rd party apps that load within your website, and the content added to your site – like images and banners.
Anyone can run a speed test. However, you’ll want to discuss loading speed optimization opportunities with experienced professionals. Most often this conversation will include both your web developers and web hosting providers.
I’ve sped up my site. Now what?
Keep an eye on your key performance indicators (KPIs). This includes your eCommerce conversion rate, bounce rate, SEO rankings, and Google Ads Quality Scores. If you’ve made a significant improvement to your loading speeds, you can anticipate seeing a bump in such metrics over time.
You should also continue to monitor your Core Web Vitals scores for signs of loading speed issues. Most websites continue to evolve over time with new content, new apps or extensions, and various software updates. As your site changes, adjustments may be needed in order to keep the pages in your website loading quickly for shoppers.
About the Author:
Director of Partnerships & Alliances, JetRails
Robert Rand is the Director of Partnerships & Alliances at JetRails, a mission-critical eCommerce hosting service. Robert has over a decade of experience in helping merchants benefit from sound eCommerce and digital marketing strategies, assisting organizations of all types and sizes to grow and succeed via digital commerce. Robert is also the host of The JetRails Podcast.