SEM

The Importance Of Page Load Speed

Benjamin Arabov
By Benjamin Arabov CEO

With so many sites at their fingertips, today’s online shoppers don’t have to suffer through slow-loading pages. If one of your pages doesn’t load at lightning-fast speed, your customer will move on to a more reliable online store. Rather than converting those clicks into sales, you’ll have delivered a bad customer experience instead.

In fact, a one-second delay in page load time has been proven to cause a 7 percent loss in conversion and 11 percent fewer page views. For an online store earning $50,000 a day, that one-second delay adds up to more than $1 million in lost sales each year.

Wait a second.No, that’s too long.

Remember when you were willing to wait a few seconds for a computer to respond to a click on a website or a tap on a keyboard? These days, even 400 milliseconds — literally the blink of an eye — is too long, as Google engineers have discovered. This hardly perceptible delay has a major impact on search habits.

“Subconsciously, you don’t like to wait,” said Arvind Jain, a Google engineer and the company’s resident speed maestro. “Every millisecond matters.”

Google is one of many tech companies that is on a new quest for speed, challenging the likes of Mr. Jain to make fast go faster. This is because data-hungry smartphones and tablets are creating frustrating digital traffic jams as people download maps, video clips of sports highlights, news updates or recommendations for nearby restaurants. The competition to be the quickest is fierce to say the least.

People will visit a website less often if it is slower than a competitor’s by more than 250 milliseconds (a millisecond is a thousandth of a second).

What is Page Load

In its simplest terms, page load time is the average amount of time it takes for a page to show up on your screen. It’s calculated from initiation (when you click on a page link or type in a Web address) to completion (when the page is fully loaded in the browser). Usually measured in seconds, page load time is made up of two different parts:

  1. Network and Server Time: Based on how speedy the Internet connection is and how swiftly static assets like photos and other files are served up.
  2. Browser Time: How long it takes for the browser to parse and execute the document and render the page to make it available for user interaction.

The same web page can have different page load times in different browsers (e.g. Safari vs. Internet Explorer), on different platforms (e.g. mobile vs. desktop), and in different locations. If your site is served by one data center in the U.S. but you sell to customers in Australia and the U.K., for instance, those international shoppers are likely to experience much lengthier load times. But if your site’s static assets are copied onto different data centers around the world, the page will pull from the data center that’s closest to your shoppers, which can drastically speed up page load times.

Different pages on the same site can also have radically different load times because of developer decisions like richer design elements, beefier functionality, and the amount of content on a page. There are several online tools for determining average page load times, which means it’s entirely possible for your web development team to focus on streamlining your slowest-loading pages first.

Man looking at analytics projected at modern window screen
Guides

Download our Google Tag Manager Guide

Tablet held in hand and finger touching analytics graphs
Guides

Download our Rebuild & Grow Your SEM & Shopping Campaigns Guide