Imagine driving down a busy highway. Traffic starts to slow as drivers merge or try to exit onto busy off ramps. No matter where you are going, slow traffic is not a pleasant experience. Now imagine that is the experience some users have when using your website.
How This Affects You
Not only is it frustrating and deters users from staying on your site, but Google hates it! Google found that when it ranks slower sites towards the top of the listing pages, people get a poor user experience, which decreases their use of Google as their search engine. In fact, statistics show that when Google experienced a 1/2 second slowdown, its traffic dropped by 20%.
How You Could Be Making It Worse
Adding a bunch of photos or videos might seem like a great idea. Some sites tend to overload their homepage with widgets, plugins, links and photos. You’re trying to set a first impression, right? You might be sending the wrong one, slowly. Not only is it visually confusing, but depending on the size of those files you could be bogging down your site.
The worst part is you might be unaware your website loads slowly. If you visit your own site frequently(I mean, I hope you do), it’s likely the site itself has been cached to improve load times.
There are a few things tools available to improve your site rankings and your load speeds.
- Google PageSpeed – made by Google to help diagnose what is wrong and suggest ways to fix your speed issues.
- Optimizer – There’s many ways to do this, including editing files in a photo program. Simply resize or crop them. Another is with an image optimizer program like Yahoo!’s Smush.it. You can use the tool right from the site to compact images (without losing quality).
- Invest – If you have a cheap or free website hosted on a cheaper hosting site, you get what you pay for. For faster speeds and user experience, you might have to bite the bullet and invest some time or more money into improving your site and finding a better host.