Site Speed Really is Important

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This week will be the start of the Christmas shopping season in the United States.  And while the Monday following Thanksgiving is usually the day people use their computers to purchase their Christmas gifts online, studies show that people are going to be starting earlier this year.  So much so that online vendors such as Amazon are going to be offering Christmas deals early.

So if you own an e-commerce website and your traffic climbs drastically this week are you ready for it?

We recently wrote an article outlining some tips you can use to both check your site’s speed and possibly fix a slow site.

But these have always been thought to be best practices.  While it makes sense that a faster site is generally a higher converting site, there hasn’t been any real concrete data to support this.

That is until this week when web monitoring company Monitis released results of a new survey conducted about online usage.

One of the key findings was this:  “74% of all online shoppers said that they would switch to a competing online vendor if they could find a better user experience and faster website than the one they currently use.

Further:  “61% of all online shoppers would leave a web page and search for a competing vendor if it took longer than 30 seconds to load.”

Read that again because I think it’s important – if your website takes more than 30 seconds to load, almost 2/3 of your sites visitors will abandon your site in favor of your competitor’s site especially if it is faster.

Right now you are probably saying to yourself “that’s ok my site loads fine right now.” This may be true today, but what happens if you get a rapid increase in traffic?  Can it handle the load if your visitors increase by 50%?  How about 10%?  Are you willing to take a chance that your server truly is ready for the increased traffic?

While it is true that most sites merely want to avoid downtime, in reality they should also be focused on site speed and load time.

That is why you need to act like a searcher, this week more than ever, and test your site.  Find a term you know your site is highly ranked for and search that phrase.  Then click the search result and see how quickly your site loads.  Did it load in a few seconds? Or was it more like 20 or 30?  Remember that searchers have a short attention span. If your site doesn’t load within 10 seconds of the click from the search results page there’s a good change that your potential customer will hit their back button, never to return to your site again.

But let’s say it did load quickly.  Within 3 or 4 seconds you landed on your site.  Click through a few pages.  Perhaps add an item or 2 to your shopping cart.  Is it still loading OK?

Go through and pretend like you are going to complete the sale.  Does the shopping cart function as smoothly as the website? Or is the cart slower?

Do this every day (even during Thanksgiving) to be sure your site is still running ok.  Also consider your recovery plan.  What if the site goes down on Thursday, when most American’s celebrate Thanksgiving.  Is there someone on your team who can react quickly to get your site up and running again?

All these issues can and will affect your site’s ability to convert browsers into buyers.  It’s not just about rankings anymore.  Because no matter what the rank of your website is in the search results, if your site is slow and frustrates users you are losing business.

You can read more about the research here.

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