August 9, 2019 by Ben Chafetz

Page Loading Speed: A Complete Guide

Is your website is falling behind when it comes to page loading speed? 

Looking for ways to improve your page loading speed? 

You’re in the right place. 

We’ve put together a comprehensive guide on everything you need to know about page loading speed. 

We’ll show you how to measure your page loading speed, go over average loading speeds for eCommerce websites, discuss ways to improve your own page loading speeds, and much more. 

Let’s get moving!

Why does page loading speed matter?

Page loading speed matters for some very big reasons:

  • Bounce rates – The bounce rate is the number of customers who visit a single page on your website and then leave without visiting another page. Loading speed has a huge effect on bounce rates. Pages with a loading time of 2 seconds have an average bounce rate of 9.6%, while pages with a 7 second loading time have a bounce rate of 32.3%. That’s a massive difference and one not to be ignored.
  • Conversion rates – Similarly, page loading speed affects conversion rates – the percentage of customers who actually make a purchase from your store. Websites that load in 2.4 seconds have a conversion rate of about 1.9%. Bump that page load speed to 5.7 seconds and you’re looking at a conversion rate of 0.6% or less. Yuck.
  • SEO rankingsGoogle and other search engines have incorporated site speed into SEO algorithms, and prefer sites with faster loading times – so boosting page speed can also enhance SEO. 
  • User experience – Even if your website is a delight to use, visitors will quickly become frustrated if each page takes more than 5 to load. In fact, 40% of users will abandon your site if it takes longer than just 3 seconds to load. (And you thought teenagers had a short attention span…)

How Can I Measure My Page Loading Speed?

For a comprehensive guide to measuring your Magento page loading speed, you can check out this post we’ve written on the subject – but we’ll give you the “Cliff’s Notes” version here.

You can measure your page loading speed manually, of course – but it’s much easier to use a tool that’s meant for the job. 

Google Pagespeed Insights is a great tool to measure page load speed to help you get a quick assessment of your site’s overall performance, and get quick suggestions for improving loading speed.

Pagespeed Insights doesn’t give you a straight-up measurement of loading time, though – and instead gives you a ranking from 0-100. If you want to measure the exact loading time in seconds, we recommend Gtmetrix, which is what we use at 121eCommerce. 

You’ll get the exact time your page took to load in seconds, an overview of the page size, and a PageSpeed and YSlow score to help you understand your performance, and how you can improve. Test the page load speed for a few pages. Then test some of your competitor’s pages. Based on the results, you’ll either need a box of tissue or a bottle of champagne (we’re hoping for the latter.)

What’s a good page loading speed for my website?

We recommend you set a page loading speed target at 3 seconds. Minimum. According to SEMRush, this means your website will be in the top 50% of websites when it comes to loading speeds.

If you can manage to drop your page loading time to 1.7 seconds or less, it will be faster than 74% of websites. But really, anything under 2 seconds is phenomenal. Google recommends that eCommerce websites do their best to load in under 2 seconds.

You should always be looking for ways to reduce your page loading speed – but if you can aim for between 2-3 seconds, you’ll be crushing most of your competitors. Oh yeah. 

What Affects Page Loading Speed? How Can I Improve It? 

There are many factors that can affect page loading time. Some of the biggest factors include:

  • Images – Large, non-optimized images can be extremely resource-heavy, and cause your website to slow down. Make sure you eliminate unnecessary images and compress your images to reduce their size. Use JPG images for products, and SVG vector images for logos, icons, and other website design elements.
  • Code complexity and size If you have a lot of complex code on your site, this can slow it down. We recommend assessing your website regularly to remove unnecessary “spaghetti” code and using minification to reduce the complexity and size of your website’s code.
  • Plugins and APIs If you have integrated your website with a lot of third-party applications or you’re using a lot of extensions, these could be slowing your website down. Make sure to disable and remove unnecessary APIs, plugins, and extensions.
  • Server and hosting The more you pay for better hosting, the better your performance will be. We recommend always buying the best hosting you can afford – you can make all the tweaks you want to improve your page loading speed, but if your web host is slow, it won’t make a difference. In the world of hosting, the clichè, “You get what you pay for,” is painfully true.
  • Location of customers and servers Your site will always take longer to load for customers who are farther away from your server. You can consider using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) like CloudFlare to spread your content between different servers in different geographic locations – and boost page loading times.
  • Caching Caching allows website assets to be stored on a visitor’s computer or other device. By storing files locally, the loading time for a particular page can be reduced dramatically.

    Magento 2 comes with powerful out-of-the-box full-page caching features which can make your store blazing-fast when properly implemented. Take a look at this page from Magento to learn more. 

Make It Your Goal to improve page loading speed of your website 

If your website doesn’t load in 3 seconds or less, don’t worry. Just implementing a few of the tips in this article can help improve your site’s performance.

Stuck? 

Need help? 

Want some advice from eCommerce experts? 

We’re here to help. 

We can help you identify the major causes of your slowdown, develop a solution to boost performance, and ensure your site lives up to its full potential. 

Contact us to learn more, or take a look at our blog for more eCommerce tips and tricks.

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