[Website Load Speed] Why it’s so important and how to improve it so you don’t lose a single visitor

Having a slow website makes you lose clients.
We know this isn’t the most glamorous way to start a post, but it’s the cold, hard truth.
Just so you get an idea: the average loading speed for a website is usually under 3 seconds
According to a Kissmetric study, if it’s more than 4 seconds, up to 25% of users leave the site.
In other words, a quarter of your potential clients leave almost as soon as they arrive.
It should be clear that you don’t want your e-commerce to move at snail speed, so keep reading because we’ve got some tricks for you to speed up your site’s load speed.
Ready? Fasten your seatbelt – off we go! 😉 

Why it’s important to measure a website’s load speed

Kissmetric isn’t the only company that’s found a correlation between a website’s load speed and its sales: Amazon has too.
The online distribution giant ran a test on their website, and do you know what they found?
They found that a 1-millisecond delay meant 1% less sales.
In fact, this problem is one of the most common reasons why online businesses lose customers.
But, apart from that, a slow website has other negative consequences:

  • Positioning worsens: As you know, Google holds websites with good user experiences in high regard, so if a website takes longer than 4 or 5 seconds to load, Google penalizes it by lowering its search ranking.
  • Load speed on mobile phones is becoming more and more important: The number of users that buy online from their phones keeps increasing, so your website must be mobile-friendly.

Load speed is a key aspect of web usability, so it can have a big impact on your online store’s profitability. 

5 tools to run a speed test on your website

We already know that a fast website is fundamental to avoid losing potential customers.
But how can you check if your e-commerce site’s load speed is optimal?
If you want to get reliable data, we recommend using some of the following tools.

✅ 1. Pingdom Website Speed Test

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Pingdom is a company that specializes in offering solutions to improve blog and website performance.
In this case, however, what we’re most interested in is their tool to track a website’s load speed (which is available for free, as an added bonus!). 
How it works is simple:

  • You just need to insert your website’s URL.
  • Choose the country where you want to run the test. The idea is that you choose the country from which you get the most visits – or one nearby. For example, if most of them are from Spain, choose a European country.

This way, the results will be closer to reality.
Once the analysis is done, the tool gives you a report that includes the following points:

  • Overall assessment of your website’s performance (from 1 to 100). 
  • Your website’s exact load speed and advice to improve it.
  • A dropdown list of all your website’s pages so you know which ones take the longest to load.
  • A downloadable report that you can send to your web administrator (if it’s not you).

Due to how data is displayed concisely and visually, this has become one of the most popular tools among webmasters and designers.
Mind you, if you’re not great with web programming, you might find it a bit difficult. 
No worries, however, we’ve got some tips below. 😉

✅ 2. Google PageSpeed Insights

PageSpeed Insights is the tool Google offers to check a website’s load speed.
The way it functions is quite similar to Pingdom – you insert the URL and the tool gives you some recommendations about how to improve the load speed.
What’s more, this tool analyzes the speed of your website for both the computer (or “desktop”) and mobile versions.
The results it gives you include:

  • Differentiated scores for loading speed on computers and mobile devices.
  • Links to images from your website that are too heavy (here we tell you how to optimize them and make them lighter).
  • Links to the help articles on Google in case you don’t know how to put some of the tips into practice.

Websites usually take longer to load on mobile devices than on computers unless they’ve been specially optimized.
That’s why it’s so important to analyze them separately.

✅ 3. GTMetrix

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GTMetrix allows you to check how fast your website loads in different regions.
You’ll find it particularly useful if you have customers from different countries and want to check your e-commerce performance in each of them.
In general, the longer the distance between your server and the visitor, the slower the loading speed.
For example, if your server is in Spain, your page will load faster for European users than for American ones. 
The list of the countries where you can run the trial is quite long, but you need to sign up on the website to select them (it’s free).
GTMetrix also offers some really interesting functionalities. For example:

  • The load speed tests you run are saved in your account so you can track their progress.
  • It allows you to compare your results with those of the competition (up to four websites).
  • Just like Pingdom, you can download the report in PDF format. 

Its only limitation is that it only allows you to carry out the analysis from a single country at a time.
If you sell in numerous regions, you may find the next tool on our list to be much more useful.

✅ 4. Dot-com Tools

test de velocidad web
This one is a very useful, especially if you have an e-commerce that sells to different countries on different continents.
Dot-com Tools is designed to measure the speed of your website in different cities around the world at the same time.
The page has a very simple interface that allows you to choose the cities you want to analyze.
Besides, it measure the loading speed of the first and second times a person visits your website to check if your cache is active (we’ll tell you about that in the next section). ?
When you click on each of the results, it gives you more specific data, such as each URL’s loading speed.
It also gives you a warning if it spots a server connection failure that could slow down your website.

✅ 5. Webpagetest

tiempo de carga web
The last tool on the list allows you to run a load speed test for a specific browser or mobile device.
Why exactly would that be of interest to you?
Well, imagine that 95% of your clients used Google Chrome or that most of them were iPhone users.
All that data is provided by Google Analytics.
Plus, Webpagetest also has most of the functionalities we’ve seen in the other tools, like region-based analysis and differentiated scores for mobile and desktop versions.

How can you improve your website’s load speed?

As we’ve seen, these tools can shed all kinds of light on ways you can improve your website. 
The downside is that most of them are difficult to make sense of if you’re not good at web programming.
No need to worry – to improve you website’s load time, you just need to take these four points into account.

✅ 1. Use high-quality web hosting

Choosing a service that guarantees high performance is crucial for your e-commerce to load faster.
But how do you know if you’re choosing wisely?
The most important aspect is that they use SSD disks.
SSDs are the types of disks that all (quality) hosting services are starting to implement since they’re much faster than conventional hard disks.
That said, their capacity is smaller, so contracting these hosts is usually a bit more expensive.
Considering the load speeds they can offer, our opinion is that they’re definitely worth the price. 😉
If you have any doubts, you can check the guide we published to help you choose the best hosting site.

✅ 2. Compress your images

Your e-commerce website is not Instagram – you don’t need to showcase your products in hi-res HD photos.
In fact, having too many heavy images is one of the factors that most contributes to slow load speeds in online shops.
That’s why it’s so important for all the media you upload to your site to be optimized.
You can do so with a range of free tools (such as Compressor.io and the like) that allow you to trim your image sizes without heavily affecting quality.
But what about those pictures that are already on your website?
If that’s the case, you can resort to a plugin like Image Optimizer.

✅ 3. Reduce the number of simultaneous active plugins 

Yes, we know you love plugins. 😉
However, having too many working at the same time will make your website load much slower.
Each active plugin means additional files that have to be processed by the server when loading your site, so make sure all of them are actually being used.
It’s normal for online shops to have 10 or 15 plugins active at the same time – or even more.
The key is to keep only those that are strictly necessary.
To slim down you website, you don’t have to uninstall the plugins that you don’t use often – you can simply deactivate them for the time being.

✅ 4. Activate you website’s cache

The cache is like a photo the browser takes from your website when it accesses it.
The thing is, if it has to access your website a second time, it loads it faster because the browser already has an image of what it’s going to find, so it doesn’t need to download all the elements from the server.
But for that to happen, you first need to activate your website’s cache.
We recommend that you use a specific plugin. The one with the most downloads is WP Fastest Cache, but there are more to choose from, like WP Rocket, or W3 Total Cache.

Ready to kick your website’s speed into high gear?

With these tips, there are no excuses for your site to keep loading at a turtle’s pace.
Start tracking your website’s load speed and you’ll see just how much of a difference it makes to your clients.
And let’s not forget – to your sales too. 😉