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Whether developing a website for your business or on behalf of a client, it’s imperative that it is designed with both human users and search engine crawlers in mind. As such, the formula for online success will include many elements – perhaps none are as important as site speed.

When looking to introduce enhanced ecommerce tracking and website analytics, site speed should be one of the top metrics on your agenda. This simple guide will help you learn more about what it is, why it matters, and how to ensure that your site meets the desired requirements.

What exactly is site speed?

The term site speed is one that simply defines the amount of time it takes for webpages to load whenever a user visits your website. In today’s climate, this should cover the time it takes user’s to load up your website on both desktop and mobile browsers.

For a webpage to successfully load, it will complete the following steps;

  • The initial request is made,
  • The request reaches the server,
  • Web codes are executed,
  • HTML requests reach the browser,
  • HTML requests are processed,
  • DOM Content Loaded event,
  • Page is rendered and loaded.

Despite the vast volumes of data that are transmitted between the server and the user’s device, the whole process should occur very quickly. In fact, most webpages load within 10 seconds for desktop users, although modern ecommerce analytics show that yours should aim to load far quicker. 

Web owners can use a range of web tools to run site speed tests as a part of their enhanced ecommerce tracking strategy. In many cases, the results will identify areas of improvement too.

Why should business websites load fast?

The modern consumer is more demanding than ever before, not least when it comes to their need for speed. A slow service inside a store would probably discourage them from revisiting and the same sentiment rings true for online interactions. In fact, over half of all web users would abandon their session and move to a different website if their webpage failed to load within 3 seconds!

Further stats that highlight the importance of site speed in website analytics and ecommerce tracking include, but are not limited to;

  • Decreasing load times by 0.1s can improve the bounce rates on landing pages by over 8%, as well as by over 5% on product listing pages.
  • Around two-thirds of all consumers admit that site speeds will influence their decision whether to buy from a brand.
  • Even between seconds 1 to 3, the probability of bouncing from a webpage increases by over 32%.
  • A one-second delay in site speed can reduce conversions by an average rate of up to 7%.
  • A one-second delay will reduce the average user satisfaction level by 16% and page views by 11%.

Consequently, then, site speed can influence everything from traffic to bounce rates, conversions, and customer satisfaction. For a store that generates $100,000 of sales per day, a single second of delay can cost the company over $2.5m per year

When added to the fact that it is one of the top metrics used on the SERPs for both mobile and desktop searches, achieving faster web loading times should be a priority in your ongoing ecommerce web analytics processes. Unnecessary delays could undo a lot of the work achieved in other areas of web development.

So, what are the key elements of site speed?

If you are going to improve your site speed so that webpages load within 3 seconds (or ideally in under 2 seconds), you must understand the features that can impact the site’s performance. A quality ecommerce analytics platform will provide guidance, but it is still important to familiarize yourself with the key metrics. They are detailed below:

Web host

None of the steps taken by a web developer can compensate for a poor web host. After all, the only thing worse than a site that loads slowly is one that won’t load at all. If you wish to avoid network latency, you will want to use a web host that has its data stored in a location that is near to the user or, better still, in a decentralized spot. It is also necessary to know that the site can handle large volumes of traffic without major disruptions. A good web host will actively boost your SEO too. 

Page weight

If you’re thinking “websites don’t weigh anything”, you are probably guilty of overlooking the impact that different webpage elements can have. Video content, large JavaScript files, CSS files, background audio, and HD images will all slow down the loading process as the browser tries to upload all items at once. There are several ways to reduce the page weight, such as using image compressions for smaller file sizes and progressive ‘load page on scroll’ features. The right ecommerce analytics platform dashboard will enable you to make the necessary updates for faster load times.

Network conditions

Not all elements of site speed management are under the developer’s control. The user’s local network systems and ISPs will have a huge role to play. For example, a 5G connection is going to load websites faster than a 3G connection while the strength of a WiFi signal has a huge impact too. Even so, using minification and CDNs as well as compression techniques will help combat this issue.

What site speed attributes should you focus on?

When opening an ecommerce analytics dashboard, you will have many tools at your disposal. If you want to see the full benefits of making site speed a key part of your marketing strategy, though, you will need to focus on the following features:

  • Load time. This is the amount of time it takes for the HTTP request to be fulfilled. 
  • Page size. This is the total size of all content and elements on the page and how long it takes for browsers to load them.
  • Time To First Byte. The TTFB is how long it takes for the browser to load the first byte of data on a page.
  • Round Trip Time: The RTT is how long it takes for requests to complete the cycle of data traveling from the device to the server (request) and back.

There are other key issues to look at such as the variance in speeds on browser and mobile, as well as the number of round trips required. When these features are in good health, your site will load faster. In turn, everything from SEO to conversions and customer satisfaction levels will soar.

To learn more about the best ecommerce tracking and analytics infrastructure, get in touch today.

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