Speed Matters! How A Slow Website Impacts Business

Joe: Welcome to the Being Found Show. I am Cloud Wise Joe here with my co-host Chauncey Haworth. We are going to help you be found by more buying customers.

We are going to jump right into our two-minute tip. Yes, it will probably take us 15 minutes to explain the two-minute tip. So maybe this means you can do this tip in two minutes. Our two-minute tip is to check the speed of your web pages. We’re going to talk about how to do that and why that matters, first I want to tell a story.

A lot of what we talk about here is stuff that we see happening during the week. For the past two weeks, we have been working with a client whose traffic has been plummeting. One of the things you’ve found, Chauncey, turned out to be one of the big reasons that the traffic was plummeting. So this is an e-commerce client, and they’re very aggressive. They watch their sales every day as they should. We all watched their web stats every day, and we are watching their traffic plummet. We don’t know what changed. We didn’t change anything. So we’re going through all kinds of tests because it matters.

Something has happened and we looked at is as a Google Algorithm update, which that might have been part of it. We are asking ourselves if some other competitor came in with incredible new content or knocked them down on keywords; we are wondering what happened. Just to underline the importance of the story, if you do have a website or if you’re a business and you’re thinking about a website, just stop and listen for a second because even I get caught up or surprised at how much the little things make a difference. This is a world where little things make big differences. So we’re going through, we have like 90 things we check off on our checklists, and one of the things we realized was that the pages on the website were slow. So what does that mean?

Well, that means it’s slow for a user to load on a user’s phone or their computer, you know, you’ve all done it. Like you go to a website, and it just won’t open. So what do you do? You leave, and you go to another website. Well, so that’s what was happening. So why did it slow down? Because we didn’t change anything. The question is before we go any further if it was the page speed that was slow and users didn’t like it, why would it show up lower in rankings? Why were we getting less traffic? The quick answer to that is because Google wants you to be fast because its customers want to go too fast sites.

So as we are watching the traffic continue to drop, and now we’re trying to figure out what slowed it down. But here’s the crazy thing, there were some things we could do to optimize images, some standard things, but here is what turned out to be the problem. Chauncey found that somebody had decided that in the menu they wanted to have an image for every brand in the drop-down, right? You know, how you hover over an image and you click on it, and it’ll drop down a list to click on menu items when in this case they wanted the menu items to be the logos of the brands. So what did that mean? Well, that meant the header at the top of that page had to load 40 images before it could load the page. Fixing that one thing sped the site up. It increased its speed by 10 seconds.

What happened was one of the people that work there had decided that adding those lists would be a good idea and didn’t tell us they were doing it. I would say that’s one of the things I see happen most is somebody thinks, “let’s add this page” or “we took a picture of the founder near his sailboat so let’s put him on the homepage.” What you don’t realize is when you add it to the website, there’s impact on how Google is going to crawl it and how it is going to display.

Chauncey: Also, how people are going to perceive it and how it will aid in conversion or how it will hurt them as well.

Joe: I’m glad you brought that up because that was another thing that came up as one of our clients said, hey, I want to put product videos on every product page. I said that might work, but they have 6,000 products. Do they know how this will impact conversion and whether or not this will aid in the sale of the product? How do they know if they have the right amount of content or if something needs to be added or removed?

They said that they have a pretty good conversion rate. Well, I probably wouldn’t put videos on every single product then because that video actually might talk someone out of buying. It seems like videos are a good idea and everyone loved videos so we should put them on each product. It doesn’t mean it will help them sell anything.

When we recognized what they had done to make their page as slow as it was, as soon as we took away those components, we knew they were only hurting sales because of the 10 seconds longer took to load the page.

A couple of other little things were fixed, and now rankings are going back up, traffic is starting to come back, and sales are coming back almost immediately, give or take a lag of a couple of days.

Chauncey: I have one question. Do I get any credit for this?

Joe: Yeah. I have a Chauncey stamp that I put on everything. We were in need of your help, and you could tell that these lists could be the problem. I doubted it, but when we fixed that and a few other things and came back to check, we realized you had it down. The page is now loading within three seconds. They were loading for six to seven seconds for some pages while others were taking 13 to 15 seconds. You want a page loading and the 2-3-second range because that’s about all someones going to wait.

The summary of our long story is that if you’re blissfully sitting there with a website or you have recently made any changes to your website, and you’re wondering if you’re getting as many clients as you could, or you wondering if you’re being found as much as you should, this is a tip you have to take.

I just watched how important this is to a site. They were losing thousands of views, which is not a small amount and now with a few changes, they are going back up. Now how can you check how your site is doing?

Well, in Google Analytics, which every business owner with a website should be logged into and checking on, go to a tab on the left called “behavior” and click on something called “speed suggestions,” and that speed suggestion is going to tell you what speed all your pages are. When you click on a page, Google will tell you how to fix it.

Right in your Google Analytics, you can find something as crucial as this. If you are not on top of this, it will hurt you in the long run. I’ve never seen a site that it’s not hurting if somebody is not paying attention to it because it gets out of whack that easy. Chauncey, maybe you could help us understand why speed is so important.

Chauncey: Well, one good way would be for you and me to sit here quietly for 15 seconds and see how many people change the station because I don’t think people realize exactly how long 15 seconds is. 15 seconds is a long, long time to wait. With page speed, of course, every second that goes by, people are less likely to convert. They like you less, they trust you less. They are less likely to buy your products and services.

Joe: What is it that makes traffic? If I, as a consumer, show up to your site and it’s slow, and I don’t like it, but our traffic is dropping because Google is sending fewer people to our site because they are lowering our ranking, what is happening there?

Chauncey: So there are two ways that can happen. One is that a bunch of people came there, didn’t like it, and they bounced, and Google said, all right, we’re not going to serve this up anymore. The other is that there’s a suspected algorithm update where Google is now indexing showing search results for mobile results even on the desktop. So speed has become hugely important in whether or not you’re going to show up first and foremost. So that’s a lot of what was happening right there was where we were lowering rank.

Joe: It’s a good end of the story, but it was three weeks of every day troubleshooting what had happened. Now, if you have a website or you’re going to have a website, and it’s important enough that my entire team troubleshot this problem for three weeks, found the problem, fixed it, and it started going up, you need to be doing the same thing. If someone’s not at least looking at this for you, I guarantee it’s hurting you. It’s so important, and it happens so fast. Log into your Google Analytics and take a look at what is going on because it will benefit you.

Thank you for listening to this segment of the Being Found Show, to hear the full show listen here: Being Found Show Episode #49 or subscribe to our podcast.