GROW YOUR GARDENING BUSINESS – THE IMPORTANCE OF WEBSITE SPEED AND PERFORMANCE
In our seventh instalment of our ‘Growing Your Gardening Business’ series, we’re going to explore the importance of website speed and performance and explain why this is so important.
As the owner of Jackson Garden Services, a Plymouth-based gardening and landscaping company, I have successfully grown my gardening business and gained a strong client base in the process using a combination of direct and indirect marketing (both online and offline). Since I started the company in 2018, we’ve gone from being a small, fledgling business to a successful and popular company with a small team and strong client base, due to a combined approach of working hard, being great at what we do and having a successful and useful approach to marketing the business.
This time, we’re focusing on website speed and performance and how it’s actually really important in attracting visitors, keeping them on the website and converting visits into sales, customers and growing your online audience.
WHY SPEED MATTERS
We’ve all been there; you’re searching for something on Google and you stumble across a search result that looks pretty interesting. You click through to visit the website and disaster – the website is so slow to load; you can’t even view the information you’re interested in! What would you do next, remain on the site and wait for the content to load or leave the website and search for something else? It’s probably the latter, right? If that sounds like you, then you’re not in the minority, as 40% of people will abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. If your website takes longer than that to load, you’ll lose an even larger proportion of your traffic. This is a huge amount of traffic to lose, particularly considering that there are a lot of things you can do to improve upon website speed and performance.
You may think that your logo, nicely designed website or well-written copy would be the perfect way to make a great impression on-site visitors, but the first impression you make on a visitor is actually your site speed. If your website loads quickly on all device types, you’re sure to make a strong impression on site visitors, as speed is inexorably linked to efficiency which feeds into trust, confidence and professionalism. Slow websites make consumers worry about safety, security and trustworthiness, which aren’t concerns you’d ever want to be associated with your business. Modern consumers expect fast loading times regardless of the device they’re using, to gain immediate and instant answers to queries and if your site can’t deliver this, it’s game over and the user will go elsewhere.
With this in mind, there are plenty of things you can do to speed up your website and improve the length of time people spend on your website. For example:
- Make sure you’ve resized and compressed all images on your website to shave time off page load speed. The smaller the file size, the faster they’ll load! There are plugins that you can install on your website that can help with image compression.
- Use external hosting platforms like YouTube or Vimeo to embed your video content and save space on your server and cut down on load time.
- Reduce the number of plugins you’re using on your site, as too many plugins can make websites run sluggishly. Carefully consider what you’re using on your website and offload any plugins that you’re no longer using.
- Make sure your hosting server is suitable for your businesses needs and can cope with the number of visits your website attracts.
It’s worth noting that if your website was built using a theme or a template, it can sometimes run a little slowly due to in-built theme features that can delay load speed slightly.
If you’re a little more au-fait with web development, there are plenty of more technical ways you can speed up your website. Sites like Moz provide a valuable, step by step guide to other ways to speed up your site. You can check your site speed on Page Speed Insights, a free to use Google tool.
We’ve covered the ways in which slow websites impact upon website users, but they can also have a detrimental effect on performance in search engines. As Google uses site speed as one of their many ranking factors, website load speed also affects your website’s appearance in search engine page results. They factor site speed into their ranking signal algorithm, as slow websites impact heavily on user experience and can make visitors spend less time on the website and increase the bounce rate. In short, slow websites simply won’t rank as well as their faster counterparts.
WEBSITE PERFORMANCE, ACCESSIBILITY AND FUNCTIONALITY
Now you know the importance of website speed and the ways in which you can work to improve it, it’s time to discuss website performance. Website performance is closely tied to site speed, but also encompasses wider usability issues. Things like broken links, ‘unclickable’ phone numbers, an improperly set up contact form and no links to your social media platforms create a barrier for site users and require them to do more work to source the information they’re seeking. Because the modern consumer has a very short attention span and an even shorter tolerance for investigating information themselves, it’s crucial to ensure your site has everything people may need all in one place and functioning correctly. It’s a good idea to audit your website (or ask a friend or relative to do this with fresh eyes) and see whether you have any performance issues. If you pick something up, fix it! Check in on your website regularly to make sure that any external links you’ve got on your site (i.e. to industry boards, to suppliers or to your social media channels) are still in full working order.
Check back next time for our eighth edition, focusing on ways of getting to know your customer and how this can impact on conversions. In the meantime, you can connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Linked In; I’m always happy to chat!