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Website Speed Optimization: Why Site Speed Matters

Slow service is a surefire way to upset people, and your website is no exception. People want information and they want it now. Poor site speed is a major issue for websites, affecting both user experience and SEO. So, it’s time to learn how site speed works, why it’s important, and what you can do to improve your website.

A blurred train speeding by, representing website speed.

What is Site Speed?

The speed of your website is a measurement of how long it takes for your website’s pages to load on someone’s browser. Site speed is a collective average of several pages on a site while page speed represents how quickly a specific page loads.

Measuring the speed of a page or entire site is simple – you can simply enter your URL of choice into online tools like PageSpeed Insights or Pingdom. These tools will analyze a different metrics to determine just how quickly your site loads for various users. These metrics include:

  • Core web vitals: A trio of key elements Google uses to assess user experience (and a ranking factor for SEO).
    • Largest contentful paint: How long it takes for a page’s main content to load.
    • Interaction to next paint: How quickly a site responds to user interactions.
    • Cumulative layout shift: How much your page layout shifts as the rest of page elements finish loading.
  • First contentful paint: How long it takes a page to load the first interactive element. This is also known as time to interactive (TTI).
  • Time to first byte (TTFB): How long it takes to load the very first byte of information on your page.

What Slows Down My Website?

While the above elements are used to measure speed, there are plenty of reasons why your site isn’t as quick as you’d like.

Page weight

The more resources you need to create a page, the longer it will typically take to load. Page weight, also known as page size, accounts for all the different files and resources that make up a page on your website. Common examples of page resources include:

  • HTML code
  • CSS
  • Images
  • Video
  • JavaScript
  • Third-party resources
  • Fonts

Think of a loading page as if you’re trying to carry a whole bunch of items – having bigger or more objects will likely take you a longer time to get everything to their destination. How much each resource will affect your site speed depends on what it is. For example, media files like images will typically add more weight than other resources.


Your hosting location will impact how quickly your pages load for different users. Different websites and hosted in various data centers across the country, and long distances can lead to longer load times. Data has to travel from one point to another, so users who are farther from your hosting location may have to wait a bit longer for your pages to load.

The network

Network connectivity can and will impact just how quickly your site delivers its resources. There are several factors that website developers can’t control that impact network conditions, such as people having slower connections or lesser local networking equipment. These differences will have some impact on your average site speed.

Why Should I Improve Site Speed?

A speedy site is good for business. People don’t like to wait, and a slow site is going to hurt your ability to succeed online. There are several reasons why you should try and improve your site speed.

User experience

What your users don’t see could hurt you.

Slow websites are not just an inconvenience, they're a usability concern. Does it matter how great your images are if they take 60 seconds to load? You may think so, but your users likely won’t stick around to make it matter.

The modern web is clogged with slow, resource-heavy sites that respond poorly for users. In return, those same users typically respond negatively to slow sites. Just check out these user experience statistics.

  • 47% of users won’t wait longer than two seconds for a website to load.
  • 88% of online users won’t return to a site after a bad experience.
  • 39% of people will stop engaging with a website if images won’t load or take too long to load.
  • Slow-loading websites cost retailers $2.6 billion in lost sales each year.
  • 83% of mobile users say that a seamless experience across all devices is very important.


Slow speeds do more than chase off initial users. Page speed also negatively affects the people who stick around on your site.

At some point, you’re going to want users to complete some form of desired action, such as a contact form, a download, or something else that can turn a user into a lead. Poor page speed makes it less likely that those users will take those actions. Research by Portent shows that:

  • Conversions rates drop by 4.42% for every second of load time up to five seconds.
  • B2B sites that load in 1 second have a conversion rate 3x higher than a site that loads in 5 seconds.
  • B2C sites that load in 1 second have an e-commerce conversion rate 2.5x higher than a site that loads in 5 seconds.


Your users aren’t the only people who like pages that load quickly. Our online overlords at Google name page speed as an official ranking factor for their search results. That means a quicker site can give you that boost when your business depends on organic traffic.

The connection between site speed and SEO isn’t a big surprise when you consider that Google is a business, and users are its customers. Google ultimately wants to give its users a better search experience, and a slow site isn’t a good look.

Data also supports the idea the slow sites are bad for SEO. Research conducted by Backlinko shows that the average page loading speed for a first page Google search result is 1.65 seconds. Furthermore, their research suggests that Google actively downranks slow pages. You don’t have to be the quickest site in the world for Google, but being below average can certainly hinder your digital marketing efforts.

What is an Ideal Page Speed?

The answer to that is simple – as quickly as possible. However, even the best websites don’t load instantaneously. Your site needs to be built out of something, so you’ll never be able to get rid of everything that will impact page weight and other site speed factors.

While you can’t make your site magically appear, there are general guidelines for good and bad site speeds. For reference, the average page speed is 3.21 seconds.

  • Ideal – 2 seconds or less.
  • Acceptable – 2 to 4 seconds.
  • Bad – More than 4 seconds.

How to Improve Site Speed

Worried that your website loads too slowly? Don’t fret, for all is not lost (especially when it comes to your users). Awareness of speed and rendering time has become a mandatory concern for focused developers, and there are plenty of potential website speed optimization opportunities you can try.

Optimize your images

Quality images can add to the user experience, but they also add a lot to your page weight. It can be tricky to balance the importance of good visuals and page speed, but there are ways to optimize images for your website.

  • Compress images to reduce file size.
  • Use the right image format.
    • WEBP is considered a next-gen image format and offers both great image compression and transparent backgrounds (without the size of a PNG).
    • JPEG is a good general option for optimization.
    • PNG are larger files that should be used if the image is knocked-out or transparent.
    • GIF is used for animated images.
    • SVG is used for vector images.
  • Make sure your images are responsive.

Add ‘Lazy-loading’

Lazy loading is a technique that defers the loading of an object on your page until the user is going to see it/need it. For example, images further down the page are not loaded until a user scrolls to that point on the page. This improves how fast the site feels to the user when they first get to the page and improves user experience.

Minify code

Code doesn’t have as big of an impact on file size as images, but it can still add some extra weight. It’s common for source code to have some unnecessary bloat – extra lines of code, unneeded commas, etc. If you can get rid of these characters without altering the functionality of your site, it’s a good idea to do it.

The process of removing this code, called minification, allows you to compress HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and shed some page weight (think of it like a “.zip file”). Minification can reduce file sizes by as much as 60% in some cases, although any improvement is helpful. Online tools such as Toptal’s CSS minifier can help make this process a lot easier.

When in doubt, ask your web development team about minifying.

Reduce file requests

File requests are a normal part of loading a web page, but those requests impact your page speed. A request is a protocol used to relay information from a client to a server, such as images, text, or third-party resources. A lot of that information is necessary, but too many requests will bog down your page and site speed.

Reducing file requests is simple to understand. If your web page has to go out and ask for 50 different things from the server, wait for the server to respond, then still download each of of those assets and load it into the page – well, that is going to take longer than if there were only 25 requests.

According to Backlinko, the number of HTML requests had the greatest impact on TTFB for mobile users, and desktop gets hit pretty hard as well. That’s a problem given that the average website has 70 requests. Here are some things you can do to reduce your pages' requests.

  • Review your requests and remove any that aren’t either essential or important enough to make a meaningful difference.
  • Use tactics like combining CSS files together and having JavaScript files at the same time to speed up requests.
  • Enable browser caching to allow users’ browsers to store elements like images and CSS files so that they don’t require as many requests on a return visit.
  • Reduce the number of redirects required for your website.

Audit your Google Tag Manager (GTM)

Google Tag Manager often gets overlooked because many people just consider it a marketing tool for tracking analytics and conversions but GTM is known among web developers as a main suspect when diagnosing page speed issues.

It’s not done maliciously, but marketing teams will often add script upon script and tag upon tag to a website’s GTM. Each one of those tags adds requests and download time (especially if they aren’t minified).

Teams need to audit their GTM regularly and make sure only the necessary tags and scripts are being used.

Consider a new hosting solution

If your hosting provider is a drag on your site speed, it might be time to weigh your options. There’s only so much you can do to control hosting issues, but you can evaluate different providers to see which one is best for your user experience.

You’ll need to balance site speed along with your budget and other key criteria, of course. However, moving away from an overloaded server can make a difference when you’re trying to improve site performance.

Consider dedicated hosting, load, balancing, and the use of CDNs to improve your hosting performance.

Create a plan for improving website speed

Site speed optimization isn’t a one-day event. It takes time and effort to tackle all the challenges that can slow down your site. Create a plan that breaks down all the different action items that you need to do and when you need to do them. This can help you organize your site speed optimization efforts and keep you on track for success.

Your initial optimization efforts are only the beginning. Addressing the need for speed is an ongoing process that requires regular adjustments to ensure optimal user performance.

  • Keep testing your website. Crate a schedule to test your site speed every so often so that you can make changes when needed.
  • Set a performance budget. Site speed optimization is an investment. Make sure that you dedicate some budget toward the work and tools it takes to improve and maintain your site speed.
  • Work with a partner. Site speed optimization is a lot of work, but you don’t need to do it alone. A website development agency can help you leave that work to the experts and save you time.

Have additional questions about your website or applications speed? Whether you’re working on a redesign or need to improve your existing site, we can help. Talk to Aztek today to learn how we can support your business’ digital marketing efforts.

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