Beyond the challenge of customers finding your website, there are many variables that need to be considered in ensuring you are maximizing your conversion (sales/leads from hits/traffic). Conversion is a pivotal component on your ROI – Return on Investment for internet marketing.
In this series of blog entries, I will present you with some tips to ensure that your website is generating the highest return on your marketing investment.
In this installment – I discuss the issue of website load time. When designing your website, you must take into consideration functionality and effectiveness when creating the sites elements. The “load time” (the time it takes for a visitor’s computer to gather your website’s information from the internet and present it on their screen) is often forgotten.
We often get carried away with the wiz bang appearance of rich media and complicated technology – forgetting the impact these have on the basic load time of our websites.
Remember back to the last time you tried to visit a website that took ages to load…you probably lost patience and closed the window, or gave up and tried a different website.
If that is happening to your website, you could be losing valuable customers who are unlikely to return in a hurry. The following elements are great starting points for helping to ensure your website is loading as quickly as possible.
Pictures and graphics are great for the appearance of a webpage, but also significantly increasing the loading time of a page. All images should be optimized for the web – whereby image quality is traded off against image file size. Them smaller the file size, the better. Most modern image manipulation programs will assist you with optimizing your graphics for the web.
When designing your website, try to avoid using large tables containing everything on the page. You are better served breaking your web page down into components or sections (navigation bar, logo, page segments) and using separate tables for each. This will assist in the load time for each section and visitors will be able to see the page appear gradually rather than a long pause before everything opens at once.
Flash & Rich Media
Though Flash and other rich media is extremely attractive and captivating, it can take a long time to load and provides no assistance in your search engine optimization strategies. If you are going to use such media, you should try to create a balance between basic HTML with lots of keyword rich copy and the rich media of your choice. This will ensure you achieve the best of both worlds, and the basic HTML content will load quicker, ensuring you captivate your visitor while the Flash or other content loads.
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
Creating cascading style sheets for your website can significantly assist with the load time of your webpage, not to mention reduce the amount of coding required. However, these cascading style sheets can be located externally and called upon form your webpage which will further improve the load time of your web pages.
When writing the code for your web pages, there are many tips and tricks to help the “load time”of your site. Many web designers forget to optimize their code when designing their sites. Not only should your code be optimized for keywords and search terms, to assist in search engine ranking, but the code itself can be streamlined to ensure links and other elements load quickly.
Site Hosting Location
No matter how fast your site may be, if you are not hosting your site physically close to where the majority of your customers are located, you are unneccesarily impacting the time to load your site. The time taken for the information to travel from your server to your user’s PC is called latency. This can not be eliminated altogether but it can be minimized but knowing where your customer base is. You can increase the size of your pipe (your server’s link to the internet) to assist increasing the amount of information that can get out there but this will not impact latency.
Checked your server logs lately? No, not to see when Google came and visited you last but to see what your CPU and memory utilization is? If these are high, it could indicate that your server is under powered and page requests not being dealt with as quickly as they could be. Consider replacing your aging server or better yet, increasing it’s capacity or even getting in a second web server.
These are just some of many elements that affect the speed in which your web page will load. In the cyber world – every milli second counts, so periodic review of your website’s load time should be conducted, especially if content on your site is changed regularly. Remember: fast loading times = higher conversion!
This article was written in conjunction with Rene LeMerle, ineedhits Online Marketing Specialist.