Winning at ecommerce is literally a race as of Google’s algorithm change in July that made site speed a ranking factor in mobile search. Research shows that 53% of visitors will abandon a mobile website if it takes longer than three seconds to load and that a one-second delay in load times has been linked to 7% fewer conversions.
What gets overlooked, however, is that slow sites don’t just lead to fewer conversions because of impatient customers. Long load times also compromise search engine rankings, traffic, and ROI from search engine marketing (SEM).
In response to consumer demand, Google has been working to develop a faster internet. The July change in the rankings algorithm is one example. Nearly half of retailer website traffic comes from organic search, making Google the kingmaker of ecommerce. When Google changes its algorithm, ecommerce executives should pay attention.
If ecommerce companies want to be visible to new customers, they must be fast enough to preserve their search rankings.
Sites that don’t load fast will slide down the ranks, giving lightning-fast sites a potential opportunity to rise through the ranks, leading to more visibility, traffic, conversions, and revenue. In fact, a study by digital marketing consulting firm Stone Temple revealed that while both publishers and ecommerce sites that optimize their mobile site speeds see SEO gains, ecommerce sites saw a stronger impact resulting in a 32.1% increase in organic traffic. Considering the amount of traffic that comes from organic search, that’s a hue boost.
Site speed is more important than ever before. It’s not a performance metric—it’s the difference between success and failure. In addition to increased organic traffic, here are four ways that faster site speed can affect an ecommerce company’s top-line and bottom-line growth:
1. Remaining Visible to New Customers
Google is famously guarded about how it creates search rankings, so it’s noteworthy that the company was forthcoming about penalizing websites with slow-loading mobile experiences. Slow sites cannot expect to stay in the same position of search results no matter how optimized they are otherwise. And considering that the first five results receive 67.6% of all clicks, being close to the top is critical. If ecommerce companies want to be visible to new customers, they must be fast enough to preserve their search rankings.
2. Keeping Ad Costs as Low as Possible
Faster sites are rewarded with a higher quality score, ultimately resulting in lower costs per click. Digital marketing channels remain as vibrant as ever, and worldwide ad spending is projected to grow by 4.6% in 2019. With nearly half of mobile ad spend in the latter half of 2018 coming from ecommerce, companies that pay less per click will have a competitive advantage.
3. Staying Current With Industry Standards
Longer load times lead to fewer conversions, but “longer” is a relative term. Any site that loads slower than the fastest mobile sites seems deficient by comparison. New development technologies such as single-page apps, progressive web apps, and accelerated mobile pages let you build a site that loads in the blink of an eye, creating a standard for speed that everyone else in ecommerce must follow.
4. Boosting Positive Brand Perception
Load times have a huge impact on the customer experience and, by extension, customers’ perceptions of a brand. Plus, according to mobile product marketing expert Luke Wroblewski, waiting for a site to load is more stressful than watching a horror film. The immediate impact of slow load times might be a lost visit or purchase, but the long-term impact is a negative image that slowly kills sales and customer perception of your brand. Some leading retailers, such as Venus Fashion, are doing the opposite, creating websites that are so impossibly fast that they rival the rich visual experience of being in a store.
Site speed is the new competitive battleground for ecommerce companies, thanks to consumer demand and Google’s recent updates. Faster-loading websites gain more search visibility, traffic, conversions, and ROI from search marketing; the decision to join the race toward instant-loading sites should be a no-brainer. Many ecommerce executives are making big improvements. Are you?