Loading speed: why is it crucial for your website?

Through our SEO Agency Optimize 360.

on the Theme Technical SEO

La loading speed a website is a key factor influencing not only theuser experiencebut also its natural referencing (SEO).

In this article, we'll look in detail at the definition and challenges of loading speed.

Loading speed

Setting the loading speed

Loading speed refers to the time it takes for a web page to load completely on the visitor's screen, as soon as the browser sends a request for access. This criterion encompasses several elements such as :

  • Server response time
  • How long it takes to download page content (text, images, videos)
  • Code processing HTML, CSS and JavaScript by the browser

So the longer a page takes to load, the less efficient it is considered to be, both from the user's point of view and from that of the search engines.

The importance of loading speed for the user experience

User patience and bounce rate

Internet users are impatient, and their patience generally decreases with time. In fact, several studies have shown that a web user waits on average between **2 and 3 seconds** before leaving a site whose page has not yet finished loading. This impatience is all the more pronounced on mobile devices, where connection speeds can be limited.

This phenomenon has a direct impact on bounce rateThis is the percentage of visitors who leave a web page immediately after reaching it, without visiting any other pages on the site. A bounce rate that is too high is generally synonymous with a poor user experience and content that is unsuited to visitors' expectations.

Conversion and loyalty

The speed of loading also influences the rate of conversionThis is the ability of a site to encourage its visitors to carry out a specific action (purchase, subscription, request for a quote, etc.). A number of surveys have highlighted significant disparities in conversion rate between sites that are very fast and those with slower loading times.

Finally, user loyalty to a website or brand also depends on the quality of their online experience. Fluid, responsive navigation will improve customer satisfaction and encourage visitors to return regularly, increasing the likelihood of generating sales in the long term.

Impact of loading speed on search engine optimisation (SEO)

A criterion taken into account by search engines

Since 2010, Google has been taking into account the loading speed of web pages when establishing its rankings. The web giant believes that a quality user experience and a fast response time are essential criteria for offering relevant and effective sites.

Although this factor is not the only one taken into account by search engines (the quality of content, the reputation of the site and mobile compatibility are also important), it nevertheless helps to improve the relative position of a site compared with its competitors on key queries.

Mobile compatibility and indexing

Smartphones now account for more than 50 % of global Internet traffic, and this trend is set to grow. In response to these new consumer habits, Google has adopted a so-called "Mobile-first" strategy since 2018: optimisation for mobile devices is now an absolute must if you hope to rank well on the search engine.

However, mobile devices often have lower processing capacities than computers, and their connection speed can be limited. It is therefore crucial to pay particular attention to loading speed on these devices in order to offer an optimal user experience and avoid penalties in search result rankings.

How do you measure and improve loading speed?

There are several tools which allow you to test the loading speed of a website and obtain recommendations for improving it. Among the most popular are :

These tools analyse various aspects of a site's operation (server response time, image weight, code optimisation, etc.) and provide suggestions for speeding up page loading.

A few good practices

Here are some general recommendations for improving the loading speed of a website:

  1. Optimise images by reducing their size and using appropriate formats (JPEG, PNGWebP...)
  2. Minimising HTML, CSS and JavaScript code to reduce file size
  3. Set up a cache system to store a static version of pages and avoid dynamic generation on each visit
  4. Use gzip compression to reduce the amount of data exchanged between the server and the user
  5. Limit unnecessary plugins and extensions that can slow down the site

In conclusion, loading speed is a determining factor in the performance of a website, both in terms of user experience and natural referencing.

To ensure that you deliver fast, effective content to your visitors, it's important to pay particular attention to this criterion and keep up to date with the latest best practice in optimisation.

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