Why a Slow Website Is As Damaging As a Down Website

loading tabletEveryone knows that downtime is bad for business, or at least that unscheduled downtime is bad. At least when you have a schedule in place for website maintenance or upgrades, you have plenty of lead time to let users know that your site will be temporarily unavailable, and you can put up an “out of office” type placeholder so they know when to check back.

Your web host can also warn you in advance about its scheduled downtime so you can adequately prepare. Scheduled downtime is not the problem – it’s the unscheduled variety, especially when you don’t know it’s occurring, that can wreak havoc on your page rank and patronage.

The good news is that there are monitoring services available to help you track unscheduled downtime and make necessary changes to avoid it in the future. What you may not realize, however, is that slow loading times can be just as detrimental.

According to Kissmetrics, a website has only about 8 seconds maximum to catch a visitor’s attention before that visitor navigates elsewhere. In addition, an estimated 40% of visitors leave if a page doesn’t load within 3 seconds.

This is bad news if your site is running even a little slow. If you’re not yet tracking load times in addition to your site uptime, you need to know the potential damage being done so that you understand how serious slow loading times can be.

Visitors Can’t Reach You

I know what you’re thinking. Slow loading times aren’t as bad as downtime because visitors can still reach you if only they’re willing to wait a few second.

Unfortunately, a short attention span dominates modern web surfing, thanks to the instant gratification of pages that load almost immediately. In other words, slow loading is a major problem.

Your site might as well be suffering downtime if it takes longer than a few seconds for pages to load, because visitors are going to navigate elsewhere and the chances they’ll return after a perceived failure are slim to none. You will have lost prospective customers as surely as if you were suffering downtime.

Shoppers May Abandon Carts

Suppose that visitors to your site are willing to wait for pages to load, albeit slower than usual. Perhaps they have a genuine interest in products or services that only you offer or that are superior to your competitors. Or maybe they’re returning customers that have purchased from you in the past and they already have an established relationship with your brand.

The unfortunate truth is that they may have to go through several different pages in order to complete a purchase. Each time a page loads slowly, they are more and more likely to abandon their efforts.

By the time they reach the shopping cart, they may grow worried that their transaction won’t go through. Or they may simply give up. Considering how many shoppers abandon carts without making purchases anyway, it stands to reason that slow loading times could definitely impact sales.

Loyal Patrons May Lose Patience

Your loyal patrons have grown to appreciate your brand and your goods/services. They are therefore more likely to be forgiving if your site is running slowly. But even their patience is likely to have limits.

The great thing about loyal patrons is that they’re likely to check back in. However, if they encounter slow loading times over and over again, their interest in returning could definitely decrease.

Search Engine Penalties

Search engines like Google send out bots to check in on websites for the purposes of indexing and determining page rank. If your website is frequently down or loading times prevent search bots from completing their objectives, your page rank could definitely suffer as a result.

Don’t be shocked – search engines are running a business, too, one in which they provide the most relevant results for user queries. If your pages are consistently difficult to reach because of slow loading times, and visitors frequently navigate away, your rankings are likely to suffer.

Loss of Customers and Revenue

Slow loading times are going to impact your online operations and your business as a whole in a number of ways, but the overarching detriments include losing customers and losing revenue. Both are essential to sustaining your business, so it’s best to identify slow loading times and find ways to nip this critical issue in the bud.