What is Page Speed and Why Does it Matter for Your Veterinary Website?

  • 7 min read

People live increasingly busy lives, which means that they don’t have the time or desire to sit still waiting for your veterinary web page to load. Just like sluggish service in a restaurant will result in fewer customers, slow page speed and loading times of your veterinary website can result in customer frustration, lowered lead conversion, and even low search engine result rankings.

Why website speed matters

Page speed is how long it takes for a website to complete loading on a user’s browser. Most people expect almost instantaneous page loads, especially as these websites tend to feel more responsive and polished. When people seek out the services of your veterinary clinic, is it going to take them a ton of time to find the information?

How does site speed affect conversions?

If you’ve spent a lot of time getting pet owners to visit your web page as part of your digital marketing and veterinary marketing strategies, the last thing you want is for them to leave in disappointment. One of the largest factors in bounce rate – or the rate at which potential clients close the site without accomplishing their goal – is page loading speed.

A study by SolarWinds in 2018 confirmed this unofficial benchmark, showing that 53% of users would bounce if websites took longer than seven seconds in loading time. Nothing affects a user experience more than having to wait a long time to visit the web pages they want to see, so site speed truly does matter for businesses.

According to Google, sites should focus on keeping load speeds below two seconds. Page speed is important to Google analytics, so loading times over two seconds get penalized in the Google search engine algorithm. If you’re trying to optimize your site for Google SEO purposes, site speed is an important ranking algorithm factor to keep in mind to rank higher on Google.

This direct link between site performance and conversion rates should be enough to realize that speed is vital and that every second counts. There’s a lot of breathing room between the benchmark of two seconds and seven seconds, but overall, fast-loading veterinary websites tend to do better with Google and attract more users. They also present a professional business appearance, which helps with brand reputation and customer trust. Clients will be even more likely to bring their pets to you for your veterinary services.

Google Page Speed Insights

Factors that influence page load time

Network

Even if you’ve spent time designing the fastest page on the web, you’re still subject to parameters outside of your control. The visitor may be on a lagging network, have a poor ISP, or be using 3G on their mobile device. Large amounts of traffic can also slow down page load time and reduce website speed.

While you can’t directly control ISP and network speeds, you can keep these practices in mind when designing an SEO- friendly webpage.

Hosting location and provider

Information may travel fast, but it still takes time to get from one location to the other. If you have a hosting provider with a server across the continent, you’ll experience higher latency than with one in your backyard affecting your page speed.

Luckily, advances in technology have increased the average speed in the US so that domestic location doesn’t matter as much as it used to. You may notice a small difference in latency between East and West coast locations, but these differences are often negligible. However, if you have a website in Canada, you should consider having a hosting solution in the same area for the best page experience for each user visit.

Also, make sure that you’re getting full speed from your web host. Cheaper packages often offer space on a shared service, which means that you’re subject to the amount of traffic that other sites get, as well as your own. If you’re sure you’ve optimized the performance of your site and are still getting poor load speeds, consider spending a bit more on your host.

Page weight

Website size has a dramatic impact on website speed. Size refers to large, data-hungry components like videos, large image files in high-definition, and a poorly optimized back-end. While your website may look great when you load it on your desktop device, it may take much longer to load on mobile devices.

When it comes to web design, it’s tempting to go full out on pretty images and novel graphics. However, every one of these website elements can add weight to your site, making your pages take too long to load. You need to ensure that your total page weight, including images and files, doesn’t result in a slow website that frustrates more than it entertains.

Help your site do what it’s meant to do: inform your clients of the services you provide and give them ways to contact you. Mucking up your site with too much weight keeps people from getting what they need will keep your marketing and Google SEO efforts at a stalemate.

How to improve website speed

Improve server response time

Server response time consists of:

        The amount of traffic to your website

        Server software and performance

        Web provider solution

        The resource use of your site

Ideally, you want a response time of under 200 ms. If you can’t get that, analyze potential bottlenecks, like inadequate host capacity, too many concurrent users or browser caching, lack of adequate memory, and slow database queries.

Use a CDN

Running a website can be especially challenging since you need to account for users in various locations accessing your site. If you want to provide every user with the same experience and load speed, you’ll need to have multiple servers for multiple sites or use a CDN.

A CDN, or content distribution network, distributes server load between various locations. Your site information gets stored on multiple internet servers, meaning that your load speed remains the same no matter where your users are.

Reduce redirects

You may have an amazing response time on your page, but the end-user experience is one of a slow website if you have too many redirects. For instance, if you have a mobile redirect set up, your users may have to go through three load cycles before getting to their desired endpoint. Consider trying to minimize redirects and help your clients get to your site directly from results pages.

Optimize your code

Optimizing your code should be a best practice in any business site. Optimized websites will have a faster page speed regardless of browser, devices, or network speed. They will also use fewer resources and less data, saving you a lot of money if your webpage is incredibly popular.

One way to optimize code is to use Gzip to compress your larger files. You can also remove comments, unnecessary characters, and formatting on your page and ensure that it’s as streamlined as possible. The fewer resources used the faster the site’s page speed.

Important metrics

While it may seem easy to measure page speed loading time with a simple speed test, some nuances can influence the ranking of your website. Google considers the full visitor experience, including how pages load, wait time, and differences between being mobile friendly and formatted for desktop.

These can affect Google’s SEO search rankings and conversions, so it’s a good idea to keep track of them. Google Analytics offers a great breakdown of your website’s metrics for free. Optimizing your website is a critical part of your digital marketing strategy when it comes to ensuring your website converts potential leads quickly.

Need help with a website audit to work on your page speed? Contact us! Our team has extensive knowledge and experience building veterinary websites and can help you determine the best practices to create a stellar experience that will help your pet care business thrive and build more revenue.