If your site produces content to generate revenue via advertising dollars, your site’s performance is of the utmost importance. Because your income is based on user impressions and click-throughs, keeping users on your site and keeping your site’s bounce rate low directly results in increased revenue. Whether you are a news producer like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, or a specialized content distributer like Food.com, you’re probably balancing the need to include the latest and greatest technologies while minimizing the amount of time it takes for your users to see rendered content. Here’s why that sometimes hard-to-find balance matters.
Measuring User Engagement
To determine the level of user engagement with your site, you would typically use one or more of the following metrics:
- Unique Visitors: the number of unique visitors to the site in a given time frame
- Page Views: the average number of pages viewed by a user during a given session
- Social Media Shares: the number of times a given piece of content is shared via social media networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter
- Ad Click-Throughs: the number of users that click on a given ad
- Time Spent on Site: the average length of time the user is active on the site
For all of the above metrics, your page’s performance matters. At the most basic level, a slow site leads to a high bounce rate, which leads to overall low levels of engagement: people will not visit additional pages, share their findings via social media, or click on ads they do not see. You may still get unique visitors, but they probably will not return at a later time or send other traffic to your site. In addition, performance matters when it comes to things like search engine optimization. How fast a web page responds to requests impacts where the site shows up in search results, and this ranking is crucial for generating new users who have otherwise not been directed to your site.
Impact of Poor Site Performance
One measure of how well a site performs from the perspective of the user is the bounce rate. Bounce rate is defined as the number of users that will abandon a website after visiting just one page.
Visitors aren’t loyal to sites, and they expect pages to load as quickly as possible. If not, they go elsewhere. If your site takes even four seconds to load, you have already lost 25% of your viewers. In addition, many users expect their experience with your site on their mobile devices to be comparable to, if not better than, that on a laptop or a desktop. This can throw a wrench into your site building and optimization process, since mobile devices typically run on slower networks.
In addition to negatively impacting user engagement, poor performance has a direct impact on the revenue generated by your site. In 2008, Amazon released a metric that, while somewhat outdated and sometimes contested, has become the benchmark for site performance: for every 100 milliseconds of latency, 1% of sales is lost. Given that, in 2015, Amazon earned $107 billion in revenue, this 1% adds up quickly. Similarly, you may be facing a similar rate of revenue loss due to poor page performance, and as such, improving your site correlates directly with increased income. This is especially true as advertising has become more and more prominent over the past few years.
In addition to the increased volume of advertising on web pages, advertising has moved beyond mere static images in banners to dynamic assets such as videos and other rich media, and all of these are more resource intensive and require greater amounts of time to load. In some instances, you may not have any control over the performance of ads, especially if they are loaded as external resources. If your vendor is unable to correct these issues, your only recourse might be to optimize your site that much more to compensate for the increase in lag.
With the increased load of ads on web pages, a lot of ads that are displayed do not get seen. The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) has defined a viewable ad as one that has at least 50% of its pixels in view of the user for at least one second. Ads that are above the fold are viewable 49% of the time, whereas ads that are located below the fold are viewable 30% of the time. Studies find that ads often never load, load too late to make an impression on the user, or do not appear due to page design issues (such as websites that haven’t been optimized for mobile devices).
All of these issues result in fewer clicks on advertisements, which leads to lower revenue for you. In addition to this, you might face tougher renegotiations with advertisers. Due to the lower hit rates, advertisers may attempt to compensate by demanding increased ad space or even move their ads to other sites. It’s a fine balance that you have to make, since performance is of utmost importance, yet the ads that bring in revenue for you can increase the latency of your site by up to 40%.
What You Can Do for Your Webpage
Performance matters for your webpage, and in order to maximize the revenue your site brings in, it is imperative that you display your rendered content to your visitors as close to instantaneously as possible. Users are neither loyal to your site, nor patient, and advertisers are asking more and more of your site in terms of resources. It can be difficult to find the balance between performance and delivering on the demands of your clients, but Rigor can help you optimize your site for the best possible performance.
In addition to custom changes that you can make to improve your site’s performance, you can contact Rigor for a free performance report containing customized information on ways you can get your site running as fast as possible.