The performance of your website is directly tied to the revenue you get from it. It’s a multiplication of all the work you’ve put into it. The faster your site, the more money you earn from it.

The good thing is, you have a direct influence over the performance of your WordPress website. You can make it faster by yourself, but it’s a relatively specialist task. So it could make sense to hire someone like me, who specializes in making things fast.

How many resources should you invest? It depends on the type of site. If you are running an e-commerce store, you will naturally invest more than into a one-pager about your local freelance business.

The speed of your site is a money multiplicator

Allow me to describe the ways in which the performance of your WordPress site multiplicates the effort and energy you invest in your site. It’s done through these mechanisms.

Engagement of visitors

Every visitor has a limited timebank they are willing to spend on your site. The faster your site is, the more actions they can do within their timebank. When they enjoy browsing your site, they can even increase the size of their timebank (deciding to spend more time on your site).

If the website is too slow, your visitors will be frustrated. They’ll figure out that finding information is too costly and they will leave.

We can define a minimum viable engagement speed, which is a site speed which does not frustrate yur visitors . If you do not reach the minimum viable engagement speed, then you will lose your visitors. It also lowers the value of your content and wastes the energy you’ve put in.

Every website has its own minimum viable engagement speed value, which can be defined as “browsing this site does not frustrate me”. From a business perspective, this is the speed which your site should have, no matter what.

Enhanced trust

This is more about the perception of your site in the eyes of your visitors. If your site is under the minimum viable engagement speed, then it brings them a negative experience and it will not be perceived as trustworthy.

On the other end of this spectrum, there is Netflix, which is lighting fast! Every time I open the application, I’m amazed. This increases my feeling of trust. So when you reach “trust enhancing speed” – when your site is significantly faster than your competitors – it leads to an increase in trust among your visitors.

The middle of the spectrum, between “minimum viable engagement speed” and “trust enhancing speed” has a neutral impact on trust.

SEO Rankings

This theory is based on incomplete information and educated guesses, but it still makes perfect sense to me.

First piece of information: Google has its own comprehensive application, which evaluates the speed of your website – Google Pagespeed Insights (https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/).

Second argument – Google wants to provide their users with the most relevant data possible. The mobile / desktop search ratio is stabilized at 60% / 40%. When you are browsing on your mobile phone, you usually have a smaller timebank, than on your desktop computer. With a smaller timebank you also require better minimum viable engagement speed.

Third argument – Google provides the free Google Analytics tool, but it also collects the data from this tool. You can clearly see, there is a relation between faster pageload times and smaller bounce rates.

Based on the arguments above, we can say that Google wants to serve their users the sources which will allow them to find the information they are looking for, in the best quality and in the shortest amount of time. We can make some guesses here:

  1. If your site is loading below the minimum viable engagement speed, then your content is not top-notch, relative to others, and you will not rank well.
  2. If two sites have content of a similar quality, then they will compete on the speed of their site. If you have the faster site, the user will be able to find the information they are looking for in a shorter amount of time. So your faster site will rank better on Google.

Better conversion rates

Multiple sources suggest that, with every 1 second of prolonged loading time, you lose approx 7% of your conversion rate. If you think about it, it perfectly fits into the criteria I’ve defined above.

If you have a lightning fast website, then:

  • Your visitors are able to find the product they want
  • They are not frustrated
  • They trust your brand
  • Other websites feel the same, so they are more open to crediting you with a link
  • Search Engines will prefer you in the pool of websites with a similar content quality

This is perfectly aligned with the Matthew effect:

For to him who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

Parable of the Talents

We are still working with incomplete information, but let me give you some examples. Say you have an ecommerce store, with revenue of $100k per year. On average, the improvement of the loading time by 1 second should bring you extra $7k of revenue per year. So if you shave off 2.5 seconds, it translated to $17.5k of additional yearly revenue.

If your marginal costs are 20% for digital goods, you could earn an extra $14k profit per year just by having your WooCommerce store properly optimized. If the marginal costs are 80% for physical goods, it’s still $3.5k of extra profit per year.

How to think about the performance of your WordPress site

There is a pool of improvements, which can be applied to your WordPress site to gain a better performance. Applying improvements to your site is bound up with some costs. You have to evaluate which improvements will bring you enough value to justify the costs.

The foundation of a performing WordPress site is having the right hosting provider. This makes up to 50% of your speed gains. I’ve written a comprehensive guide on how to choose the right WordPress hosting provider. This should give you a pretty good idea of what to ask for and I would recommend having solid WordPress hosting, no matter what kind of site you are running.

Let me introduce a metric of speed sensitivity for your site and create 3 categories of sites. Each one of these categories has a different speed sensitivity:

Small business websites

The site is usually a one-pager or just a few pages long. It takes into account the fact that the visitors already somehow know your business and they just want to gain some practical info. Like what services you are offering, or the opening time of your store.

Visitors to such a site would be searching for specific terms, like “watchmaker Cambridge” or your brand name. They are looking specifically for you, so your target here is to not to scare them with an ugly and slow website.

Minimum viable engagement speed: Low – the visitors will be going through a few pages only. They are usually trying to figure out if you offer the service they want. Or how to contact you and where your shop is.

Website speed sensitivity: Low – the business transaction is not made through your website. No-one is also expecting wonder here. Rather, visitors value clearly stated information: opening times, phone number, address and services.

Recommended actions:

  • Do not stress yourself with the Google Pagespeed or GT Metrix scores
  • Use a proper WordPress hosting environment
  • Install a proper caching plugin, like the WP Rocket

Medium business websites

I place my website in this category. My ambition is to rank in the search engines, attract visitors through them and conduct business through my site, by visitors hiring me.

I need to look trustworthy in the eyes of my visitors and the more actions they perform on my website, the more revenue I’ll get. The faster my site is, the more economical revenue I’m getting. I can (and have to) afford to invest more than the small business owner.

But still, I won’t be using any advanced optimization techniques for WordPress, like MySQL DB Optimization.

Minimum viable engagement speed: Medium to High – it depends on how competitive your area is. But the faster site, the more visitors you’ll get and the more pages they will browse. Both metrics will translate into bigger revenue

Website speed sensitivity: Medium – you can utilize most tricks here and I would definitely start with choosing the right WordPress hosting, because this generates up to 50% of your website speed. Then you can use the Google Lighthouse Pagespeed tracker to figure out, which steps you should make.

Recommended actions:

  • Aim for a better Pagespeed score or GT Metrix score
  • Migrate to a proper WordPress hosting environment
  • Install a proper caching plugin, like WP Rocket
  • Configure caching properly
  • Play with JS and CSS files
  • Give your site some time and love
  • If you struggle with this and would like to get some help, you can post a project for me.

WooCommerce stores

Since you are actually selling goods, no matter whether physical or digital, you are the most sensitive to the speed of your site. Your visitors are using your website to actually conduct a transaction, not just to gain information. So not only are you competing for the trust of your visitors, but also for their attention.

It makes sense to utilize the whole battery of options, like MySQL DB Optimization, installing varnish, configuring redis, etc. You will need every little piece of competitive advantage.

Minimum viable engagement speed: High – transactions are made directly on your site, and multiple pages are browsed. You are in a very competitive area, so if your site is slow, you’ll be losing revenue to your competitors.

Website speed sensitivity: Very high – according to various research, for every 1 second you’ll cut down from your loading time, expect to see a 7% increase in revenue. Your website speed is clearly a multiplication of your whole business effort. This should be your top priority then.

Recommended actions:

  • Aim for a better Pagespeed score or GT Metrix score
  • Migrate to a proper WordPress hosting environment
  • Install a proper caching plugin, like WP Rocket
  • Configure caching properly
  • Play with JS and CSS files
  • Give your site some time and love
  • Utilize advanced server side caching of content and database
  • Find bottlenecks with a profiler like New Relic
  • If you are keen for top-notch performance of your store, I can help you with that.

Takeaway for you

No matter what kind of site you are running, it should always be faster than the minimum viable engagement speed. Not reaching this speed means that this is currently the monetization weak-spot of your website and it’s slowing down your business.

The minimum viable engagement speed is different for different website types. To get the best value, it is important to distinguish what kind of site you are running. When you know this, you are also able to figure out the website speed sensitivity.

When you apply both of those metrics to your WordPress website, you can make a better decision of how important the speed of your site is for your business. And then you’ll be able to figure out how many resources you should invest.

If you want to employ all forces and move your business forward, then you aim to go over the trust enhancing speed threshold. By having this lightning fast WordPress website, you will stand out from the competition.

I use all metrics with my clients, when doing a WordPress performance optimization with them. It guides us to the right approach and makes sure the clients get the most value for the resources invested. If you would like to have a discussion about this, or outspeed your competition, let me know and we can set up a consultation.