Just one of the articles from Pet Care Pro Quarterly, IBPSA’s digital magazine for pet care services professionals. Read the current issue online here.
By Alain Parcan
When building your website, as your #1 marketing resource, it’s important to accurately and personally represent your pet care company’s identity. While branding and credibility are important, don’t forget the primary goal of your online home: turn people searching for a service into customers. User experience is the key to a successful website, which is why it needs to be revisited on a consistent basis.
Online users tend to have short attention spans, and if they feel like your website is taking too long to load, they may decide to call it quits before your information ever appears. To be successful, quick page loads are the new normal—a trend that’s becoming increasingly noticeable within search engines.
In 2010, Google made it official that page load speed is a ranking factor for their algorithm. In other words, they admitted that websites that load quickly are more likely to make it on the top of “Page One” of Google than those that load slower. Not even a year ago, they also made it known that mobile searches would be held to the same standard. What does this mean? In 2019, you better load quick!
What is “slow” for page load speeds?
According to Google, a page that is “very slow” takes longer than 10 seconds to fully load. They actually prefer that your website loads in under 3 seconds, to be considered “quick.”
It may feel like Google is just making up their own rules but using page load speed as a factor to determine ranking is meant to mirror user preferences. If a user wouldn’t wait to view your site, it makes sense Google wouldn’t rank your pet care service high on Page One.
To find out how you measure up, Google PageSpeed Insights is a free tool that can provide you with metrics as well as suggestions for how to lower your page load time. Speaking of…
How can you lower your page load speed?
Even though some strategies to lower load speed may require help from a professional web developer, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways you can go about doing it yourself. Below are three simple strategies you can employ to speed your website up a bit:
High-quality images can really help you stand out, especially when they show off your company’s work in great detail, but there is such a thing as too much quality and detail. The larger (and clearer) the image is, the larger the file, which takes more time to download. The key is to find the middle ground where the photo is sized correctly and compressed but is still visually appealing and clear.
This is where optimization comes in. Use your favorite photo editing software, or a free online service, to resize or scale down the file size of your website’s images. Optimizing photos is an excellent way to start speeding up your page load speed.
Some business owners have long lists of website features they’ve seen on other pet care sites that they would like included on their own. Creativity is always appreciated, but it’s often best to keep things simple when it comes to website design.
Every time you feature something like an interactive map, a rotating slideshow, or a video, you require an additional “request,” which the internet must make to display the site. The result is a dent in your site’s load time. One or two features won’t hurt you too much, but too many can be a big risk. When putting together your home page, identify the primary information you want your visitors to receive, and make sure you only feature what you feel to be entirely necessary. This will prevent your page from becoming too busy, and it’ll decrease the load time a user has to wait.
Perhaps you’ve tried some of these strategies before, yet they haven’t worked. This may be a result of your web hosting plan (typically a yearly payment made to keep your site and its files on the internet). People starting their pet care business tend to reach for more affordable hosting plans when they first create their site. A lot has changed since you first started your company, so it’s important to make sure your hosting plan matches up with where you are now as a business. It’s possible you’ve added numerous pages, galleries, and other content that may be too much for your initial hosting plan.
It’s no secret that people, especially online, tend to have shorter attention spans these days. Quick load times are a great way to meet consumer needs while also setting your site up for success for Google rankings. In 2019, all it takes is a little effort to make sure your website doesn’t slow down your business!
Alain Parcan, Director of Marketing for Market Hardware, Inc., contributed this article. Alain brings nearly 10 years of experience in educating businesses so they can market themselves more effectively. Market Hardware helps small businesses compete on the Web and offers special discounts for IBPSA members. You can reach Alain’s team at 888-381-6925.