The Four-Second Rule: Page Speed, UX, & SEO

Apr 23, 2019 | Blog, Digital Strategy, SEO, Smirk's Take

It may seem trivial, but the first few seconds after a user enters your website could mean the difference between securing a new customer and losing out to your competition. Market experts have discovered more than half of internet users will simply give up and bounce from a site if it fails to load within four seconds.


Page Speed & SEO

In the world of SEO, it’s no secret that a high bounce rate equates to a poor user experience (UX). And with Google’s emphasis on mobile-friendly websites, slow page speeds can cause major SEO issues.

That’s why the Smirk team abides by the “Four-Second Rule” when creating SEO strategies and website designs. Every second is valuable online and we understand the delicate balance between design and efficiency. To better illustrate what makes this balancing act so crucial to your search engine success, there are three important things you’ll need to keep in mind:


1. You Only Get One First Impression

First impressions are important in any industry, and your website is the company’s digital introduction to your audience. So, the last thing you want to do is frustrate them with a slow-loading front page. If this happens, they’ll be walking out the (virtual) door before you can even say hello.

Every Second Counts

Most web users today access the internet through advanced mobile networks like LTE and 4G, so they expect content to load within five seconds. The consequences of a slower loading time are immediate and severe. The BBC found every extra second lost in loading time translated roughly to a 10 percent loss of users.


Websites with load times under five seconds enjoy 70% longer visits.

Google, 2019

2. Customers Want Convenience

When visitors feel they can interact with your website comfortably and conveniently, you reap the benefits in both exposure and income. It’s great to show off your work by displaying lots of eye-catching content. But weighing your site down with lots of large media files, iFrames, and animation on-site can take a serious toll on your page speed.

Focus on UX

Positive UX naturally boosts web traffic. And growth in visitors is proven to increase conversions, particularly in the form of purchases or subscriptions. Pinterest elevated both their visits and subscription rates to 15 percent, simply by making their pages load 40 percent faster.

Plus, a more productive website also has the potential to seriously boost revenue. Sites that load in under five seconds receive roughly twice the ad revenue of sites with loading times closer to 20 seconds.

Optimize Site-Wide

Keeping customers interested requires a site that runs smoothly on a consistent basis (not just on the home page). Maintaining this means keeping your page content organized and prioritized for each device. Specifically:

  • Mobile-friendly image formats
  • Content with high readability scores
  • Intuitive navigation and linking
  • Visually pleasing design


3. Must Be Mobile-Friendly

Customers aren’t the only ones paying attention to your page speed performance. Google’s switch to mobile-first indexing in 2018 means only the most efficient sites are earning the top spots on search result pages.

Today, more than half of all search engine traffic is from mobile devices. Partially due to the steadily declining price of mobile internet connection. But also because of the internet’s growing role in our daily routines.


Does your website follow the four-second rule?

Mobile-friendliness is no longer optional, but less than half of business websites are fully optimized for mobile and desktop use. How long does your website take to load on mobile? And what is it costing you?

One of the first things Team Smirk does when building up a client’s online presence is to ensure that their web pages are designed to run swiftly on both mobile and desktop devices. If you’d like to learn more about what Smirk can do to optimize your site, contact us here.

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