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Written by Finn Ruijter, 16 September 2019

How a WordPress site with low latency makes you money

According to Amazon, every 100 milliseconds of latency costs them 1% in revenue. But what does it really mean and how can your organization arm itself with this knowledge?

More than a decade ago, Amazon manager Greg Linden ran A/B tests in which his team made pages of the Web store slow down by an additional 100 ms each time. For every 100 ms delay in load time, it landed Amazon at about 1% in missed sales. And with annual sales of (at the time) about $20 billion, that’s a hefty sum.

Google also discovered in tests that users drop out when search results load slowly. For every half-second delay, Google lost 20% of its users.

Now latency is not the same as load time, but both forms of delay get on the nerves of today’s Internet users. A visitor wants to have the desired information quickly and completely. Whether visitors request quotes or make online purchases from you, directly or indirectly you benefit from the fastest possible website. The web host plays a crucial role in this.

What is latency?

Latency is the time, measured in milliseconds, that sits between sending a signal from your device (mobile, tablet laptop, or desktop) and receiving a response. In other words, latency is the delay in data transmission.

Imagine you have opened a Google Doc in your browser and are typing in a letter. The time between hitting the key and the character appearing on the screen is the latency. Because in fact, you send a signal to Google that then sends it back to your browser.

Gamers are also very aware of latency, which they then call lag. In an online shooting game or racing game, it can mean “game over” if the instruction you give through the controller is sent to the server too slowly. But latency also bothers non-gamers, as the figures from Amazon and Google show.

What is a good latency?

The question of what is a good latency depends on the type of user. A programmer will prefer to stay under 20 ms, while for a gamer a latency of up to 50 ms is acceptable. Regular Internet users do not have a problem if the latency is at most 100 ms.

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What role does the hosting provider play?

There are several factors that cause latency, such as the type of Internet connection, the amount of traffic and the distance from the server. As an IT department, whether you work with your Internet agency or not, you only have influence over that last factor: over how far away the web host is from your visitor. On the site MapLatency.com you can test your site; the world map will show you how long it takes your homepage to load from different world cities.

One solution that shortens the distance to the user is a Content Delivery Network (CDN). This ensures that no matter where the visitor is, specific components such as images and video are presented to them by a nearby server. Among other things, such a CDN is desirable when you get international website visitors; that way they don’t have to wait for their input to arrive at your Dutch server and the signal is sent back.

Improve your latency today

Standing still is going backwards. Smart organizations therefore choose to constantly improve their users’ experience. As specialists in converting websites, we advise clients not to overlook any detail in the process. Latency is one of those details. The result of such an integrated approach? More leads, more customers and increased sales. But it all starts with a conversation with your Internet specialist.