A faster website will not attract more visitors
In 2018, BMW commissioned German design agency, Jung von Matt, to build a new, faster, mobile website. Their collective priority was to ‘significantly increase the website’s speed’. They succeeded and subsequently claimed to have seen a massive increase in both visitors and mobile users.
Following the launch of the new BMW website in 2019, Google published an article on the excellent ‘Think with Google’ platform. Jörg Poggenpohl, Global Head of Marketing at BMW, explained;
“ The new mobile site loads 3x faster.”
“ The number of our mobile users has risen by 27%.”
Ice cream and drownings
It’s the same as ice cream and drownings. There is no direct correlation between the increase in ice cream sales and the number of people who drown, yet the increase in both is a fact. What connects them is that both occur during summer when more people buy ice cream and more people go swimming.
BMW is claiming that a faster website (ice cream sales) resulted in a 27% increase in mobile users (drownings). Yet, there is no direct relationship between the two events, whilst the increase in both is, again, factually correct.
A faster website cannot attract more visitors just because it’s faster.
SEO is the summer
“ And SEO [search engine optimisation] now generates 49% more site visits than the old site.”
Ah, so that’ll be it. Using the ice cream and drowning example, SEO is the missing piece of data that helps it all make sense; summer.
The sole purpose of optimising a website for search engines is to make it easier to find. Unsurprisingly, this typically results in increased visitor numbers.
In BMW’s case, more visitors to the main website resulted in more sales.
“ The proportion of people clicking from BMW.com to a BMW sales site soared from 8% to 30%.”
So far, we have a faster website and some fancy optimising to help people find it. There is no direct connection between the website being faster and the volume of visitors it received. The 27% increase in users is because more people found the website. More people found the website because of SEO.
Google clearly wants to emphasise the point that faster websites are better for visitors, and nobody would deny how vitally important a website’s speed is.
However, the presentation is pure misdirection and is a perfect example of one global brand (Google) leveraging another global brand (BMW), mixing fact with fiction.
Why let the facts get in the way of a good story?
Poggenpohl also said;
“ It’s now clear to me that mobile site speed is critical to success, no matter what kind of business you’re in.”
And he would be 100% correct. However, he’s referring to ‘success’ as it relates to keeping visitors engaged, interested, and in BMW’s case, selling more cars.
Speed isn’t everything
Every business should have a fast, mobile-responsive website, but a quicker website won’t magically attract more visitors. And here’s why:
- Nobody instinctively knows that a website is faster until they’ve used it. Even then: faster than what? They would have to compare it to the original website to know the difference.
- A slow website is likely to put people off quickly. It soon becomes frustrating when a poorly performing website prevents easy, quick navigation.
- People are interested in quality, relevant content, without which it matters not how super-fast the website is, only that they can leave more quickly.
You can see the original, full Google/BMW article here: