Driving highly targeted traffic to your website is a critical step, but the landing page still has to convert that visitor to a lead or new customer. We recently helped one of our PPC clients whose online business was being adversely affected by slow page loading on their website. Their case could be useful to other business owners.

Web pages that load slowly can be tricky to find. Why? We’ll list just three of the many possible reasons.

For starters, if the slow load is being caused by images or large files, those may be stored in yourcomputer but not in that of a new user to your site, your potential customer. If you have not cleaned your cache recently, you won’t have the same page load experience as a new user — yours will be faster, but deceptively so.

Next, if the problem is intermittent or browser specific, you simply might not run across it unless you or your webmaster test specifically for it.

Third, if you rely on data from PPC ad dashboards or web analytics, but focus on the wrong metric, slow page load problems may not be evident. For example, in search engine advertising, slow page load can “hide” behind normal impressions or click through rate in AdWords. Low bounce rate in your web analytics, which otherwise is a good indicator of user behavior on your website, also will not catch the problem. Why? if the user exits before the page fully loads, the analytics tracking code will not register the visit. However, the lack of results would certainly show up if you were measuring online conversions, incoming phone calls or click to contact or conversion rates in any manner.

In online advertising, if the page load speed problems are significant, they can cause your website to receive a low quality score from the ad provider. This, combined with the other inherent penalties of a slow web page, can trigger a downward spiral: higher click cost, lower page position or even low/no ad impressions. And, of course, low or no conversions.

If you have a webmaster watching your website, page load speed should be part of their normal monitoring. However, It never hurts for you to also know about page loads, and how fast your web pages load compared with those your competitors.