Page speed is a measure of how fast the content on your page loads. Impatient users on cellphones will click out if a page on an ecommerce site takes longer than 2 seconds to load. Page load time affects bounce rate. With over half of Google searches on mobile, and 30 % of users shopping on mobile, Google’s Mobile-First Index will ”eventually primarily use the the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site”. Starting July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches, as announced in Google’s Speed Update. Optimize your mobile site for best performance, which includes faster page load time. Cut unnecessary elements and images, remove or reduce third party scripts, aim for a faster DÖM-ready time (the time it takes for the page’s HTML code to be received and parsed by the browser) , Aim for faster full-page load time. Optimize images, fonts and webpage structure for faster rendering. Avoid redirect links and third party files.
Does your page take forever to load? Page speed is a measure of how fast the content on your page loads. Impatient users (especially on cellphones) will click out if a page on an ecommerce site takes longer than 2 seconds to load.
Yes, page load time affects bounce rate. According to Pingdom, the web performance monitoring company, a visitor’s bounce rate increases the longer a web page takes to load – rising to 38% once it crosses 5 seconds!
Page speed is a critical Google ranking factor, with its mobile-first index at the forefront of ranking factors in 2018. There are 3.5 billion daily searches on Google, which equates to 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Source: Smart Insights
The importance of the mobile web cannot be over-emphasized. Over half of all Google searches are on mobile. Most social media activity takes place on mobile. 30 % of users shop on mobile. According to SalesForce, 71% of businesses believe that mobile marketing is core to their business.
This is why Google has brought out its Mobile-First Index in Search.
Mobile first indexing
“To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first. Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results. Of course, while our index will be built from mobile documents, we’re going to continue to build a great search experience for all users, whether they come from mobile or desktop devices. If you have a responsive site or a dynamic serving site where the primary content and markup is equivalent across mobile and desktop, you shouldn’t have to change anything.”
The Speed Update
“(Google is) announcing that starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches. The “Speed Update,” as we’re calling it, will only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries. It applies the same standard to all pages, regardless of the technology used to build the page. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.’’
Source: Google 2018
Optimize mobile site design
- Faster page load (fewer images and elements, shorter headines and text, larger, easily navigable buttons and icons)
- Great UX
- High performance
- User engagement via social media
- Use emails on mobile ecommerce sites – people do open and respond to
With more than half of the people consuming media via smartphones, you need to make sure that your website design needs to be optimized for mobile and offers the best experience possible. Provide easy access to great content. Remember that great UX means greater ROI. Pay attention to details like email on mobile – users are more likely to open and respond to them today.
It makes sense to optimize your mobile site design to perform well. Keep your mobile site design simple for faster loading, use fewer elements and images, shorter headlines and text, larger, easily readable fonts and icons.
Take a look at some great examples of mobile site design from Hubspot.
Mobile website performance is critical for ecommerce success
30% of all online shopping purchases now happen on mobile phones and users expect a fast browsing experience. 40% of consumers will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.
Google partnered with SOASTA, a leading analytics company to find out which factors led to mobile site underperformance, of which page speed is an important factor. Using real-world data from a large sample of mobile e-commerce sites, the study developed two machine learning models that predicted which mobile-site factors would lead shoppers to buy or bounce. From what they learnt, they could give useful feedback to developers for optimizing mobile sites, which is distilled below:
Set a performance budget – a time frame within which you expect your mobile page to load, say 3 seconds.
There are 4 things you can do on your mobile site to reach your target benchmark: Cut down images and elements that add weight, slow down loading and affect conversions on a mobile site. Aim for faster DOM-ready time (the time it takes for the page’s HTML code to be received and parsed by the browser). Aim for faster full page load time. Let’s take these one at a time.
1. Remove unnecessary elements (many of them loaded on third party sites) that slow down your page and exceed your targeted performance budget. Elements add weight and complexity to your page and negatively affect conversions. Audit and monitor all the third-party scripts on your site that affect your mobile page speed.
2. Cut the number of images like favicons, logos, product images which can easily add up to two-thirds (in other words, hundreds of kilobytes) of a page’s total weight. To ensure that your mobile page speed is as fast as possible, confirm that your images are formatted correctly. . Use JPEG rather than PNG files for images to cut file size by more than half. They can also be compressed, resized or optimized with advanced optimization techniques.
Fewer images per page create more conversions
Source: Think with Google
2. Aim for faster DOM-ready time (the time it takes for the page’s HTML code to be received and parsed by the browser)
Although users can’t perceive this process, the HTML code has to be loaded before visible elements like images can be loaded. DOM- ready times affect bounce rates. “Our research found that bounced sessions had DOM-ready times that were 55% slower than non-bounced sessions.” Source: Think with Google
2. Aim for faster full-page load time
Optimize images, fonts and webpage structure for faster rendering. Avoid redirect links which send users to new URLs. Avoid third party files that slow loading time.
Faster full-page load time leads to lower bounce rate
Here’s what mobile ecommerce site owners can learn from this study.
You can reduce bounce rates, increase page load speed, increase time on site and boost conversions on mobile sites by using
1. Fewer elements
2. Fewer images – JPEG images are half the size of PNG file formats formats.
3. Faster DOM-ready time – the time it takes for your site’s HTML code to be received and parsed by the browser (which the user is unaware of but which needs to happen before the visual part of the site loads
4. Faster full page load time
Optimize webpage structure. Have fewer and optimized images and elements. Remove redirect links, avoid third party files.
Test your own site’s performance using Google’s testing tool
Test My Site https://testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com/
Is page load speed the only defining factor in bounce rate?
According to data from this study of 1,840 websites by Littledata, the answer is, there is little or no correlation between page load speed and bounce rate. This is because:
1. Users are more interested in relevant, quality content than speed.
The smaller websites surveyed for the purposes of this research operate in niche industries or locations where they may be the only source of content. Searchers can be very patient and wait for the results to come in. You should benchmark your site speed in relation to a group of your competitors’ websites so that you remain a cut above them on page speed as well as on content.
2. First impressions of a webpage most affect bounce rate
Do I trust this site? Is this the product or content I was expecting/searched for?
Will I quickly find what I want?
If your page can address these questions speedily – by good design and fast loading of the title and main image, then you have me hooked before my attention goes to other content.
3. Full page load speed is getting ever harder to measure.
Since most websites use lazy loading images or non-blocking loading techniques to ensure faster page loading of main content of a page, it is harder to track when the entire page loads… because only then is it visually complete for the user to interact with. With Google Analytics, you can use custom timing events to determine when a main image on a site has been loaded, so that you can measure page speed as it applies to your own site.
While page load speed is important, it’s not the only factor in Google page ranking. Think about focusing on conversion rate or page engagement as a safer metric than just page load speed alone.
What can we learn from this?
Optimize your mobile site to reduce bounce rates, increase page load speed, increase time on site and boost conversions on mobile sites. It makes sense to get set for a digital future with faster phones and internet. But don’t get too worried about it at the cost of other factors that pull in users. Great content, relevant content and user engagement will always steal a march over superfast-loading web-pages with empty content. The web has become more inclusive, accessible, functional and secure with minimalism, UIs UX and encryption setting the pace. Technology just got more sophisticated and we’ve got to keep pace. The possibilities are exciting!