More than half of the world population uses a smartphone, which is a massive indicator for website owners to ensure their web properties are responsive and functions perfectly on smart devices. Earlier in 2017, Google introduced certain mobile page speed benchmarks to help webmasters improve their website visibility on the SERP. Some data points from the benchmarks reveal:
- · 22 seconds is the average mobile page loading time
- · 53% users close the page if it does not open within 3 seconds
- · 7 seconds is the average time a page with visual content takes to load on the screen & 70% of the pages fall under this category
- · 70% of mobile pages are above 1 MB file size
The Average Speed Index of the websites originating in the United States ranges between 9.5 seconds and 10.1 seconds, and it includes eight industry segments: automotive, business and industrial markets, classifieds and local, finance, media and entertainment, retail, technology, and travel sites.
The statistics further show that when the page loading time increases from 3 seconds to 10 seconds (average), the bounce rate increases from 32% to 123%.
These data points clearly indicate that mobile page speed is intricately connected to site revenue. With high page loading speed, the interactive interest of the audience reduces leading to page abandonment, which is disastrous news for any website owner who wishes to generate revenue from the web properties.
Slower sites lower conversions.
Google analysed over 900,000 mobile ads originating from 126 countries and found that 70% of these pages took 7 seconds to load and the page size was over 1.49 MB.
The only solution is to make a genuine and constant effort to keep the mobile page speed under 3 seconds, always.
Can Instant Articles and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Solve the Problem?
Probably not. It is not the ideal solution.
AMP is an open-source, Google-backed concept with the intent to make the web pages faster by minimising the resources loading on the page and compressing the files. Sites like Gizmodo and Wired Magazine experienced 80% new visitors and 25% CTR increase after AMP implementation. Certainly, with Google backing, the AMP will receive a major push on the SERP.
However, AMP has few drawbacks, which are:
- · Difficulty in implementing AMP on a website as the webmaster needs technical knowledge to understand the elements
- · Branding is often lost on the AMP content
- · Google gets all the traffic, technically
In fact, the ownership of the content post-AMP implementation is an issue.
A similar problem exists with Facebook’s concept of Instant Articles. While the pages’ loan ten times faster and CTR improve dramatically, it has its issues. Initially, major brands started to adopt Instant Articles but lately, as reports from Digiday and News Whip show, notable companies such as Boston Globe, The New York Times, Business Insider, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, BBC, and the National Geographic are barely using it.
Prefer the Long-Term Solution
The long-term solution is obviously working on the web properties to improve its visibility according to the mobile benchmarks. Get started with the new version of Google’s Page Speed Tool here. The report is fairly comprehensive to identify the problem areas. Keep a note of these three basic recommendations:
- The page element request count should be below 50. Minify the JS and CSS. Do a site compression audit with the GID Network. Convert the files into ZIP with Gzip extension. If using the WordPress CMS, use the WP Super Minify plugin to handle most of the work or an alternative is the Yahoo’s YUI Compressor. Use SpriteMe to condense the images and deliver content through CDN platforms like CloudFlare and MaxCDN.
- The average page weight should be less than 500 KB. It is hard to achieve this metric on an eCommerce site which is dependent on images. Cutting the images is not ideal as 78% shoppers, according to the Omni Channel Retail Report by BigCommerce, wants to view detailed images before buying. Tools like Compressor.io and Smush.it helps with image compression.
- The TTFB should be under 1.3 seconds. TTFB (Time to First Byte) is the measurement of the duration it takes a browser to receive the first data byte from the loading page. The above two methods will help to reduce the TTFB metric. To improve the metric further, look into the web hosting provider. TTFB is often higher on a shared hosting network. Use the WP Total Cache and few lazy loading WordPress plugins to customise the site.
Slow mobile pages are detrimental for any business revenue pipeline. Study the Google benchmark reports carefully, implement the above methods and keep a track on the page speed on a regular basis.
Website Speed Optimisation