Has this ever happened to you?
You are running out of errands. You will discover a product that you haven’t seen before at the store, but it looks really cool and you are interested in learning more information before you buy. You google the brand easily, and the website of the company is the first result of a google search. Superb!
You click on the tab, and the load bar begins to move very slowly. Is it chargeable at all? You are waiting for that which feels like an eternity. Finally, under your breath, you ‘re frustrated and muttered, “forget it.” You ‘re walking away, not interested anymore, and that company has just lost a sale and a potential client.
How is the speed on the mobile version of your website?
When we examine the subject of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), keywords are one of the main talking points (and rightly so). However, there are also several less-obvious factors that determine the ranking of a site, from the way a website is developed to how long it takes to load.
To that effect, Google Webmasters has issued an official announcement that page speed will become a ranking factor for mobile searches beginning in July 2018.
While page speed is currently a ranking factor for desktop searches, 2018 will be the year that cements web page speed as incredibly important across all platforms.
In this blog post from Google’s research team, the author specifically recommends speed on mobile pages based on recent studies. “It is important today that marketers develop strong Web experiences in all sectors of the industry. Customers tend to … get information quickly. … If there is too much pressure they ‘re going to abandon the web and move on.
According to a new analysis, the average mobile site takes approximately fifteen seconds to load. Compare the 15-second average to this study that shows 53% of mobile users leave a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load.
Our data shows that while mobile conversion rates are lower than desktop, more than half of total web traffic comes from phones. In short, pace reflects revenue.
In the words of Google itself, “When it comes to mobile pages, speed and size matter. Marketers must keep people engaged on mobile and focus on building mobile-first experiences.”
Here are a few recommended best practices to keep in mind in order to optimize mobile pages for speed:
- Compress images and text. This is the fastest way to start eliminating excess bytes.
- Keep average speed index (how fast the mobile page displays content to users) to under 3 seconds.
Minimize average request count (number of individual pieces of content needed to display entire mobile page) to fewer than 50.
The July 2018 update will be known as the “Speed Update.” The Speed Update will apply the same guideline to all web pages, regardless of the technology used to build the site (e.g., a custom-built site will be ranked with the same standard as a WordPress site).
Our friends at Linkio reported that, “Google has estimated that websites with a 6 second load speed (or slower) lose more than 24% of their organic traffic due to sluggish page speeds.”
Content is still a strong ranking signal, so a slow page may yet hold on to a high rank if it contains great, relevant content. However, Google is encouraging developers to think big-picture in regard to websites and digital marketing. They want developers to consider how performance affects the user experience, “and consider a variety of user experience metrics.”
When it comes to disclosing the metrics that decide their search engine rankings Google generally keeps their cards close to their chest. They Also note that there is not a standard, one method explicitly showing whether or not a page is influenced by its new ranking factor.
However, they do recommend the following resources on their blog to help digital marketers get started on optimizing their web pages:
- Chrome User Experience Report is a public dataset of key user experience metrics for popular destinations on the web, as experienced by Chrome users under real-world conditions.
- Lighthouse is an automated tool and a part of Chrome Developer Tools for auditing the quality (performance, accessibility, and more) of web pages.
- PageSpeed Insightsis a tool that indicates how well a page performs on the Chrome UX Report and suggests performance optimizations.
There has never been a better time to optimize your Desktop and Mobile website for speed. Regardless of the search engine rankings of your website in the past, you can now solve your speed problems to make sure that you and your company are ready for the July “Speed Update.”
If any of the above details seems overwhelming, or you’re not sure if your web page is up to snuff on your smartphone or desktop, please contact us. We are experienced in search engine optimization, and are happy to assist you at every stage in your project.