Speed Proves Key to Optimising Mobile Web in 2017

You may have heard a lot about Google’s mobile-first index and the importance of lightning-fast websites for SEO marketing purposes.

But is boosting speed necessary to the success of your mobile website and just how fast does your site need to load?

Every Second Counts

For most website owners it will come as no surprise that site load speed is essential, with faster loading pages proven to rank better in Google search and return higher engagement and conversion results from site visitors.

For desktop search, Google has said that site speed is one of the key signals factored into its algorithm to rank pages and it has been “obsessed’’ with the issue of faster speeds since 2010.

Forrester research confirms the need for speed when it comes to web pages:

    • 47 percent of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less.
    • 40 percent of consumers will wait no more than three seconds for a web page to render before abandoning the site.
    • 52 percent of online shoppers stated that quick page loading was important to their site loyalty.
    • Shoppers often become distracted when made to wait for a page to load. 14 percent will begin shopping at another site, and 23 percent will stop shopping or walk away from their computer.

Speed in a Mobile First World

But while speed has been important to user experience and therefore Google search results since 2010, the signals used for mobile ranking were based on your desktop web pages, not mobile web pages. So if you had a fast desktop web page, but the mobile version was slow, it wouldn’t have necessarily hurt your mobile rankings. However, you should look at conducting a full website SEO audit to highlight any issues.

However, once the mobile first index is rolled out this year, your mobile specific page speed will impact your rankings.

Google says its ongoing goal is to deliver fast, frictionless mobile experiences that meet the real-time internet driven micro-moments which now make up the consumer journey.

As a result, many site owners are now looking to leverage mobile site speeds to provide better shopping experiences and attain better search rank results.

Why Mobile First Index?

In announcing its mobile first index last year, Google explained that the majority of people were now searching on mobile devices and to make its search results more useful it made sense that mobile became the dominant index.

Both in Australia and globally, usage of mobile devices continues to rapidly increase. In contrast, time spent and sessions viewed on desktop and laptop devices, either stagnated or declined in the past few years. As such, the number of mobile phone users in Australia alone is predicted to be more than 19.4 million by the end of the year.

However, despite the greater use of mobile devices, mobile sites lagged behind desktop sites in key engagement metrics such as average time on site, pages per visit, and bounce rate. For retailers, where more than 30% of all online shopping purchases now happen on mobile phones, this means lost sales.

The fact is:

    • More than half of mobile users expect websites to load as quickly, or faster on their mobile phone, compared to the computer they use at home.
    • More than a third of mobile users (37%) said they would not return to a slow site, and 27 percent would likely jump to a competitor’s site.

Get on the Fast Track

So how can you rev up the speed of your mobile site? The first step is to understand what to optimise and to what extent.

Try Google’s Page Speed Insights Tool to find out how well your site works across mobile and desktop devices and get tips on what to fix.

Before making any changes, consider how much slow performance may be costing your business, how much faster your site needs to be to see a measurable impact and what would be the likely benefit (ROI) from improving site performance.

In many cases, even basic steps such as ensuring images are formatted correctly (for example saving a simple graphic as a JPEG rather than a PNG to cut its file size by more than half) can boost page load speeds.

Read more about mobile site speed with Google’s report on the principles of mobile site design: Delight users and drive conversions or call White Chalk Road to chat about ways to improve your mobile site speed.

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