Impact of Page Speed on Local Mobile Search

Looking at the current trends of mobile websites in search universe, it might be enough in near future just to have a mobile website. Delivering a fast and positive user experience will be the key in order to attract and retain customers to your local business. The BuzzBoard commissioned report released in January 2016 by Local Search Association (LSA) titled “Mobile: Ready – or Not” reveals the future for local mobile search.

According to the research 43.7 percent of SMBs do not have a mobile-ready website yet. This does mean that those with mobile-ready website possibly stand the chance to double the audience in comparison to those who are not mobile-ready. As per the ComScore’s “Global Media Report”, virtually half of the traffic is mobile only for the top 100 digital media properties. In October 2015, Google stated that over 50 percent of global search is via mobile device (smartphone or tablet) as noted in the LSA report.

There are two main problems in front of those without a mobile site. First and obvious is that customers demand it. As per the Google reports, 57 percent of users wont recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site and 40 percent go to a competitor after a bad mobile experience. Secondly, the number of visits will be fewer with a non-mobile website. Last year after Google launched its new algorithm which penalized the mobile search rank for non-optimized web pages, almost half of non-mobile friendly web pages experienced a loss in page rank within duration of three months.

Since Google is updating and tweaking its algorithm, there are a few things SMBs can perform in order to stay in the race. Check out the observations and tips below to know how.

1. Speed is What Consumers Seek

Having a mobile website is just not enough, consumers want website which are fast. As consumer attention spans are getting shorter, the number of people abandoning a website if it takes too long to load is increasing. 40 percent of people abandon a website if it takes more than 3 second to load. Consumers are less patient with mobile website than that of a desktop website.

Even though 1+ second delay might not seem like much but the number one complaint of users for mobile website was nothing but slow pages. Every second delay impacts page views, bounce rate, conversion rate and cart size, as per the Radware’s 2014 State of the Union for Mobile eCommerce Performance.

2. A Mobile Google Ranking Factor is Speed

Even though the early reports state than page rank was not affected by page load speed in Google’s Mobilegeddon, the recent observations put a different fact forward altogether. Colin Guidi, director of SEO at 3Q Digital, based on his analysis of client websites said,

“Visiting these sites via a mobile browser and slower processors shows that page speed and load time seems to be a heavier weighted ranking factor over this new mobile-friendly update.”

And there are studies that appear to support those observations such as Searchmatrics’ report post Mobilegeddon shows a strong correlation between page rank and page speed. And Google itself has stated in its recent report that it favors faster websites.

3. Introduction of New Speedier Mobile Web Page Formats

In the tug-of-war between keeping users on mobile web or mobile apps, Facebook is developing various ways to consume content within app rather than web like “Instant Articles” a format developed for publishers to speed up content delivery. Facebook is trying to take users away from mobile web where Google rules. Facebook isn’t even discreet about its plans. It stated, “We built Instant Articles to solve a specific problem — slow loading times on the mobile web created a problematic experience for people reading news on their phones.”

In the retaliation, Google announced Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) which is a new open-source framework that makes pages lightweight in data and by Google caching the pages on their server to allow rendering web pages to load almost instantly. This is sure to make a huge difference in mobile search results world looking at the Google’s demo at http://g.co/ampdemo.

4. It’s a Must Adapt for Local Businesses too

Even though the instant pages loads such as AMP are being tested by large publishers, it can easily be foreseen that these formats offered by Google and Facebook will be quickly adopted by national brands and will become a consumer standard.

The result of which is that it will become a mandatory experience for consumers, failing to accommodate which will result in loss of customers who grow increasingly impatient. When faced with a negative shopping experience, 33 percent of shoppers will move towards a competitor’s website and 30 percent will even never return to the offending website, as per the 2013 Harris Interactive Survey.

It is a clear indication to local brands that having a mobile website is not going to be enough in recent future. They have to improve their page load speeds to match with the standard set by big brands.

5. Heavier Content is a Drag Down

The public perception of advances in technology dictate that your experience should get better as technology grows, which in many cases fails such as many online mobile experiences are getting slower with passing time.

The median load time increased from 4.33 seconds in 2013, to 4.8 seconds in 2014, to 5.5 seconds in 2015 as per Radware’s Mobile eCommerce annual reports. An average webpage contains much more data than before, along with graphics, videos, and integration of more complex functions in site causes has caused the decline. As per the Redware’s findings that during 2014 to 2015, median page increased in both page complexity and size by almost 70 percent, making improving page load speeds a technical challenge.

While responsive design can adjust for better viewability on mobile screens and reduce the amount of data shown compared to desktop versions, behind the screen adjustments can sufficiently slow down user experience to affect bounce rate.

6. Speeding Up Your Website: Some Basic Tips

Considering all the points discussed before, it’s time to make those necessary changes to your website, which is possible with some sound website planning and web technology expertise. It’s time to make sure your mobile website stay ahead in the speed game with non-cluttered website with no speed killing inefficient functions.

  • The key factor for any webpage in its load time is the size or weight of it. Remember more the number of files to be downloaded, the more round trips it takes to server leading to more load time. One big file with unwanted data doesn’t make it either. Make sure to reduce the number and size of files that needs to be downloaded at page load.
  • Use compression tools and other utilities for size reduction to reduce the amount of data that needs to be loaded especially in case of images and videos. It’s also beneficial to minify your JavaScript, CSS, and HTML files.
  • Heavy formats for your page is a big no-no. Remember, for mobile devices Flash is strongly discouraged. We have entered the era of HTML5, right? Google’s AMP also makes sure by controlling the third party JavaScript that they do not interrupt page load.
  • Even though they are less likely suspected, fonts can surely affect your page load speed. So make sure you optimize the fonts, plus be wise with your selection of fonts, how and where they are used.
  • Using lazy load for your page content and items can greatly improve the speed and experience for your users. Load the content below fold when user scrolls or pre-loading it during the inactive breaks before user gets there is a smart choice.

Conclusion:

Having a mobile website is imperative, so if you have it, you are ahead of around half of your competitors. But there still is a battle ahead to be won if you want to stay in the game, as seen.

Making it this far, you have already won the half battle by understanding the underlying problem. Now “how” is technical, which means you would need to get in touch with a web expert to implement your strategies, there are a lot more solutions that the web expert may have depending on your particular website. The game is not just about getting ahead but staying there.

If you need any help, just contact us today and we would be more than happy to help you.

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