On February 26th, Google Ad Group Product Manager, Jon Diorio, announced the release of yet another Google tool to help website owners enter the mobile-age. This comes soon after Google’s ranking changes which work to highlight mobile-forward search rankings. The new tool called the mobile speed scorecard, allows users to compare the mobile speed of their websites with other site owners.
The hope behind this latest endeavor is to help internet users find answers to search queries, read the news, download videos, or find vacation deals more quickly. Although most site owners have begun to change their websites to better suite mobile device users, some still run much slower for tablets and phones than they do desktop computers. It’s important to remember that most of the changes Google makes to algorithms has to do with the user. If your site isn’t beneficial to the public, it may find itself at the bottom of a list of competitor rankings.
During the report by Google, Diorio goes on to explain that as of 2016, studies showed that more than 50% of internet users would exit a page or change to a different website if it took longer than 3-seconds to load. The introduction of the mobile speed scorecard at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona was meant to address this and other mobile speed related matters.
How it Works
The speed scorecard provides statistics from 12 different countries around the world, comparing your mobile speed with thousands of other global users. This will help website owners determine where they are in terms of ranking and speed, and work to better their sites. The tool runs using the Chrome User Experience Support database, which features data collected from real chrome users. It supplies a ranking, website name, and speed time.
Google suggests that website owners use the tool to minimize loading times and keep them down to five-seconds. This is the average time for a 3G connected mobile phone in good standing and technology to open a site properly. Anything more than this and the risk of site abandonment increases. This includes websites catering to ecommerce, in which users find loading the cart or the checkout process to be too slow.
To help increase success with the mobile speed scorecard, Google has also released their Impact Calculator. The calculator works to estimate the money lost due to the speed of your website. Google reports that for the loss of 1-second, websites will see a 20% decline in conversions on average. You can use this tool to determine whether your website is losing shoppers and money based on your speed, or if your site is doing well, and there’s no need for further investigation.
Another addition to the Google toolbox is the latest in AdWords, the Landing Pages page. The landing page is the page your customers reach when they click a branded link. The landing pages page at Google offers insight on ad performance, such as rate of clicks, conversion and cost.
As the year progresses Google has said that AdWords will begin to manage click data in the background while pages load. This will minimize wasted time and increased loading times, which could divert customer attention from your site.
How to Increase Speed
Now that you’ve recognized there’s a speed problem with the way that your website loads, you might be wondering how to speed it up. You can start by managing HTTP requests as your page loads. Most of the time spend loading a page occurs because scripts, stylesheets, and other areas of the site are loading. The more components that must load, the longer the load time will take.
You can also speed up your site load time by swapping to a better DNS server. By viewing the DNS speed comparison report, site owners can see their provider and see whether the DNS is the problem with loading speed. If your provider ranks highly, it’s probably unrelated and due to another issue entirely.
Enabling caching is another excellent trick to speed up your website. The first time a user visits a site it takes so long to load because every single element must appear. When you enable browser caching on your website, these components load and are stored in the user’s computer for the next time they open the page. Now, it will take less time to load because some items to run the site are stored in the hard drive.
Any way that you can minimize time spent loading pages or switching between pages will make your site more attractive and keep the attention of your audience. By prolonging loading times you risk losing a site viewer to a competitor site with a faster response time. Aside from tools which provide an exact load time to the second, you can also visit your site from different devices, ie. Mobile phone, desktop, laptop, or tablet, and see for yourself how long it takes to access all areas of the site and how smoothly they run.
All these changes are meant to streamline the user experience and increase chances of success for website owners. If your site is running slowly, has yet to be optimized for mobile use, or is losing traffic without reason, consider finding ways to increase loading speeds. The new tools by Google can help you evaluate your website but have yet to offer a cure-all for those sites not up to scratch.