Thanks to better connectivity and technology, we’re now using our mobiles more than ever before. Our phones are glued to our sides, with your mobile being within 1 metre 85% of the time.
Our mobiles have become our confidantes and, ultimately, our brains. It is where we go to seek advice and inspiration. In the past two years, mobile searches for ideas (gender reveal ideas, graduation party ideas) has grown over 55%, and mobile searches for advice queries (which haircut is best for me, which dog is right for me) have grown over 60%.
How do you feel when you try to load a website and it takes forever? In reality, it’s probably only a few seconds, but boy, does it feel like an ETERNITY.
Studies have shown mobile delays cause the same level of stress as watching a horror film or solving a maths problem, with the likelihood of users abandoning your site increasing as your page load time does:
Historically, Google has always hinted to page speed being a ranking factor, but this was when it was focusing on desktop searches. Now, in a world where more users are searching from mobile than desktop, there’s a new page speed update in town.
This month (July 2018), Google’s new page speed update reviews how fast your mobile pages are and will take that into account for mobile search. Here’s what the big dogs have to say on the matter:
“The “Speed Update,” as we’re calling it, will only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries. It applies the same standard to all pages, regardless of the technology used to build the page. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.”
To re-iterate, the “Speed Update” will only be affecting a small number of queries, only the ones that “deliver the slowest experience to users”.
That being said, if your site is in reasonable shape, it’s unlikely that it will be affected… for now. If you’re looking for a faster site – here’s a speedy guide to page speed:
How to speed up your website
There are many benefits to a faster website; one of the primary reasons being an all-round better experience for your users. From a financial perspective, it also make sense – Amazon calculated that if their page load was 1 second slower, they’d lose $1.6 billion in sales over a year.
Here are a few tools that can help determine where your page load issues are, and how to speed up your site:
Google pagespeed insights
Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool provides you with feedback on page speed and optimisation, reporting on the time for a user to see a visual response from the page (First Contentful Paint, or FCP) and the time when the HTML document has been loaded and parsed (DOM Content Loaded, or DCL).
From this, the tool also provides recommendations on how to help improve these scores. Common recommendations include:
• Reduce server response time
• Leverage browser caching
• Enable compression
• Optimize images
The only issue with Google’s PageSpeed insights is because it’s using data from Google Chrome, it doesn’t have enough data to reliably measure smallers sites, so often the speed analysis isn’t available for those users. Optimisation scores are still shown, however that’s not enough to determine if your pages are slow.
Lighthouse is found within Google Chrome, focused on improving the quality of web pages. Found in Chrome DevTools, Lighthouse can provide feedback on performance, best practices, accessibility and optimisation of your website – this can be particularly helpful as the tool pinpoints specific errors, for example the images displayed would work better online as JPEGs.
Waterfall charts can be particularly helpful in pinpointing where the biggest lag in loading is on your core pages. Each bar represents one component on a web page and the entire chart represents the fetching and rendering of the page.
Similarly to Lighthouse, you can see where the bigger time lags are – often it might just be a few images that haven’t been correctly sized for the website and is significantly increasing load time.
Think with Google’s speed scorecard is really handy to get a top-level overview on how your competitors are faring in regards to website speed:
Page speed impact calculator
Google has also provided a very hand impact calculator if you’re looking for a ballpark figure on how site speed would affect revenue to help convince other members of your company.
Search Engine Land have said it isn’t yet clear whether or not this new update will be applied to desktop searches, but either way, this can be seen as a good thing – a peaceful online experience surrounded by speedy sites and no more of this: