In January 2018, Google announced that as of July, page speed will become a ranking factor for mobile searches. Previously, only desktop searches used the load speed of a page as a ranking signal, however, with this update, Google are highlighting the need for speed on mobile devices. With Google also signifying the pending roll-out of their mobile first index, page speed on mobile will become vitally important in the second half of 2018.
Google completed a study last year that showed it takes on average 22 seconds for a mobile page to load fully, however, 53% of visits on mobile devices are abandoned if it takes longer than three second for the page to load. As such online business could be losing out on a massive amount of potential traffic due to having a poor user experience in relation to load time of their mobile pages.
This can cause a huge issue for retailers online, with a poor mobile speed likely to lead to users exiting the site and trying to find the product they are looking for elsewhere. Websites must ensure that customers are engaged on mobile devices and the focus should be placed on building websites primarily from a mobile-first perspective before scaling up to desktop and tablet devices.
Evaluating Your Mobile Performance
PageSpeed Insights is a tool developed by Google which reports on performance of a page on both mobile and desktop devices, while also providing recommendations on how a page may be improved. By entering a URL for a page, Google provides both a Speed Score and an Optimisation Score for the page:
The Speed Score provides an overall score based on how a page ranks in terms of First Contentful Paint (FCP) and DOMContentLoaded (DCL), and the score is based on how these results for a page rank in comparison against an industry standard. Speed scores can be either, fast, slow or average.
Optimisation score provides a categorised evaluation of the page of Good, Medium or Low and a score out of 100 for the performance of a page. These scores and categorisations correlate to the following:
- Good – Page has little room for improvement, scoring 80 or above.
- Medium – Page has room for improvement, scoring between 60 and 79.
- Low – Page is not optimised and has wide room for improvement, scoring between 0 and 59.
Google also provides optimisation suggestions for how to improve performance including, reducing server response time, optimising images and enabling compression.
Within Google Analytics, a full section exists on Site Speed, which includes complete information on average page load time, redirection time, server response time and page download time. It also allows for a drill down into browsers which are performing better for page load time and specific pages which are slower.
This tool allows for a better focus on a wide array of pages, where specific pages that are slower than others can be identified and investigated.
Lighthouse is an automated tool which can be used for identifying issues with the quality of web pages. This tool can be run against any web page and can be used on pages requiring authentication which makes it great for staging sites which require a password to enter, as the PageSpeed tool can’t access these pages.
The Lighthouse tool has audits for performance, accessibility, progressive web apps and much more:
What Should You Do?
By using the tools listed above, plus others which are not Google related, websites should have enough information for how to improve page speed on their pages. With the July 2018 ranking change fast approaching, it is pivotal that websites improve their mobile performance to ensure best ranking performance in search results.
8 Million Stories do offer a page speed audit, alongside a fuller SEO audit, which provides best practice guidelines and optimisation techniques for making sure you are in prime position for the ‘speed update’. If this is of interest, please get in touch using this form.