Google loves nothing more than the pursuit of "value" in its search engine results. If searchers find too many results to links that don't match their search query or simply don't offer useful information, Google believes its brand suffers. Over the past decade, the tech giant has made many changes to its algorithms. One of the latest changes focuses on mobile sites, and specifically, on how fast those sites are for consumers to browse. If you don't think mobile speed really matters, it's time to rethink that position.
Why Mobile Speed has Become so Important
There are many reasons that the speed and responsiveness of your mobile site have become important, but it's worth digging behind the oft-cited mobile usages of consumers. Yes, consumers are searching on mobile phones more than ever. It's not the fact that they're searching that matters here though. What's important is their behavior patterns while doing so. Mobile searchers simply don't want to waste time on slow or unresponsive sites.
Google has responded in kind by increasing the manner in which it values mobile speed on your site as it pertains to ranking your pages in search results. As Google notes, "ensuring a smooth mobile experience for customers is key to business success." What does this mean exactly? Well, there are three key reasons mobile speed is now important for your business:
Google boosts sites in its search rankings that move faster and are more responsive
Faster sites enjoy a lower bounce rate as fewer consumers become frustrated scrolling your pages
Faster sites also increase mobile conversion rates
How Can You Increase Mobile Speed?
Now that Google has placed an increased emphasis on mobile speed when evaluating websites for its search results, what can brands do to increase mobile speed? Research has found that 53% of mobile site visitors will leave a page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. This serves to reinforce the value of speedy page loads, so here are some concrete steps you can take to increase mobile speeds:
Use proper image sizes: Images are one of the biggest drags on mobile speed. Using images that are too large for mobile screens not only makes loading take longer, but it also forces visitors to do more scrolling to see the entire image.
Load content "above the fold" first: A left-over term from the heyday of newspapers, it's ideal to tailor your mobile site to load "above the fold" content first. This refers to the content and images that will appear first on a mobile viewer's screen without having to scroll at all. Set this content to load first and let the remainder load as they take in this valuable content.
Optimize "above the fold" content: Given the priority to load the "above the fold" content first, you're going to want to ensure that viewers get the most bang for their buck in this section. Don't hide great deals or a call to action below this point.
Shorten some content: You'll need to find a way, in some cases, to shorten the content on your pages. For example, product descriptions should be shortened to 1-3 lines of content. Don't force viewers to scroll through long blocks of written content on a mobile site. Most simply won't do it and it takes longer to load that content.
Do You Need a "Mobile Speed" Budget?
Contrary to the name, a speed budget has nothing to do with money directly. Setting a speed budget means coming up with an amount of time that you are willing to accept for your site to load. All of the visual structure, linking, and images used on your site should be in line with your established speed budget to ensure that your site continues to offer visitors a swift, streamlined experience and boosts its standing.
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