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Faster m-web pages rank higher in mobile searches and deliver better conversion, two separate studies confirm

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Mobile page speed plays a significant part is site abandonment rates, with faster loading pages already deciding winners, find two new studies by Google and Searchmetrics.

Ahead of the introduction of Google’s mobile Speed Update next month – which aims to rate smartphone pages that “deliver the slowest experience to users – the search engine reported that it still takes 15 seconds to load a landing page fully.

This figure is considered “far too slow” as 53% of smartphone site visitors leave the page that loads more than three seconds, according to its research. Google analysed 11 million mobile ad landing pages spanning 213 countries to create a new industry benchmark for mobile page speed.

Google says that even the most traffic now occurs on 4G instead of 3G, the majority of mobile sites are still slow and ’bloated’ with many elements. In fact, more than a half of overall web traffic comes from mobile, but sale conversion rates are lower than desktop, which indicates that speed equals revenue.

The study reports that retailer website pages take the longest to load, amongst other poor mobile user experience industries like automotive and technology.

For 70% of all mobile pages analysed, it took more than 5 seconds for visual content to load above the fold to display on the screen – and more than 7 seconds to fully see it.

Google also trained a deep neural network, modelling the human brain and nervous system, with a broad set of conversion data to test a human’s reaction to mobile site speed. The neural net, which had a 90% prediction accuracy, found that, as page load time goes from one to 10 seconds, the probability of a mobile site visitor bouncing increases by 123%.

Similarly, cluttered web pages have the same effect as long-loading web pages. Google says as the number of elements such as text, title and images goes from 400 to 6,000 the probability of conversion drops to 95%.

To test how speed varies across Google’s search results, Searchmetrics’ whitepaper ’Mobile Speed Study 2018’ analysed the load speed of pages appearing in thousands of organic mobile search results ranking one to 15.

The research suggests that average load time for pages ranked one to 15 is less than three seconds. Near the top, pages load faster with each improved in ranking position.

The top 5 positions get more than 80% of all clicks, and users tend to click on the first three links in the SERPs,” Niels Dahnke head of SEO/SEA/Social Media at MADSACK Market Solutions. “This means that Google pays particular attention to fast-loading pages on these positions. Slower pages with relevant content will generally make it to position 4 and below.”

Mobile speed goes up and down across industries. However, the ecommerce related mobile pages tend to load slower on average, as previously examined by Google.

In addition to speed analysis, Searchmetrics’ study examined the growth within search results of accelerated mobile pages (AMP), a framework that aims to help publishers “deliver a fast, consistent content”.

Since the launch of Google’s AMP initiative in 2015, the search engine reported that more than 25 million domains had implemented the service. 

Searchmetrics says that a majority of industries are still considering to implement AMP, as this search term appears on the first results pages for 61% of all of the keywords. On average, when AMP keyword appears, there are 4.3 AMP-enabled pages listed in all single page research results-whether that is a traditional organic result, ’top stories,’ carousels from a single publisher or mixed carousels.

The research goes on to say that 59% of ecommerce related researches now display the AMP-empowered result on the first page.

“While AMP content most commonly appears in the topical news and media related searches – for which it was originally intended – it is also now seen in over half of the first page results in finance, ecommerce and travel searches,” says Cliff Edwards, director marketing & communications of Searchmetrics. “The research suggests there is already some correlation between page speed and mobile rankings – and Google’s Speed Update is only going to make this stronger. So webmasters need to be continually testing and finding ways to optimise their web pages for speed. Overall this is going to mean plenty of work for many sites as even in the top five positions 32% of search results took longer than three seconds to load.”

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