Why Google is Putting Such a Premium on Mobile Speed

In July 2018, Google implemented its “Mobile Speed Update” which made page loading speed a ranking factor for mobile searches. While speed has been an element in determining Google Ads Quality Score and organic rankings on desktop, Google altered its algorithm to make loading speed a major ranking factor for searches on mobile. Now fast-loading mobile sites receive a boost in Google’s search rankings while slower sites are penalized.

It’s all about the user experience

This move came as a result of Google’s laser focus on improving the searcher’s experience. The search giant has always prioritized user experience and does everything it can to deliver fast, valuable, relevant and helpful content to users.

Visitors find slow-loading websites annoying. A global Google Analytics report found that 53% of mobile site visitors abandon a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. Also, each additional second a page takes to load increases the chances of a visitor leaving a website.

Obviously, page load speeds are a major contributor to overall user experience, especially on mobile searches.

This is particularly true for e-commerce stores.

Impact of site speed on e-commerce sales

The highest conversion rates come from e-commerce pages that load within 0 – 2 seconds. Conversion rates drop by 4.42% every second as load times increase from 0 – 5 seconds. A case study by skilled.co found that conversion rates dropped to 0.6% and less after 5.7+ seconds.

For online stores, every little millisecond matters.

The explosive growth in mobile web traffic, especially in the U.S., has far-reaching implications for online retailers. Mobile web browsing officially passed desktop traffic in volume back in 2016. 60% of all Google searches in the U.S. now occur on a mobile device and 38% of sales are made on smartphones.

A Google survey shows that 70% of mobile sites tested took longer than 7 seconds to fully load — resulting in dissatisfied user journeys, negative brand experience, and higher bounce rates. And because they anticipate a bad browsing experience, 79% of potential customers who exit a slow-loading page say they’re unlikely to return.

Increased demand for fast, seamless mobile experiences

Studies show that mobile sites lag behind their desktop counterparts in important engagement KPIs like bounce rates, pages per visit, conversion rates and average time on site — and all this can be largely attributed to the relatively slow load times of mobile vs desktop sites.

As more and more users come to rely on their smartphones, Google sought to improve user experience by tweaking its mobile search algorithms to factor in loading speed — alarming news for online retailers with bloated websites filled with unnecessary elements and heavy images.

Today, online shoppers expect retailers to deliver fast, frictionless mobile experiences. However, with the average mobile site loading in 6.8 seconds, most e-commerce stores have a long way to go before they meet or exceed customer expectations.

How to improve the speed of your mobile site

To increase conversion rates and make more sales via mobile, online retailers must optimize their mobile sites to deliver faster loading speeds. E-commerce stores that do this not only benefit from a lower bounce rate and a higher conversion rate but they also rank higher in Google’s search rankings.

Achieving faster mobile site loading speeds will require online retailers to understand the factors responsible for slow page speed and:

  • Adapt their page templates for better mobile experiences
  • Remove unnecessary elements (especially those carried over from their website’s desktop version)
  • Properly format landing pages
  • Optimize the user journey
  • Convert your website to Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
  • Consider making your e-commerce store a Progressive Web App (PWA)

AMPs Load Instantly

Basically, AMP alters your website’s source code to point to your hosted AMP page — which is a streamlined version of your HTML page.

The AMP version loads much faster (up to 10x) than your standard mobile page and delivers a robust browsing and shopping experience to your website’s visitors.

Remember — customers are won or lost in seconds.

Improving the loading speed of your e-commerce store with AMP increases click-through rates, traffic, user engagement, and revenue. It also improves your ranking on Google’s search results thus placing you above the brands competing to capture the attention of your target audience.

By optimizing the loading speed of your website or online store, AMP helps you deliver an elegant, seamless experience to mobile users.

Learn more about how AMP works and how you can leverage it to boost user engagement, sales, and your website’s organic rankings on Google.