A comprehensive cross-sectoral study of US business website speeds bears ominous tidings for eCommerce retailers in 2019, finding that websites take more than twice as long to load on mobile devices than busy customers are prepared to wait.
The 'United States Website Speed Report' sees leading digital agency AGENT Digital urge US firms to slash their website page loading times in a bid to retain custom during busy sales periods throughout 2019.
The report shows that General eCommerce Retail websites in the US take on average 7.51 seconds to load fully on mobile devices, making it the slowest of all the business sectors surveyed.
At more than twice the recommended industry speed standard of less than three seconds, the General eCommerce Retail finding was described by AGENT Digital managing director Kevin Meaney as "a wake-up call".
"Research shows us 53% of people will leave a mobile page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load (Google)," Mr Meaney said.
Based on an analysis of 11m websites throughout a wide range of US business sectors (Google), AGENT Digital's researchers created the 'United States Website Speed Report', which highlights potential losses for sites that don't load swiftly enough for increasingly discerning and time-sensitive mobile customers.
For owners of websites in other US business sectors, the news is not much better. No sector surveyed had average mobile loading times that were within the recommended 2-3 seconds threshold.
According to the AGENT Digital report, the fastest average page loading time on mobile devices was 3.59 seconds for websites in the Professional Services (Consultancy) sector. Average mobile loading time across all sectors surveyed was 5.74 seconds.
Mr Meaney explained that the focus on website speed has been intensifying over the past decade, and urged US businesses to make website speed a priority for 2019 to ensure their webpage loading times are not causing potential sales to slip through the net.
He stated: "Google has for years aimed to load its pages in under a half-second, and regards 2 seconds as the e-commerce threshold. As long ago as 2012, Google was describing loading times of 5 seconds as an eternity in a world where fractions of seconds count (Google). And other research has concluded a delay of just one second can result in 11% fewer page views, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction and a 7% loss of conversions (Aberdeen Group)."
The report, created to help make US businesses more aware of the importance of website speed, finds that websites in the US Professional Services (Consultancy) sector had the fastest average loading time on mobile devices (3.59 seconds), followed by websites in Energy (4.41 seconds), and by Financial Services (Insurance) sites, with their average page loading time of 4.68 seconds.
As noted, the research finds Retail eCommerce (General) sites with the slowest average loading time on mobile devices, at 7.51 seconds, behind the 6.7 seconds for Technology sector websites, and those in the Non-Profit sector, which have an average loading time of 6.69 seconds.
In 2019, swift mobile loading time has become critical for two reasons, Mr Meaney explained. The first relates to user experience (UX) as it is right now, and how UX and sales are affected by loading delays. There is a correlation between delays and bounce rate (the percentage of users who leave a website after viewing only one page). Bounce rate increases as page-load times increase, so longer waits are more likely to result in mobile users leaving for other websites (Akamai). In addition, it's tougher to get mobile users to convert, because their expectations for speed and reliability are higher. While it's impressive that more than half of overall web traffic is coming from mobile (Google), this is offset by the reality that more than 53% of mobile visitors to a site will abandon a page that takes longer than three seconds to load (Google).
"Based on the industry standard of a 3-second load time, even the fastest US sector is losing over half of its mobile site visitors. With 237.6-million smartphone users in the US this year, forecast to increase to 270.66-million by 2022 (Statista), this highlights the scale of the issue." Mr Meaney stated.
He added that the recent rollout of Google's 'Speed Update' had made the issue even more urgent for business website owners. "With the Google 'Speed Update' that was rolled out in July this year, page speed is now a ranking factor for mobile searches. Websites that are slow to load will rank lower in Google search results. It is now essential for businesses to address the problem and ensure their websites are loading as quickly as possible." (Google)
Mr Meaney moved to reassure businesses that site delay issues can be addressed quickly once identified: "It was important for us to create this speed report to highlight the issue for US businesses. Many brands are simply not aware that their websites are too slow. However, once the issue is highlighted it can be quickly addressed through effective website speed optimization techniques."
AGENT Digital is the digital department within AGENT.media, which is a website for ‘Change Agents’: entrepreneurs, business owners and professionals driven by their passion.
To help businesses, AGENT Digital has 10 pragmatic tips that companies can implement to improve their website speed immediately.
10 Tips to Improve Your Website Speed
1. Enable Compression
Optimize your coding by removing spaces, commas and other superfluous characters and marks. This can dramatically increase page loading times.
3. Reduce Redirects
Keep redirects to a minimum. Every time a page redirects to another page, your visitors will have extra time waiting for the completion of the HTTP request-response cycle.
4. Check your Plugins
Too many plugins will slow down a website. The browser needs time to process the plugins and assimilate them with your site. Go through all the plugins on your website, and ask if you really need each one.
5. Resolve 404 Errors
404 Errors—messages indicating that the requested page is not available—can really frustrate visitors. They also slow down your site because they take up space that could exist for actual content. Remove any pages with 404 Errors, or create a 301 Redirect, a permanent redirect to another page on your site.
While rendering web pages, browsers will build a DOM Tree by parsing HTML code. However, if a Script is encountered during this process, the browser must stop and execute it before continuing.
7. Leverage Browser Caching
8. Improve server response time
The response time of your server is affected not only by traffic, but also by the resources your web pages are using, server software, and hosting solutions. You should always remain vigilant for performance bottlenecks, and check and fix whatever is causing them, such as slow database queries, routing, or memory issues.
9. Use a Content Distribution Network
Content Distribution Networks (CDNs), also called Content Delivery Networks, are networks of servers which evenly distribute the task of content delivery.
10. Optimize Images
This means ensuring all images are no larger than necessary, and in the correct format. In general, PNGs are best for graphics with fewer than 16 colours, while JPEGs are best for photographs. In either case, be sure that these images are compressed for the web and mobile devices.
Visit https://www.agent.media/ today for further information.
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Sources of information are set out below, by paragraph beginning:
"Research shows us 53% of people will leave a mobile page…"
• “…53% of people will leave a mobile page…” - Daniel An, Google - 'Think With Google', February 2018
"Based on an analysis of 11m websites…"
• Daniel An, Google - 'Think With Google', February 2018
“He stated: "Google has for years aimed…”
• Maile Ohye declared that 2 seconds was "the threshold for e-commerce website acceptability" and added: "At Google, we aim for under a half second." - Maile Ohye, Google - 'Google Webmaster Central Blog', May 2010
• Urs Hölzle described 4.9 seconds as "an eternity" in "a world where fractions of a second count" - Urs Hölzle,Google SVP of Technical Infrastructure - 'Think With Google', January 2012
• Google's Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller, tweeted: "There's no limit per page. Make sure they load fast, for your users. I often check webpagetest.org and aim for <2-3 secs." - Twitter, November 2016
• Aberdeen Group found that just a 1-second delay yields 11% fewer page views, causes a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction and results in a 7% loss of conversions - Aberdeen Group - 'The Performance of Web Applications', November 2008
In 2018, swift mobile loading time has become critical…
• "Bounce rate increases as page-load times increase…" - Akamai - 'State of Online Retail Performance', 2017 Holiday Retrospective, May 2018
• “…more than half of overall web traffic is coming from mobile…” - Google Analytics data, US, Q1 2016 - 'Think With Google', September 2016
• “…53% of mobile visitors to a site will abandon a page…” - Daniel An, Google - 'Think With Google', September 2016
"Based on the industry standard of a 3-second load time…"
• US smartphone usage data - 'Number of smartphone users in the United States from 2010 to 2022' - Statista, July 2017
He added that the recent rollout of Google's Speed Update…
• Google Speed Update - 'Using page speed in mobile search ranking' - Google Webmaster Central Blog, July 2018