Faster Mobile Page Speed and Load Time is the Essence of Accelerated Mobile Pages
Both young and seasoned mobile shoppers have high expectations today for a fast and quality mobile experience. We live in a mobile-first world where mobile page speed is key!
Mobile users are looking for a great user experience – which starts by not having to wait for a webpage to complete loading. Taking that a step further, simply loading on a mobile device is no longer enough. To keep users engaged, PPC mobile campaigns know that sites must be fast and relevant. The days are past when mobile users are patient on the mobile web with a slow, clunky, and frustrating user experience.
Mobile load speed is critical — Google has repeated emphasized that over half of all online searches are coming from mobile devices. Business owners are recognizing that computing is increasingly ever more ubiquitous and that unprepared websites will find it tougher to catch up if delaying the transition to mobile. AMP is preferred by users because it takes an average of under 1 second to load a mobile page and it uses 10 times less data than non-AMP web pages.
Google adds new AMP Validation Tool
Google’s intent to push Accelerated Mobile Pages is unmistakable. An updated AMP testing tool is available in your Google Search Console. It combines AMP and structured data errors within its live preview to simplify your processes of ensuring code are valid. The tool is efficient on both mobile devices and desktop and utilizes Google’s “live web-search infrastructure” to evaluate your AMP pages with the real Googlebot. This means that the results show in real time.
QUESTION: What is AMP?
ANSWER: AMP is the acronym for Accelerated Mobile Pages, a Google-backed project that is an open standard so that all publishers and business sites can benefit from having web pages load quickly multiple mobile devices. AMP pages support strong user interaction.
Google continues to offer new ways to show Internet users which sites are AMP ready. Officially launched earlier this year, the project aims to trim mobile page load times to under a second. While initially focused more on news publishers, the effort now reaches its intent to include e-commerce and ad landing pages.
On September 20th, Google Inside Search announced, “Today we’re excited to announce that we’re rolling out that faster experience to users across the world. Now when you search on your mobile device, you’ll see a label that indicates a page is AMP’d.”
If you are slowing a user down with a fancy widget or giant-size image, chances are they will go somewhere else. They want results fast.
The Need For Speed: Caring About the Impact Of Page Load Speed
AMP focuses more on the performance of AMP documents and how fast they load versus worrying about tantalizing aesthetics. If users don’t interact with your web pages, then, from a real perspective of usefulness, they have failed their purpose.
Gary Illyes stated at the Search Marketing Summit the first of June 2016 in Sydney that Google will be revisiting page speed ranking factors. It is important to look at the page speed of your mobile web pages and how to improve them for the Google mobile-friendly algorithm.
If you have a super-fast desktop web page, the mobile version may be really slow. In the past we were told this would not hinder mobile rankings, however, now AMP is rolled into the core of Google Mobile Search.
On October 1, 2016, Google published an AMP Roadmap Update that storyboards the latest in ways sites can load fast and offer live-updating blogs with <amp-live-list> and more. “We continue to work on better, more immersive video experiences on AMP pages and platforms, as well as growing the AMP format for e-commerce experiences. This includes further enhancements to form support, component support for product galleries, and tabbed content navigation.”
The search giant has also improved the user experience for ads, video content, and offers addition embed options for the AMP carousel, which includes an update to enable swiping over iframes. We are also told that soon developers “will be able to collect newsletter signups, enable basic site searches, and support other core forms use cases with the amp-form extension”.
AMP Web Pages Designed to Load instantaneously
AMP pages that validate correctly are appearing more often in mobile search result carousels. Whether or not the speculations that there will be attempts to direct all mobile traffic to these versions is true, one thing is clear, you need your HTML pages to be as mobile-friendly as possible. Oncrawl.com is a useful tool to help you quickly spot and fix slow-loading pages.
In the AMP specification summary, it stresses that a key purpose of these pages is to enable the search engine to calculate the resources required to render the page prior to displaying the content. This reduces the typical number of back-and-forth, repeated round-trip process of TCP communications to establish what resources will be consumed by loading a page as well as all items on the page as well. The result in most cases in that the content delivery speed is optimized.
“Today, the expectation is that content should load super fast and be easy to explore. The reality is that content can take several seconds to load, or, because the user abandons the slow page, never fully loads at all. Accelerated Mobile Pages are web pages designed to load near instantaneously — they are a step towards a better mobile web for all,” says the AMP project site.
How to Identify What Negatively Impacts Your Page Speed
What’s clipping the load speed of your site’s web pages may not be obvious. Below are some tips on where to look:
• Your web host: It is easy to find deals and then assume that if it looks okay that you pulled that one off nicely. Many site owners are unaware that the “deal” may appear to save you money, but cost you dearly by damaging your page speed. After doing all the work of building a stunning site, loading before impatient viewers leave makes good sense. Be willing to pay for a better web host or hosting package that adequately accommodates the size of your business.
• Loading a page with off-site embedded media: One example is off-site video content, which viewers love, but can consume enormous load time. One way to improve on video load time is to host such content on your own server.
• Large and un-optimized images: While we all love large and high resolution images, they often are which too hefty of a load and can greatly hinder page speed. By using Google structured data to indicate an image and its topic, you can avoid the weight of embedded extra data and still be pulled up in image searches. Many tools are available to assist with image compression – just know when to avoid the tilt toward over-optimizing to the point of a poor quality image.
• Some browser plugins and apps: Gone are the days of limited browser choices. It is best to test how your website loads and displays on all browsers, as the time it takes to load your site can vary quite a bit. Moreover, apps like Flash are now very old school and can damage a page speed considerably.
• Over-doing the number of ads: Those who click through from SERP’s, an email footer or from a referral site to your web pages can find a high number of ads extremely annoying. Too many ads on a page diminish page speed and can take away from its primary content. It’s one thing to launch mobile ads, but another to keep speed in check and gain conversions from them.
• Heavy WordPress themes: You may have been swept into the world of options a theme offers your web designers without stopping to think that many of such highly designed themes burgeoning with a myriad of exceptional effects may actually penalize your load page. Do you really need and use so many options? And if you think so, does it matter that much if viewers are leaving before the page ever loads?
• Widgets and Gadgets: Consider the makeup of the social buttons you are choosing from, forms, calculators, or comment blocks that may negatively impact your page speed. In the long run, you may find that a faster-loading option is just as visually appealing.
Next Steps to Obtain a Better Mobile Page Speed
Congratulations! You have accomplished a lot by identifying your content and conditions that will improve mobile page speed. But the world of digital marketing has advanced and there is more you can do to do to meet high user expectations:
1. Migrate to HTTPS from HTTP for a Secure Mobile Experience
Google stated that websites which have updated to HTTPS (Secure HyperText Transfer Protocol) vs. the HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) gain a small site ranking improvement. While many argue that the boost affects less than “1 percent of global queries”, it still is favorable and is likely to “strengthen over time.”
The ‘S’ in HTTPS represents “secure”. Web sites with HTTPS in place are more secure than websites without it. No one needs to be reminded that security is a top issue. When migrating from HTTP to HTTPS, be sure to add 301 redirects each of your HTTP links to the new HTTPS links; hire a professional if needed. Next, re-submit your site index to all major search engines which prevents ‘404 page not found’ errors.
Now you are a step closer to gaining the benefits of the latest full features for mobile AdWords advertising. Next step is to engage Accelerated Mobile Pages.
2. Adopt Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
Project is an open source initiative that responds to user demand for improved mobile optimized content that can load instantly and from everywhere.
AMP Improves Mobile Page Speed by Offering Static Content
With today’s eruption of big data, companies are making better and more logical decisions from that data, which fuels searches evolvement, and as this happens, the way web content is produced and monetized changes. Instead of drawing from trillions of unstructured webpages, a semantic graph (commonly known as the knowledge graph or knowledge base) is buttressed by highly structured data.
Publishers and information providers in the digital marketing space are forced to accept that market no longer depends on unstructured information but Google Mobile Search is moving forward in immense strides with structured information and its ensuing semantics graphs. The alteration in search is already upon us. Those who prefer the use of mobile devices, talk to their cell phones and get answers, most without awareness that they are using a semantic graph. But SEOs and SEMs need to know the process of search going on behind this.
Wikipedia states that “a graph database (in theory at least) is significantly faster”. AMP pages permit Google, Twitter, and possibly others, to quickly cache, pre-load and pre-render AMP content because it’s designed to be static.
“AMP documents are from the ground up designed to be efficiently pre-renderable. Browsers have long supported pre-rendering through the <link rel=prerender> tag, but they need to be conservative about this mechanism because prerendering can be expensive. With AMP HTML we added the ability to tell a document: render yourself, but only as far as what is visible above the fold and only elements which are not CPU intensive to minimize the cost of pre-rendering. With this mechanism in place, referrers of AMP document can initiate rendering of docs before the user acts much more aggressively, so that in many cases the document will be done rendering by the time the user clicks.” – Google AMP Project
Study Proves that You Need Fast Page Speed
Slow loading websites frustrate users who may be your potential buyers. It also negatively impacts publishers when users don’t wait, so they never see your content. DoubleClick published an September 2016 article titled “The need for mobile speed: How mobile latency impacts publisher revenue”. Their findings after analyzing 10,000+ mobile web domains conclude that:
“53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than 3 seconds to load.”
“The average load time for mobile sites is 19 seconds over 3G connections.”
“Mobile sites load in 5 seconds earn up to 2x more mobile ad revenue than those whose sites load in 19 seconds.”
6 Advantages Businesses Gain by Improving Mobile Page Load Speed
According to the Google study, websites that can load around the 5 second mark versus those that average a 19 second load speed gain the following advantages:
1. 25% higher ad viewability often as a result of faster loading pages
2. 70% longer average sessions due to ease in navigation
3. 35% lower bounce rates because users stay on page longer
4. Quick visibility in Mobile SERPs displaying Google Now Cards
5. Potential for higher profits: please them and they will come back!
6. You show up fast: 47% of people expect a web page to load in two seconds or less
The study results examined the correlation between web page load speed and the amount of revenue potential. “While there are several factors that impact revenue, our model projects that publishers whose mobile sites load in 5 seconds earn up to 2x more mobile ad revenue than those whose sites load in 19 seconds.”
The Push for Video Ads and Accelerated Mobile Pages
US ad agencies know what clients hope to see in the future – Fast loading Google AMP ads.
The buying habits of digital mobile shoppers mean that smaller file sizes for using video AMP ads are the future. There is lots of proof that Google is bringing its Accelerated Mobile Pages technology to the forefront of mobile ads.
Jessica Davies of Digiday told the American Press Institute that, “talks to agencies about what they want to see from AMP ads. One creative director emphasized the importance of making sure AMP ads are scaled, which will force advertisers to adopt the format, while another agency said they wanted to see ads that use less mobile data for the user. Agencies are trying to get to the point where we can deliver rich experiences like video that can be delivered fast and don’t slow page loads.”
Consumer shopping preferences are no longer linear. A higher percentage of search queries with buyer intent are coming from mobile phones and lead to those who buy in-store. Additionally, some buyers add items to their shopping carts from a work computer but make the final purchase decision later from a tablet. Most buyers research products online from a mobile device first, and then either travel to the store to see and touch the item before buying, while others use local search from a mobile phone to find and visit the store, and later complete the purchase online.
The key point is that somewhere in the process, have a fast mobile product page that offers clear user interactions is necessary for a business to be successful today. A great mobile Site Speed Score and User Experience Score can help increase foot traffic to your business locations.
Google PageSpeed Insights makes a quick task list of important fixes and those that would be good to improve on. Gain critical and free pagespeed insights and design your user interface to accomplish more for your business!
Gain the Best Mobile Page Speed
2. Optimize images
3. Leverage browser caching
4. Avoid landing page / 301 redirects
6. Minify HTML
7. Prioritize visible content
8. Reduce server strains / response time
9. Try installing PageSpeed Server Module
10. Integrate a reputable CDN (Content Distribution Network)
Your Site’s Mobile User Experience Score
Unless you have a 100 / 100 User Experience, check which of the following components needs your attention:
1. Size tap targets – need to be adequately set so user interactions are easy
2. Avoid too many or unnecessary plugins – while it is easy to rely on plugins to simplify tasks, they can prevent some content from rendering.
3. Configure viewport – Each web page should specify viewport setting to help match to which device is being used.
4. Size content to viewport – Web page content should fit within the viewport without overflow or the need for excessive scrolling.
5. Use legible font sizes – Users’ should be able to easily read all text on your web pages.
* Be sure to have a UX designer on board with strong mobile and Accelerated Mobile Pages designing experience.
The Biggest Culprit Slow Loading Mobile Pages
Excessive number of page elements.
The more elements you load up on a web page, the more that page weighs and adds complexity to user interaction. A Google study has discover that the average web page today is a heavy 2,486KB, which is typically due to a hundred+ assets hosted across multiple and diverse servers. Often this is comprised of un-optimized, unmeasured, and unmonitored elements —and therefore slowing down web page speed. This often creates load speed volatility.
Not only that, the search behemoth finds that having complex pages correlates to fewer conversions, which can negative impact business ROI. User interfaces designed for mobile are where other’s are gaining a lead in obtaining new sales.
SEO professionals can resolve this issue by setting “performance budgets” or goals for your mobile pages. This could mean determining that your mobile pages should load within two seconds (your set “budget” for each page). Now that you have a benchmark, discard unnecessary page elements that bulk upload time that hinders that threshold. Conduct a Technical SEO audit to locate which third-party scripts on your site are impacting load times. And to reinforce it – move to AMP! HTML AMP pages are your best option today.
AMP offers Benefits Beyond Improved Mobile Speed
The great thing is that businesses don’t have to add AMP to every single page side-wide all at once.
For eCommerce website uses a popular Content Management System (CMS), getting AMP pages up and running is key not only for load speed, but for maximizing the latest mobile feature found in AdWords advertising. AMP is ideal for all forms of static web content including news related pages, reviews, videos, recipes, movie listings, product pages, reviews, blog posts and more. We find it less beneficial for single-page apps that are comprehensively dependent on sliders, dynamic or interactive features, route mapping options, or social networks.
We find that our clients can maximize budgets and time-lines by conducting a Site User-Friendly Audit and a Competitors Audit first to help determine which pages are already positioned to gain the most benefit by going AMP. Then we complete the transition to AMP by taking a client’s existing site progressively through the process.
“The process of optimizing your site for mobile is part-and-parcel of a user’s experience online. Today’s connected world has tasked marketers with thinking outside-the-box. As the connected world becomes more mobile, our job as marketers will require us to continue this line of thinking and focus on usability.” – Kaila Strong wrote on Act-On
Go Mobile AMP to BE FAST and BE SEEN
Mobile ads have generated a speed problem, and Google is working fast to speed up the ads. We know that native mobile applications are in high demand and are gaining a reputation for being faster. Mobile devices continue to get more powerful with every release cycle, which improves load speed; native apps are smart to take full advantage of that power.
Users love images – the bane of fast loading sites. They are also the backbone of most forms of mobile advertising. When you are ready, consider using a proxy to transcode your images in real-time for a faster loading mobile site. The number of images, resolutions, and image views you want on your site will only grow in time. A proxy can transcode web images based on policies, path or query parameters, which gives you the benefit of having agility while saving costs.
Additional Tools to Test for Mobile Speed / Readiness
* OOKLA – speed test for Android
* Bandwidth – Internet Speed Test for any Device, Upload/Download/Ping Speeds, HTML5 speed test for your broadband service or mobile carrier www.bandwidthplace.com/
* Oz – Broadband Speed Test for iPhone Speed Test (https://www.ozspeedtest.com)
* Google Mobile-Friendly Page test tool
* Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Validator
CONCLUSION: Move Quickly to AMP it Up and Gain a Faster Site!
Google’s open source AMP project offers business sites the chance to significantly speed up mobile web pages to better reach mobile device users. This week, Google announced that AMPlified pages will be highlighted in mobile search results more than non-AMP content. Google emphasized that this update doesn’t currently modify the search results, but there’s heavy expectation across the digital communities that AMP will likely become a ranking factor in the near future.
Such speculations are generating heated dialogs among SEOs. That’s is a norm in the midst of change, but it is best to acknowledge that the technology is here to stay, so those who act on it are already seeing the benefits.
Now you are ready to really make headway. We are poised to help you enhance your site’s attributes for Google Mobile Search.
If you’re experiencing problems gaining visibility online, don’t waste your money on a “miracle” solution by attempting some “quick fix” risky SEO tactic. Enlist a digital marketing expert and have the problems resolved. Then, invest your dollars into servicing your website properly and gaining detailed Search Progress Reports that prove you have improved your mobile load speed score. You’ll likely save time, money and frustration in the long run.