The launch of a new digital campaign is an exciting time, and with every new launch comes expectations, many of which are tied to revenue. However, nothing is worse than when those expectations fall flat, and you’re left with disappointment, a sense of failure and the burning question: What went wrong?
There is one critical factor that could be sabotaging your digital campaigns, and the worst part is that most people don’t even know it. The culprit? Site speed.
Every day the percentage of mobile traffic heading to your site is likely increasing. Why? Most people are searching on the go and, as a result, their expectations for a fast page-loading experience are higher than ever. The reality is that 40 percent of mobile internet users say they will abandon a site if it doesn’t load within 3 seconds or less.
And if your page falls short, things could go south fast. Plus, there is another critical reason to care about speed — Google and PPC advertising, such as Facebook, have started to care. Recently, Google started taking speed into consideration when ranking and indexing for the mobile experience. So, how fast is your website, and could it be faster? The answer might surprise you.
Why Google Dropped The Hammer On Mobile Speed
Simply put, Google is looking to provide the best user experience possible. Nothing is worse than searching online, clicking on what seems like a good link, and sitting and waiting for what feels like forever. Frustration sets in and you quickly click the back button. Game over.
Google wants to create a better product for consumers and deliver the search results that people are seeking. They realized several years ago that site speed has a big effect on the user experience, so in 2010 page speed officially became a ranking factor.
Before then, less people were browsing on their mobile devices. As a result, mobile was not really a factor in search engine results.
Recently, that changed, as smartphone usage reached critical mass, and Google updated their algorithm to include consideration of how fast a mobile page loads. But slow-loading pages do not affect just your performance with native advertising, they also affect paid advertising, such as Facebook ads. Let us explain.
Mobile Page Speed And Its Impact On Facebook Advertising
A prospect may find your site through the Google search engine, click the link and visit your landing page. If your mobile site is fast, this will help your native advertising. PPC advertisers, such as Facebook, also took notice of how mobile page-loading speed plays into the customer experience. Slow-loading pages aren’t useful to customers, and they also don’t help the brand’s advertising efforts. As a result, Facebook took action and now slow page-loading speed can sabotage paid advertising efforts. But how does this work?
Facebook says they use “prefetching to ensure that before showing your ad, they’re sure the mobile content will load fast enough.”
The company recently said, “Today, we’re introducing prefetching — pre-loading mobile content in the Facebook in-app browser before a link is tapped. This can shorten mobile site load time by 29 percent, or 8.5 seconds, improving the experience and decreasing the risk of site abandonment.”
Facebook knows that 40 percent of people abandon sites that don’t load within 3 seconds. As a result, the goal is to increase ad performance and customer engagement. They also know that when an ad loads too slowly, the user is more likely to become disengaged and less likely to convert to a paying customer. So what action can you take?
Facebook has a few recommendations for improving the mobile experience and, consequently, capturing greater impact from each new PPC campaign. They recommend the following:
Use the Facebook Canvas ad format. This ad format is a full-screen and mobile-optimized post-click experience that helps your mobile content load faster, whether users are on an Android or iOS. According to Facebook, Canvas leverages the same technology used to display photos quickly in the Facebook app, and can load up to 10 times faster than the standard mobile web.
Related: What is a Landing Page?
Optimize for greater conversions. Facebook also recommends that you optimize mobile pages for greater conversions. They recommend that if you care most about enticing people to take a specific action on your website, you should select the website conversions objective when creating an ad (instead of just sending people to your website). But how do you do this? You can accomplish this by installing the Facebook pixel. When creating an ad for website conversions, select the conversion event that you want to optimize for during the experience. For example, you may want to optimize for the purchase page or the thank-you page.
The recommendations above include a couple of tips for making your mobile pages faster and more efficient for PPC Facebook ads, but what about search engines? If organic search results depend on your site loading faster, what can you do to make those pages load faster? We’re glad you asked.
Mobile Pages — Design Them For Speed
The stats and research are clear — web pages must load fast during the mobile experience. But how can you understand how fast your pages are loading right now, and how can you make the fixes that ensure they are optimized for the mobile experience? Here are a few tips for understanding and improving your mobile performance for search engines.
Understand your current speed. Before you take any additional steps, test your existing mobile site speed. Check out Think with Google.
Simply enter the URL in the search field and click the arrow button. Make sure you test your regular URL (not the mobile URL that starts with an “m”). The tool can understand how fast your site loads in mobile by using only your standard URL.
For example, let’s check out popular bidding site eBay to see how its mobile speed stacks up:
The results show that the loading time is rated as “fair,” and the company is losing 24 percent of visitors due to loading time. You’ll also notice that the mobile loading time clocks in at 6 seconds. Do you remember the magic number, where you start to lose searchers? That’s right, it’s 3 seconds. So even large brands may have work to do.
Create a mobile-first design. In the beginning, when smartphones became popular and people began accessing the internet on their devices, there were two different versions of a website. First, there was a desktop version, and then a mobile revision, which had an “m” in the domain name.
However, the mobile version often did not offer the full functionality of the website, offering only limited features. In contrast, a responsive design allows the site to be automatically adjusted based on how the user is accessing the site. Google says, “A responsive design is Google’s recommended design pattern.” This is likely because a responsive design typically loads faster than other design options.
Use fewer images. Images are an important part of a website, but use too many and it can slow down your site — big-time. Plus, consider the fact that from 2011 to 2015 the size of the average mobile page tripled. And do you know what makes up 63 percent of the page’s weight? You guessed it: images.
If you’re struggling with slow load times, look first to images. Do you have too many, or are the file sizes too large? If so, compress the images with tools such as Compressor.io.
Minimize redirects. Redirects are useful and allow you to redirect a specific web page to a new location. Too many, however, will slow down your website. This is especially true during the mobile experience when the server has to work harder to hunt down the page. Not sure how many redirects your site currently has? Check out Varvy’s Redirect Mapper so you can discover how many redirects you have on each page.
Speed is critical and has always been an important factor when dealing with customers. But today’s customers crave information faster than ever before, and if you miss the mark, they’re lost forever.
However, when you invest time evaluating the speed of your current mobile experience, and answer the question “How can we get faster?” you’ll naturally perform better with search engines and PPC efforts — multiplying results for both existing and future digital campaigns.