The Relation Between Page Speed and Website Performance



The average web page today takes a whopping 87.84% longer to load on mobile as opposed to desktop. How can you harness this insight to drive website performance?

As an internet user, you may not be surprised to find out that websites (on average) still take twice as long to load on mobile as they do on desktops.

Yes, this is October 2019, and the data comes from Brian Dean’s latest research.

Despite the push to build ‘mobile-first’ apps and websites since 2010 (Eric Schmidt, Google CEO at the Mobile World Congress), the average web page today takes a whopping 87.84% longer to load on mobile as opposed to desktop.

My hunch, as someone who has dealt with marketing and brand managers since more than 10 years now, is that marketers still don’t understand what the big deal is if a website takes 2 seconds to load rather than 1.

It’s a big deal.

Allow me to explain in two parts.

First, let’s look at the humans. Have you ever encountered an image that just won’t load, or a payment page that just got stuck, with that loading icon revolving forever?

With a lot of patience, chances are, you didn’t cross the 10 second mark before you hit the refresh button, or navigated away, or got distracted by something else - a notification from another app, perhaps?

For a species that loves to queue (talking to British people here), it’s almost strange how we don’t like to wait. The newer generations even more so.

It’s critical for marketers to design fast web experiences regardless of the industry or sector because people want to quickly pay their bills and move on, or get instant results when looking through vacation reviews, or view a news report immediately when they click on the link.

If there’s a little more friction than people have patience for, they’ll bounce off your site in a heartbeat.

As page load time goes from 1 second to 3 seconds, the probability of bounce increases 32%.

As page load time goes from 1 second to 5 seconds, the probability of bounce increases 90%.

As page load time goes from 1 second to 6 seconds, the probability of bounce increases 106%.

As page load time goes from 1 second to 10 seconds, the probability of bounce increases 123%.

Source: Google/SOASTA Research, 2017.

Now, let’s look at the machines. The robots.

In case you’re not aware already, the Internet is mostly bots. Like little worker bees, all these robots are busy refreshing your Facebook feeds, or sending information to Google to help them rank web pages in search results. There are good robots and bad robots, and together, they’re responsible for 52% of web traffic.

Behind the scenes, to speed up the process of information gathering, bots are constantly sending ranking signals to Google.

As you can imagine from the Google research above, Page Speed is one of the ranking signals bots are reporting on, because that’s what impacts user behaviour.

This data, in turn, influences where and how deep in the search results your website pages will appear.

You’d be surprised to find out that the average page loading speed for a web page is 10.3 seconds on desktop and 27.3 seconds on mobile.

As someone working to get more traffic to your website, you have a full plate already. You’re looking at Analytics, you’re optimising your Google Ads, you’re posting regularly on Facebook and Instagram, and you have a solid content strategy to capture people’s interest in your brand or product when they visit your website.

But are you losing out because of Page Speed?

Or, to put it another way, could you double the traffic on your website by enhancing mobile page load speed?

There’s no doubt in my mind that for most of our clients, improving page speed amounts to a quick win. Your bounce rates go down, average time spent on the page goes up, number of leads captured goes up, and most importantly, your web pages win higher keyword ranks leading to more traffic - all because your web pages load faster on mobile.

However, improving your page speed may not be so simple. It’s not rocket science, but it’s pretty close.

Your content management system (CMS) will have its own set of limitations that you will need to consider (Wordpress and Wix ranked poorly in Brian Dean’s research).

You need to look at what assets to load first and their priority from a javascript point of view.

Then you need to see how you can reduce the page weight by reducing the number of fonts, scripts and content.

You will need to revisit which third-party apps or plugins you’ve integrated with your web pages (Hubspot or Salesforce CRMs, for example) and what effect they’re having on load times.

In the end, you need to see the level of compression you have on your website. Generally speaking, it’s all good if you have very low or very high levels of GZIP compression, but if you’re in the middle somewhere, chances are, your page speed is taking a hit.

Images play an extremely important role in website performance as well. They take up a significant chunk of the page’s overall size. But then they also make the website look more aesthetically pleasing to the users, unless they take ages to load. So a consideration in this regard could be to switch images to WebP format instead of JPGs and PNGs. And then, of course, you can optimise images.

Another thing to incorporate with image optimisation are responsive images rather than lazy loading.

And last, but not least, is looking at your web hosting providers. Server response times have the greatest impact on TTFB. You can also look at your host countries and consider moving your host to China, Japan or Germany, who have the fastest TTFB load times. This includes moving your CDN provider.

I hope reading this has given you some idea into how to achieve faster page speeds that can help you get a better performing website. Please leave comments or responses below and if you need help with your website, send me a DM on Twitter. I go by @nubeals.