This article is a contributor piece from Alistair Robson, Principal Partner Manager at Google AdSense.
Page speed is a way of measuring the time it takes for a page to load. It’s a metric that shows how long a user has to wait before they can view and interact with a page on your website, so it’s a critical factor in the mobile user experience.
Research conducted by Google demonstrates that if a page takes longer than just three seconds to load on a mobile device, there’s a 53% chance that the user will simply leave. (Footnote 1)
So what can you do to improve page speed? Below we highlight five key steps that can help you boost page performance by minimising the time it takes for your site to load.
1 Are you using AdSense to monetize your site? See how speed affects your earnings
Calculate what a faster mobile experience is worth to you.
- First measure the speed of your site by entering the URL at PageSpeed Insights, a Google tool powered by Lighthouse.
- Then find your average eCPM, monthly queries, and match rate through AdSense.
- Use your site’s stats in this revenue calculator to out how much revenue you could earn by offering a faster experience.
2 Figure out how you measure up
Quantifying the performance of your site can help you identify which areas are most in need of improvement.
- PageSpeed Insights powered by Lighthouse scores not only your site speed but user experience, too.
- Chrome DevTools evaluates your site’s performance right in the browser in real time, enabling you to simulate network and CPU speeds, examine network loading details, and see how your site’s code affects its load time.
- Mobile-Friendly Test analyzes just how easy your site is to use on mobile, focusing not only on speed but other aspects of the user experience too.
3 Reduce the size of your pages
Declutter behind the scenes to give users a faster experience on the page. Use a tool like Ghostery to measure the bandwidth and latency impact of pixels and other elements, then eliminate those that slow you down and provide little benefit.
- Volume. Remove or reduce any bulky content. Aim for 1,000 or fewer bytes and 50 or fewer server requests.
- Images. Select and compress efficient images, and prioritize the download of visible content.
- Ads. Assess the ads running on your page. Review the latency of ad-related calls (especially when it comes to video ads) and work with low performing monetization partners to address delays.
- Tags. Consolidate data and analytics tags. Consider using Google Tag Manager. Pick third-party ad tech partners with lower latency.
- Platform. Consider building your site using open-source tools such as Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and Progressive Web Apps (PWA), which are designed to make pages load fast.
4 Prioritize the order that your page loads
Controlling the order in which elements load can do much to enhance the mobile user experience.
- Enable HTTPS and HTTP/2. Supporting modern HTTPS provides site integrity, encryption, authentication, and better user experience. Of the top 100 sites, more than one in three runs on modern HTTPS, with a quarter of them using HTTPS by default.
- Limit server requests. According to Google research, the average mobile page makes 214 server requests, some of which occur simultaneously and others than can only happen in a sequence. Review and weigh the benefit of each request on your site.
5 Measure, test, learn, repeat
Users expect speedy experiences across the web, and as mobile usage expands their demands will only increase. Addressing mobile speed isn’t a one-time deal, so it’s important to establish a process to constantly evaluate, iterate, and improve. Regularly revisit the steps outlined here, record the results of any adjustments you make, and refer back to them when making decisions about future optimizations.
When you make the commitment to create a great experience for audiences, these strategies can have a positive impact on the growth of your business.
(1) Google Data, Aggregated, anonymized Google Analytics data from a sample of mWeb sites opted into sharing benchmark data, n=3.7K, Global, March 2016