Any conversion happens on a webpage when a user takes the action that the designers of the webpage wanted them to take. Whether it is deciding to make a product purchase or filling out a contact form, many actions constitute user conversions.
By conversion rate what is meant is the percentage of the total number of visitors to the website that end up buying a product or service. Website owners use conversion rate optimization technique to push this figure to as high a value as possible. This is usually an ongoing process for any organization/brand because the conversion rate will never touch 100 percent.
How Does Website Speed Affect Conversion Rates?
There are many factors that affect conversion rates of a webpage and page speed and conversion rate are intricately connected. Many studies have indicated that faster page speeds result in better conversion rates.
Webpage speed is the speed with which the webpage loads. The faster a webpage loads there are more chances that the user performs the intended action on that webpage. Now, the next question is how quickly should a webpage load?
It pays to understand that conversion rate is also affected by factors such as design of the page, its layout, the images, text, etc. When too many options are presented to a page visitor, leaving them confused as to what to do next, they may just abandon the page after all. However, even without all these issues, website speed, if optimized, will serve to improve conversion rates even if other areas of the page require to be changed.
Page speed affects SEO and, therefore, improving page speed also improves the total traffic and therefore the conversion rates subsequently.
Image Courtesy: Cloudflare.com
Google Page Load Time Study – The Current Scenario
According to the latest Google page load time study, in which they analysed over 11 million landing pages of mobile ads spanning 213 countries, they found that an average landing page loads in about 22 seconds on a mobile device. This is because there were too many elements on the page that made the loading slow down. The same study has also indicated that about 53% of users will leave a page if the page-load time exceeds 3 seconds.
Today, according to Google’s studies, the average speed of mobile pages is not meeting the expectations of the users. This is true for almost all of the websites across the different genres.
Google found out as part of their study that about three-quarters of the pages take 7 seconds to load visual content. All the content below and above the fold took a clear 10 seconds to load. This is a good enough signal for the user to abandon the site right away and such an action contributes to a slow website conversion rate.
Every extra second of loading time results in an abysmal decrease of 16% in customer satisfaction. The chances that the user abandons the site (or the bounce rate) when the load time goes from 1 second to 10 seconds rises to 123%.
Of all the pages that were analysed, 70% of them were over 1 MB in size, 36% were over 2 MB in size, and 12% over 4 MB in size. In real life, this means that a page of size 1.49 MB would take about 7 seconds to load even with a fast 3G connection.
Google has found out that webpages from retail, automotive, and technology sectors take the maximum time to load.
The Effects of Page Load Speed on Conversion Rates
When webpages took 1 second less to load, conversions were found to increase by 2 percent. In another page speed case study by Mobify, a 100 millisecond improvement in the webpage load time caused a 1.11% increase in conversions.
The seemingly tiny increases are important because of the huge impacts they have on the site’s revenue generation. If any E-commerce site has revenues of about 10 million dollars annually, a 2% increase in conversion rates means a $200,000 in sales revenue.
Shoppers abandon the shopping carts on E-commerce websites and customers give up when they are not able to make payments on banking sites. If a page loads slowly, it not only affects the conversion rates of those visitors that are currently on the pages but also potentially deters visitors from visiting your site in the future.
What Should Site Owners Do Now to Keep up Page Load Speeds?
In spite of the fact that more than 50% of all web traffic comes from mobile devices, it has been noted by the Google page load time study that more conversions happen on the desktop rather than on the mobile. Even with most traffic occurring on 4G rather than 3G currently, a majority of mobile sites are very slow even now.
Almost all the webpages are stuffed with too many elements. If the number of elements increases to 6,000 from a value of 400, the user conversion rate drops by 95% and this is severe.
According to Google’s latest studies, a saving of 250 KB can be made by 25% of the pages if they simply compress the text and images. About 10% of the pages can make a saving of 1 MB in this manner. The genres that can make sizeable savings are those of travel, healthcare and retail.
As far as mobile pages are concerned, the most important factors are size and speed. The marketers are bound to keep the users engaged and should spend a sufficient amount of time on building mobile-first experiences.
Some mobile page speed benchmarks are discussed below. We have provided some real-life values across the world as well as recommended figures or guidelines according to the best practices.
- Average Speed Index is a measure of how quickly the mobile page displays contents to users. A lower value is better. In the USA, technology sites are pretty slow and in Europe, automotive sites take the longest to display. Best practices indicate that the average speed index should be less than 3 seconds.
- Average Time to First Byte is a measure of how fast and responsive a mobile server is for display in a specific category. In this case too, a lower value is considered better. In the US, finance sites take about 2.3 seconds to load and are the slowest. They are followed by travel sites. In the UK, travel sites take 2.1 seconds to load. Best practices recommend this figure to be under 1.3 seconds.
- Average Request Count is the number of singular pieces of content that are required to be displayed for the entire mobile page. Here also a lower number is favourable. In the USA, automotive sites lead the way with the most number of elements followed by retail and technology in that order. In Japan, packaged consumer goods are the heaviest websites, closely followed by healthcare. The best practices suggest that you restrict the number of individual content elements to 50 on a mobile webpage.
- Weight is yet another factor and this is the measure of the size of a webpage and it is indicated in bytes. The best practices suggest that you keep it at a value less than 500 KB for easy and fastest page loading times.
In view of the meteoric rise of mobile traffic, Google now has its Mobile-First Index which is the ranking page of Google that contains websites primarily based on performance of mobile websites instead of performances on the desktop. Therefore, it pays for website owners to be aware of this factor and improve page loading speed to near the ideal mobile page speed values.
This also leads to the fact that the mobile page speed would affect the SEO rankings in the times to come.
When it comes to the ideal mobile page speed times, it should be less than 3 seconds. For this, website owners could use free tools that are available (Google Page Speed Insights, Pingdom, GTmetrix, etc.) for quick analysis and set right the trailing aspects. It is also worth taking a look at Google Page Speed Rules to take action right away.
Website owners should be conversant with the global perspective on mobile page speeds across all industry sectors and become familiar with the latest guidelines for speed, size of the webpage and the optimum number of content pieces on a single webpage.
It is also a good idea to continue checking these metrics at regular intervals as these values will be constantly changing. In case you do not want to set reminders, look out for tools that will serve you the metrics on a daily basis after running tests. Some such tools are MachMetrics, SpeedCurve, etc.
Now that you have a fair idea about how importantly your page speed and conversion rate are connected, the best way to get ahead of your competitors is to ensure that your values are better than the industry standards. You latest resolution should be a faster website and this will surely help you to stay on the top.