Every year, the human attention span decreases by 88%. As consumers expect deliveries to arrive on their doorstep faster, the same sense of urgency also applies to website page speed or page load time. The average consumer expects a web page to load in 2 seconds or less — and 70% say website page speed influences their purchasing decisions (for better or for worse).
As consumer demands have shifted, so have Google algorithms. While page speed first became a search engine ranking factor for desktop in 2010, and then mobile in 2018, how it relates to the user experience will become more of a focus for Google with the Core Web Vitals algorithm update, scheduled to roll out in the near future.
The combination of these elements stresses the need for businesses to find ways to increase their website page speed. But before that step, there are some common page speed analysis questions to address — the answers to which will help guide you throughout your optimization.
Google’s benchmark for web page load times is less than 3 seconds. As research shows, 40% of consumers will leave a web page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
To put this into perspective, as of 2018, the average time for a mobile web page to fully load is 15.3 seconds. (Mobile web page load times tend to be slightly slower than on desktop, due to their enhanced processors.)
When website pages take longer to load, website visitors are less likely to interact on their first visit (or return for future visits). This quick exit translates into a higher web page bounce rate. Google reports that as page time increases from 1 to 5 seconds, the likelihood of a bounce rises by 90%.
While a high bounce rate (and subsequently low conversion rates) can be an indicator of poor page speeds, the Google PageSpeed Insights tool helps to validate these concerns. From the speed at which page contents are visibly populated to the time it takes for the page to become fully interactive, weighted metrics paint a clearer picture of web page performance — and where there are opportunities for improvement.
On the other hand, a low bounce rate and high conversion rate can be indicative of a web page with an optimal page speed, which the Google PageSpeed Insights tool can also help to affirm.
When you analyze a website page in the Google PageSpeed Insights tool, you’ll receive a score that falls within one of three color-coded categories:
A score of 90-100 is considered a good user experience, but a lower score doesn’t always mean there’s cause for concern. Is your web traffic still growing in spite of your page speed? Are you still getting conversions on the page? If you’re seeing positive results on these fronts, take them into consideration — and lean deeper into individual metrics versus the total score.
After running a page speed analysis in the morning, you come back with a score of 55. But just a day later, 50 is the number you see — without any changes having been made to the website. The reason for this discrepancy can be attributed to a few different variables.
Take local network availability, for instance. If you move to an environment with a slower internet connection or test a web page during peak traffic hours, page load times are likely to be slower on both mobile and desktop platforms — and your page speed score will decrease. Load times can also be longer when you have more items running on your computer or phone, with greater demand placed on the memory and processing power of the device.
It’s also possible that a shift in Google algorithms is the culprit. While Google will announce big updates to page speed analysis, there are small updates happening on a regular basis that can alter the weight of page speed score metrics as well as introduce new variables for evaluation.
Now that you have a clearer understanding of the benchmarks and myths around page speed analysis, the next step is to put these insights into action. In a follow-up blog post, we’ll walk you through meaningful steps you can take to increase your website page speed so you can enhance your SEO, build a better user experience and improve your bottom line. Stay tuned!