Google's new mobile benchmark data report, released early this year, has a ton of useful for information for developers looking to improve mobile performance. Considering how important the mobile experience is these days, it's definitely worth a read.
One section that Google went in-depth on was the issue of mobile bounce rates. We already took a look at how mobile sites that fail to load within 3 seconds are just asking for a high bounce rate. But Google also delved deeper into benchmark data for a variety of industry comparisons that can help you find out exactly what parts of your mobile site to improve. Let's jump into the data to find out what suggestions Google is making behind the scenes.
Tactics to Reduce Your Mobile Bounce Rate
1. Put More Resources into Mobile Efforts
Mobile websites still have a long ways to go. We tend to say that a lot around here, but it keeps on being true! Google compared bounce rates between devices and found that desktop and laptop sites tend to have an average bounce rate of around 31% - quite good, actually. But on tablets like the iPad, this number jumps up to around 35%, and on smartphones like the iPhone it shoots to 45%. That's nearly a 15% difference that comes just from switching devices!
What does this tell us? Mobile still needs more attention: The higher bounce rate is primarily caused by content that hasn't been optimized and slow performance, the two big factors that make users skip over to a different site.
The takeaway is that someday in the distant future, it may be time to decrease spending on mobile optimization. But it's definitely not today. Don't be afraid to expand your budget to make sure there is no gap between your mobile and desktop bounce rates.
2. Study Your Industry Benchmark Data for Speed
We touched on this before, but the Retail, Technology, Travel, and Automotive industries all have the worst mobile speeds in the United States (interestingly, the numbers are very similar around the developed world), around 9.5 to 11.3 seconds to load. However, Business and Industrial Markets fared better at 8.7 seconds. Considering that visitors tend to making up their minds second by second while waiting for a site to load, that's an appreciable difference (Classifieds and Finance were the only industries that performed better).
Even if you can't get below that treasured 3 second market, at least aim to do better than 8.7 seconds. That will put you ahead of the majority in the B2B world, which is much better than staying behind the pack.
3. Lower Your "Weight"
Weight refers to the average number of bytes per page. This is anotherkey performance indicator because the more bytes, the longer a page will take to load, even if your server performance is top notch.
The B2B industry does pretty well with weight as well, holding an average of 1.6MB, far better than then 2.1MB of the Automotive industry or the 2.3MB of the Travel industry. If you have specific pages that have a significantly higher weight than 1.6MB, look into simplifying your page code and removing some more unnecessary elements to create a leaner page. Leaner pages load faster and reduce bounce rates, so don't underestimate the importance of this metric! Note that the finance industry has the best average weight at 1.3MB, so take a look at finance sites for inspiration if you want new ideas.
4. Lower The Number of Request Counts
Each individual piece of content on your webpage needs a separate request when it's being displayed. The average request count shows how many requests are needed to fully load a page. As you can imagine, busier or more complex websites can have a lot of requests, which will quickly slow down mobile load time to a snail's pace.
The B2B industry has an average of 83 requests per page: When looking at your requests, try to get your numbers down to 50, Google's recommended level. It's understandable that more intense pages, like your home page, go above this number, but simpler landing/product pages should have low request levels. It could be worse – Technology sites have an average of 140 requests per page, and Automotive sites have 119.
Note: There's a lot of synergy between weight and request counts. Lowering one will almost always lower the other. Fun!
5. Improve Your Server Performance
Google calls this metric "time to first byte," or how soon the website starts to load after the visitor taps their phone. This helps measure how fast your web server is: In the U.S., the average time to first byte for B2B companies is 2.7 seconds.
Here the B2B industry leaves its typically speedy performance to become the worst industry, by far, in the category. Even poor-performing Technology sites have an average of 2.1 seconds. What's the reason? B2B companies may have trouble picking hosting and servers based on performance instead of cost. Remember, your mobile site performance is worth more investment if you can bump your server performance higher with a better package.