Category : Benchmarks
How does page load speed affect bounce rate?
I’ve read many articles stating a link between faster page loading and better user engagement, but with limited evidence. So I looked at hard data from 1,840 websites and found that there’s really no correlation between page load speed and bounce rate in Google Analytics. Read on to find out why. The oft quoted statistic on page load speed is from Amazon, where each 100ms of extra loading delay supposed to cost Amazon $160m. Except that the research is from 2006, when Amazon’s pages were very static, and users had different expectations from pages – plus the conclusions may not apply to different kinds of site. More recently in 2013, Intuit presented results at the Velocity conference of how reducing page load speed from 15 seconds to 2 seconds had increased customer conversion by: +3% conversions for every second reduced from 15 seconds to 7 seconds +2% conversions for every second reduced from seconds 7 to 5 +1% conversions for every second reduced from seconds 4 to 2 So reducing load speed from 15 seconds to 7 seconds was worth an extra 24% conversion, but only another 8% to bring 7 seconds down to 2 seconds. Does page speed affect bounce rate? We collected data from 1,840 Google Analytics web properties, where both the full page load time (the delay between the first request and all the items on the page are loaded) and the bounce rate were within normal range. We then applied a Spearman’s Rank Correlation test, to see if being a higher ranked site for speed (lower page load time) you were likely to be a higher ranked site for bounce rate (lower bounce rate). What we found is almost no correlation (0.18) between page load speed and bounce rate. This same result was found if we looked at the correlation (0.22) between bounce rate and the delay before page content starts appearing (time to DOM ready) So what explains the lack of a link? I have three theories 1. Users care more about content than speed Many of the smaller websites we sampled for this research operate in niche industries or locations, where they may be the only source of information on a given topic. As a user, if I already know the target site is my best source for a topic, then I’ll be very patient while the content loads. One situation where users are not patient is when arriving from Google Search, and they know they can go and find a similar source of information in two clicks (one back to Google, and then out to another site). So we see a very high correlation between bounce rate and the volume of traffic from Google Search. This also means that what should concern you is speed relative to your search competitors, so you could be benchmarking your site speed against a group of similar websites, to measure whether you are above or below average. [subscribe] 2. Bounce rate is most affected by first impressions of the page As a user landing on your site I am going to make some critical decisions within the first 3 seconds: would I trust this site, is this the product or content I was expecting, and is it going to be easy to find what I need. If your page can address these questions quickly – by good design and fast loading of the title, main image etc – then you buy some more time before my attention wanders to the other content. In 2009, Google tried an experiment to show 30 search results to users instead of 10, but found the users clicking on the results dropped by 20%. They attributed this to the half a second extra it took to load the pages. But the precise issue was likely that it took half a second to load the first search result. Since users of Google mainly click on the first 3 results, the important metric is how long it took to load those - not the full page load. 3. Full page load speed is increasingly hard to measure Many websites already use lazy loading of images and other non-blocking loading techniques to make sure the bare bones of a page is fast to load, especially on a mobile device, before the chunkier content (like images and videos) are loaded. This means the time when a page is ready for the user to interact with is not a hard line. SpeedCurve, a tool focussed entirely on web page speed performance, has a more accurate way of tracking when the page is ‘visually complete’ based on actual filmstrips on the page loading. But in their demo of The Guardian page speed, the page is not visually complete until a video advert has rendered in the bottom right of the screen – and personally I’d be happy to use the page before then. What you can do with Google Analytics is send custom timing events, maybe after the key product image on a page has loaded, so you can measure speed as relevant to your own site. But doesn’t speed still affect my Google rankings? A little bit yes, but when Google incorporated speed as a ranking signal in 2010, their head of SEO explained it was likely to penalise only 1% of websites which were really slow. And my guess is in 7 years Google has increase the sophistication with which it measures ‘speed’. So overall you shouldn’t worry about page load times on their own. A big increase may still signal a problem, but you should be focussing on conversion rates or page engagement as a safer metric. If you do want to measure speed, try to define a custom speed measurement for the content of your site – and Littledata’s experts can work with you to set that custom reporting up.
Don’t obsess over your homepage – its importance will decrease over time
Many businesses spend a disproportionate amount of time tweaking copy, design and interactive content for their homepage. Yet they miss the fact that the action is increasingly elsewhere. Homepage traffic has traditionally been seen as a proxy for ‘brand’ searches – especially when the actual search terms driving traffic are ‘not provided’. Now, brand search traffic may be finding other landing pages directly. Our hypothesis was that over the last 2 years the number of visits which start at the homepage, on the average website, are decreasing. To prove this, we looked at two categories of websites in Littledata’s website benchmarks: Websites with more than 20,000 monthly visits and more than 60% organic traffic (227 websites) Large websites with more than 500,000 monthly visits (165 websites) In both categories, we found that the proportion of visits which landed on the homepage was decreasing: by 8% annually for the smaller sites (from 16% of total visits to 13% over two years), and 7% annually for the larger sites (from 13% to 11%). If we ignore the slight rise in homepage traffic over the November/December period (presumably caused by more brand searches in the Christmas buying season), the annual decline is more than 10%. From the larger websites, only 20% showed any proportionate increase in homepage traffic over the 2 years – and those were mainly websites that were growing rapidly, and with an increasing brand. I think there are three different effects going on here: Increased sophistication of Google search usage is leading to more long-tail keywords, where users want a very specific answer to a question – usually not given on your homepage. The increase in mobile browsing, combined with the frustrations of mobile navigation, is leading more users to use search over navigation – and bypass your homepage That Google’s search-engine result page (SERP) changes have made it less likely that brand searches (searching for your company or product names) will navigate to your landing page – and instead browse social profiles, news, videos or even local listings for your company. In conclusion, it seems that for many businesses the homepage is an increasing irrelevance to the online marketing effort. Spend some time on your other content-rich, keyword-laden landing pages instead! And would you like to see if you are overly reliant on your homepage traffic, compared with similar websites? Try Littledata’s reporting suite. Get Social! Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook and keep up-to-date with our Google Analytics insights.
Tips on how to improve your conversion rate optimisation (CRO)
It’s Black Sunday – not Black Friday
The biggest day for online retail sales among Littledata’s clients is the Sunday after Black Friday, followed closely by the last Sunday before Christmas. Which is more important - Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Cyber Monday saw the biggest year-on-year increase in daily sales, across 84 surveyed retailers from the UK and US. In fact, Cyber Monday is blurring into the Black Friday weekend phenomenon – as shoppers get used to discounts being available for longer. We predict that this trend will continue for 2016, with the number of sales days extending before and after Black Friday. Interested in what 2016 will bring? Stay tuned for our upcoming blog post! Want to see how you did against the benchmark? Sign up for a free trial or get in touch if you have any questions! Get Social! Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook and keep up-to-date with our Google Analytics insights.
New in Littledata: an improved navigation, trend detection algorithm, and more
We’ve got some exciting news! We’ve launched some great updates on our web app, which will make your lives a little easier. Find out how the navigation has improved and new in-app messaging will help you find out more, get a glimpse into our trend detection algorithm and new reports on mobile devices! Our mission is to make the way you gain access to important analytics, an all-around easier process and we know we’re heading in the right direction with these updates. We already give you actionable and easier to understand insights of your Google Analytics and now we’ve made the experience more friendly based on your invaluable feedback! Find your reports quicker We’ve improved the navigation of the web app, giving you one new category, and two updated categories on the left-hand side of your profile, which are now simpler to find and easier to understand. There are currently three categories: Dashboard, Benchmark, and Reports, which will be visible to you depending on your Littledata package. Instead of having them in separate locations, we brought them together into one navigation panel so that you can find specific reports and findings quickly based on your current questions or company needs. Under the reports category, we have changed types of reports into tags. Now you can select one or multiple tags, and decide how you prefer to view the different types of insights you get. For example, if you want to view your trends reports with tips you’re getting, then all you need to do is select those two. The benchmark category brings together all the benchmark metrics available for your site, and to see more detail click on the individual benchmark you’re interested in. You can still see the category you are being benchmarked against just above your benchmarks. If your current category is ‘all websites’ then you should make this more specific by updating the category in the settings. The Dashboard is the latest addition to these categories, which we added to be able to provide a flexible and customised solution that is perfect for reporting needs that go beyond standard Google Analytics reports. See below for more detail. Get our custom dashboard This is a new feature, available to clients who are also receiving consulting services on top of our Pro package. Please contact one of our lovely experts if you’d like to know more about these features, and how they can give you the results you strive for. The dashboard category is completely customisable, which we develop through consulting services by going over what your goals and needs are, and then creating these reports for simple and actionable insights of your data. These reports are completely flexible and allow you to see metrics that are difficult to view in Google Analytics, which include: Calculations, such as performance changes in percentages and conversion rates Combined metrics and dimensions from different reports Custom visualisations of trends based on how you prefer to see the data. Want to include a pie or bar chart? Not a problem. A custom schedule for dashboard data refresh. If your reporting requires weekly, quarterly or annual updates, we’ll set it up for you. Customised reports based on your formatting preferences, so if you'd like to include your brand colours, it's a possibility! Our smarter algorithm When we started Littledata, we developed a trend detection algorithm to find significant changes in your data and send you alerts, reducing the time spent wading through data in Google Analytics. But as times change and data gets busier, we needed a better way to serve your reporting needs. So recently we collaborated with mathematicians to improve the algorithm, which is now sensitive enough to pick up small changes in low traffic website, but also specific enough to ignore the random noise of daily traffic. Want to hear more about this intriguing story? Find out more in our blog post: Making the detection of significant trends in your traffic easier to see! Are mobile devices losing you customers? Analytics from mobile devices is extremely important. Through our web app, you will find out how many transaction or users you lost due to poor experience on mobile devices. According to Dave Chaffey at Smart Insights, 80% of internet users own a smartphone. A growing number of people are searching through their phones and as a result, we’ve incorporated mobile devices reports. They will spot and highlight potential issues around responsiveness, layout or bugs. Finding out which devices are the worst will allow you to optimise your website and campaigns to capture all of these individuals. Your personalised communication We completely agree with Intercom’s belief that “customers today want to communicate with the people behind the business, not with a faceless brand”! This is why we’ve integrated their messenger into our web app so that you can chat with us directly and quickly. There’s a great deal of custom features available, including formatting, delivery, and most importantly the different ways to respond. You can choose your own way to chat and react, with images, audio, emojis, video, and more. If you want to know more about the expert you’re talking to, you can view their profile within the app. Our customer experience is key in our business model and we hope this function delivers that. If you have any questions regarding any of the new features, please contact us, or use the in-app messenger! Image credit: Image courtesy of Smart Insights and Intercom
A win for the UK digital sector: UK sites perform better than US sites in benchmark
UK-based websites are 5 percentage points better than their US peers at keeping mobile users engaged (with a lower bounce rate), and 2.5 percentage points better at keeping the users from desktop / laptop computers engaged. For bounce rate from email marketing, the difference was also 5 percentage points (a 14% better performance from UK websites). The comparison is based on the Google Analytics data from 209 UK companies and 95 US companies collated by Littledata. The British web industry has benefited from earlier smartphone adoption in the UK (81% vs 75% in the US; source: MarketingLand), and overall greater internet usage from UK consumers (source: Econsultancy). That should put UK-based developers in a great position to sell their experience to other countries with increasing internet adoption An example is MADE.com, a London-based furniture retailer which has used superior online customer acquisition to drive growth across the UK and continental Europe. Littledata founder, Edward Upton, explains: “It’s usually hard to get a hold of industry data to compare digital product performance against similar companies, but Littledata’s benchmarks provide a simple way for companies to find website features that are underperforming.” If your website beats those benchmarks that should not stop you improving. Whilst it’s great to know you’re doing well in a particular area, there are many comparative metrics you can check with our benchmarks to fully understand your performance overall. If your site is struggling with engaging users, then check out our suggestions on improving your bounce rate . Want to know how your site performs? Head over to Littledata Benchmark page and click 'Benchmark your site' to check your performance against others. How Littledata benchmarks work? We gather data from thousands of Google Analytics profiles, and anonymise them in a series of benchmarks, to give insight into how your marketing efforts are paying off. With this benchmark data, you can stop being in the dark about how your website performs and sign up to see how your site compares. Our customers also receive daily insight into site or app performance with our actionable trends reports. You can explore these and other benchmarks via Littledata Benchmark index page. How would you use benchmarks in your daily work? Leave your comments below.
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