Leading digital agency, AGENT Digital, has created Ireland’s most comprehensive website speed report, surveying the page loading times of more than 1,000 individual Irish websites throughout a wide range of a Ireland’s business sectors.
Ireland’s Website Speed Report—which details Ireland’s fastest & slowest websites by business sector—highlights that the average website loading time in the Irish eCommerce (general) sector was the slowest of all sectors surveyed, with websites taking on average 10.35 seconds to load fully on a mobile device.
AGENT Digital managing director Kevin Meaney declared the research a wake-up call not just for the Irish eCommerce (general) sector but for all Irish businesses online.
“The average load time for Irish websites is more than three times the recommended industry standard of less than 3 seconds. Research shows us 53% of people will leave a mobile page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load (Google),” Mr Meaney said.
He added: “More than 64% of Irish people are searching and in excess of 16% are purchasing goods and services online through mobile devices every week (Statista). But our data shows that Irish business websites are not fast enough to adequately serve this traffic.”
The AGENT Digital report reveals that the slow page loading time of Ireland’s eCommerce (general) sector is part of a national trend, with the speed across all sectors averaging 7.76 seconds on mobile devices.
Mr Meaney explained that the focus on website speed has been intensifying over the past decade, and urged businesses to act now to align their page loading times to the industry standard of less than 3 seconds. He stated: “Google has for years aimed to load its pages in under a half-second, and regards 2 seconds as the e-commerce threshold. As long ago as 2012, Google was describing loading times of 5 seconds as an eternity in a world where fractions of seconds count (Google). And other research has concluded a delay of just one second can result in 11% fewer page views, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction and a 7% loss of conversions (Aberdeen Group).”
To bring the issue up to date and into focus for Ireland in 2018, AGENT Digital’s research team created Ireland’s Website Speed Report using Google’s web performance and speed test tools to periodically test the speed of 1,081 individual Irish websites across 29 business sectors over a 12-month period.
The research finds that websites in the Irish Professional Services (Consultancy) sector have the fastest average page-loading time on mobile devices (4.95 seconds), followed by websites in the Energy sector (6.08 seconds), and Financial Services (Insurance), where sites have an average page loading time of 6.45 seconds.
As noted, the research finds Retail eCommerce (General) sites with the slowest average loading time on mobile devices of all sectors, at 10.35 seconds, behind the 9.22 seconds for sites in the Non-Profit sector, and AgriBusiness websites, which have an average loading time on mobile devices of 9.19 seconds.
Just under half (14) of the 29 sectors surveyed have average loading times faster than the national average of 7.76 seconds. Eight of the sectors are in the immediate hinterland of the national average, including Automotive (7.02); Retail-Fashion (7.25); Technology-Sector Total (7.53); Resources (7.58); Food (7.67); Communications (7.73); Media & Marketing (7.85); and Construction 7.88). All sectors have average mobile loading times in excess of the recommended 2-3 seconds threshold.
In 2018, swift mobile loading times have become critical for two reasons. The first relates to user experience (UX) as it is right now, and how UX and sales are affected by the loading delays. There is a correlation between delays and bounce rate (the percentage of users who leave a website after viewing only one page). Bounce rate increases as page-load times increase, so longer waits are more likely to result in mobile users leaving for other websites (Akamai). In addition, it’s tougher to get mobile users to convert, because their expectations for speed and reliability are higher. While it’s impressive that more than half of overall web traffic is coming from mobile (Google), this is offset by the reality that more than 53% of mobile visitors to a site will abandon a page that takes longer than three seconds to load (Google).
“Based on the industry standard of a 3-second load time, even the quickest sector in Ireland is losing over half of their mobile site visitors. With 3.59-million smartphone users in Ireland this year, and a forecast increase to 4.06-million by 2022 (Statista), this highlights the scale of the issue.” Mr Meaney stated.
He added that the recent rollout of Google’s ‘Speed Update’ had made the issue even more urgent for Irish business website owners. “With the Google ‘Speed Update’ that was rolled out in July this year, page speed is now a ranking factor for mobile searches. Websites that are slow to load will rank lower in Google search results. It is now essentials for Irish businesses to address the problem to ensure their websites are loading as quickly as possible.” (Google)
Ireland’s Website Speed Report found no sector with average loading times of less than the recommended 2-3 seconds. This research is a wake-up call to businesses to face the challenges presented by slow loading times, and their impact on page views and customer satisfaction.
With Retail – eCommerce (General) identified as the sector with the slowest average page loading speed, a glance at the market gives an indication of the potential scale of losses.
In 2018, revenue in the Irish eCommerce market is worth around €3,502m and is expected to grow to €4873m by 2022 (Statista). However, Google and other sources warn that a delay of just 1-second could result in a 7% loss in conversions. Seen in that light, the 7-second delay averaged by Irish websites in the Retail – eCommerce (General) sector becomes a stark signifier of potential losses.
Ireland’s Website Speed Report is part of the AGENT Digital goal of helping 100,000 businesses to grow online by 2030. The report was created to make Irish brands more aware of the importance of website speed, and to help improve their online businesses.
Mr Meaney stated: “It was important for us to create this speed report to highlight the issue to Irish Businesses. Many Irish brands are simply not aware that their websites are too slow. Once the issue is highlighted it can be quickly addressed through effective website speed optimisation techniques.”
As a leading digital agency AGENT Digital specialises in website speed optimisation for leading brands both nationally and internationally. To help Irish businesses, AGENT Digital has 10 pragmatic tips that companies can take to improve their website speed immediately.
10 Tips to Improve Your Website Speed:
- Enable Compression
Optimize your coding by removing spaces, commas and other superfluous characters and marks. This can dramatically increase page loading times.
- Reduce Redirects
Keep redirects to a minimum. Every time a page redirects to another page, your visitors will have extra time waiting for the completion of the HTTP request-response cycle.
- Check your Plugins
Too many plugins will slow down a website. The browser needs time to process the plugins and assimilate them with your site. Go through all the plugins on your website, and ask if you really need each one.
- Resolve 404 Errors
404 Errors—messages indicating that the requested page is not available—can really frustrate visitors. They also slow down your site because they take up space that could exist for actual content. Remove any pages with 404 Errors, or create a 301 Redirect, a permanent redirect to another page on your site.
While rendering web pages, browsers will build a DOM Tree by parsing HTML code. However, if a Script is encountered during this process, the browser must stop and execute it before continuing.
- Leverage Browser Caching
- Improve server response time
The response time of your server is affected not only by traffic, but also by the resources your web pages are using, server software, and hosting solutions. You should always remain vigilant for performance bottlenecks, and check and fix whatever is causing them, such as slow database queries, routing, or memory issues.
- Use a Content Distribution Network
Content Distribution Networks (CDNs), also called Content Delivery Networks, are networks of servers which evenly distribute the task of content delivery.
- Optimize Images
This means ensuring all images are no larger than necessary, and in the correct format. In general, PNGs are best for graphics with fewer than 16 colours, while JPEGs are best for photographs. In either case, be sure that these images are compressed for the web and mobile devices.
Sources of information are set out below, by paragraph beginning:
“The average load time for Irish websites is more than three times…” –
- “…53% of people will leave a mobile page…” – Daniel An, Google – ‘Think With Google’, February 2018
“He added: “More than 64% of Irish people are searching…” –
- Data on Irish use of mobile devices for search and purchase online – Statista, July 2017
“Mr Meaney explained that the focus on page speed has been intensifying…”
- Urs Hölzle described 4.9 seconds as “an eternity” in “a world where fractions of a second count” – Urs Hölzle, Google SVP of Technical Infrastructure – ‘Think With Google’, January 2012
- Maile Ohye declared that 2 seconds was “the threshold for e-commerce website acceptability” and added: “At Google, we aim for under a half second.” – Maile Ohye, Google – ‘Google Webmaster Central Blog’, May 2010
- Google’s Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller, tweeted: “There’s no limit per page. Make sure they load fast, for your users. I often check webpagetest.org and aim for <2-3 secs.” – Twitter, November 2016
- Aberdeen Group found that just a 1-second delay yields 11% fewer page views, causes a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction and results in a 7% loss of conversions – Aberdeen Group – ‘The Performance of Web Applications’, November 2008
“In 2018, swift mobile loading times have become critical…”
- “Bounce rate increases as page-load times increase…” – Akamai – ‘State of Online Retail Performance’, 2017 Holiday Retrospective, May 2018
- “…more than half of overall web traffic is coming from mobile…” – Google Analytics data, US, Q1 2016 – ‘Think With Google’, September 2016
- “…53% of mobile visitors to a site will abandon a page…” – Daniel An, Google – ‘Think With Google’, September 2016
“Based on the industry standard of a 3-second load time…”
- Irish smartphone usage data – ‘Number of smartphone users in Ireland from 2015 to 2022’ – Statista, July 2017
“He added that the recent rollout of Google’s Speed Update…”
- Google Speed Update – ‘Using page speed in mobile search ranking’ – Google Webmaster Central Blog, July 2018
“In 2018, revenue in the Irish eCommerce market is worth around €3,502m…”
- ‘eCommerce Ireland Market Directory’ – Statista, August 2018