Google’s help and hindrance pendulum is swinging towards help for mobile users. The internet capstone has developed a way of making slow-loading pages quicker on mobile handsets that have laboured connectivity.
The company has called the initiative ‘transcoding’ which really means that what webmasters haven’t done for themselves, Google will do it for you. However, this means blocking out heavy content so pages will load quicker.
So for online retailers, the pendulum could swing towards hindrance.
Still, Google does have good intentions. They want to provide users with an enjoyable user-experience, even if that means cutting the arms off retailers at the elbows. After all, why should Google care, they pull in around $16m a quarter from advertisers they chop arms off. So you can’t slap them.
The testing ground for ‘transcoding’ has been Indonesia which has a high percentage of 2G broadband. Early tests show 50 per cent of pages have faster load times once they are stripped of bytes.
On the upside, fast-loading websites are proven to increase conversions. In 2013, Kissmetrics reported that mobile users will log out of a website that has not loaded up within three seconds. Three seconds! Now that is impatient.
But take it as a warning. Slow sites get you nowhere fast. Google are actually doing you a favour. Now it is up to you that you do not lose the most relevant content that will negatively impact on online sales.
Stripped down web design
Google say the way to speed up load times is to remove irrelevant content. The problem retailers face is they have no control over what content Googlebots consider relevant. For starters, much of the design is stripped away so there is little point paying developers to design a website full of bells and whistles.
Ironically, Google ads are not removed and they are the last thing mobile users want interfering with their user-experience that Google is trying to improve. The pendulum swings.
But the upside is, a fast-loading webpage is more likely to retain visitors than a slow loader, and there is a link that gives users the option to visit the fully transcoded version of your website. Furthermore, most mobile users around the globe are connected to 3G or 4G broadband and are not affected by slow downloads.
When Google launch transcoding worldwide however, it could have serious consequences. Sites that use videos for example are notoriously slow, so too mainstream newspapers. If this is the case with your website, you will have to find a way of making your website lightweight without losing your most important content.
Planning transcoded content
There is no avoiding transcoding and you will have to wait and see how badly affected your website is before you take action. The good news for most retailers is that fast-loading pages can have a positive impact on conversions.
So to take advantage of Google’s transcoding, don’t pitch too much heavy content on one page. If you are using images and videos, purchasing processes will have to spread across three or more pages starting with a landing page to raise interest/desire, a second page with images and bullet features, optional video page and finally a separate page for detailed product descriptions.
We know by now that Google do what they think is best for end-users. Whether consumers will agree that stripped down web designs and page hopping is a good idea awaits to be seen, but what we do know is that online shoppers are impatient and have a “need for speed”.
So be a Top Gun!