Facebook gets a mini Mobilegeddon

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Last year, Google changed its algorithm to favor mobile-friendly sites. The change was dubbed Mobilegeddon as it threatened businesses that had not built mobile-friendly sites with lower rankings.

Now, Google rival Facebook is weighing in on mobile-friendliness. Citing research, the social network says up to 40% percent of users will abandon a mobile site after three seconds of delay. That, for obvious reasons, is problematic for advertisers with slow-loading mobile sites who are paying Facebook for clicks.

To address the issue, Facebook is taking several steps.

First, it is encouraging advertisers to improve the mobile-friendliness of their websites using many of the techniques Google’s mobile-friendly test already recommends. These include compressing files, minimizing use of redirects and plugins, removing render-blocking JavaScript and using Content Delivery Networks (CDNs).

Second, Facebook has built a prefetching system that identifies ads users are likely to click on and automatically retrieves some of the HTML content from the ad links in the Facebook in-app browser before they’re clicked. The company says can reduce mobile site load times by up to 29% or 8.5 seconds. Since advertisers can’t opt out of prefetching, Facebook includes a header that advertisers and third-party, tag-based measurement companies can use to identify prefetch requests.

Third, the world’s largest social network has created a number of ways for advertisers to engage users without taking them off-site. In addition to Facebook Pages, Facebook offers Canvas Ads, “an immersive and expressive experience on Facebook for businesses to tell their stories and showcase their products.” Designed with mobile in mind, Facebook says Canvas content loads 10 times faster than the standard mobile web.

canvas

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Facebook says it will look to “improve ad experiences for people by considering website performance and a person’s network connection in our ad auction and delivery system.” In other words, Facebook advertisers with slow-loading mobile websites could find that their ads are displayed less frequently.

That’s a big deal and highlights the growing importance of having a mobile-friendly website. While companies that have lackluster mobile experiences are already paying a high cost for their shortcomings in the form of high bounce rates and lower conversions, some don’t know it.

But with Google and Facebook now cracking down on mobile-unfriendly websites, the costs will be more and more apparent.

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