Google’s Speed Update

It’s official: speed does matter. Google has just announced that as from July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches.

Speed has in fact been used in ranking for some time for desktop searches, and from July 2018 it will be applied to all pages, regardless of the technology used to build the page. This includes pages built with AMP, which Google has encouraged site owners to use to make their websites faster on mobile.

So what has driven this change? People want to be able to find answers to their questions as fast as possible and Google knows that most people access the internet on their mobile first. Therefore the goal of this change is to improve the search user experience for users on mobile, and make them better and faster than desktop experiences.

What difference will it make? The “Speed Update” will only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries. Although, given that Google is currently estimated to process around 3.5 billion search queries, per day, a “small percentage” could still affect a lot of websites.

But Google are still emphasising that the intent of the search query remains a very strong signal. This means that even if a page is slow it may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content. Content, for now, is still King, but make sure the user experience is solid.

Implementing a pared down page design that allows users to quickly navigate to where they need to go should be your priority, along with well written content that engages your audience.

There are a variety of user experience metrics available that can help you to evaluate and improve the performance of your page. Here are three that are specifically recommended by Google:

  • Chrome User Experience Report – a public dataset of key user experience metrics for popular destinations on the web
  • Lighthouse – an automated tool for auditing the quality of web pages
  • PageSpeed Insights – a tool that indicates how well a page performs and suggests performance optimizations

If you need help or advice in getting your mobile site ready for Speed Update then do get in touch with us at Xcite Digital to see how we may be able to help.