Page Load Speed Will Influence Search Result Rankings Starting in July

Design & Development | SEO

Earlier this year, Google announced what is, for all intents and purposes, a complete overhaul of its search index processes.  They completely flipped the script, prioritizing mobile searches over desktop and tablet searches, which makes complete sense.  Mobile devices (mobile phones) by themselves generated 50.3% of all web traffic worldwide in 2017, and 94% of the searches done on mobile last year were on Google.  This is not shocking, considering 63% of the world population uses a mobile phone, generating 132 exabytes (132 BILLION gigabytes) of mobile data traffic in 2017 alone.  This is the internet-consumption landscape that Google’s Mobile-first index comes on the heels of, and some would say the move is overdue, but the timing is logical as mobile technology has improved and the percentage of mobile traffic has grown to be significantly higher than the percentage of desktop traffic, and that’s the way it’s predicted to be for a while.  And starting in July, Google’s Speed Update will reflect the majority preference for mobile devices, affecting desktop and tablet searches as well.

What Will The Speed Update Do?

Time is of the essence when searching on mobile, and many mobile users have the expectation of finding what they’re searching for in seconds.  The Speed Update will reward pages with great speed, and dock pages with poor speed.  The Speed Update is important, but it won’t be the single driving factor of mobile search rankings.  Page speed will only be one factor of many that determines a site’s ranking.  Google has said in the past that the update will only affect the worst offenders that deliver the most abysmally slow load speeds, in a small percentage of searches.  The intent of the search and content of the landing page still trumps page speed, so slow pages could still rank highly.  Contrary to past belief, this update will not target content consistency: it won’t be looking for (and docking) sites that have differing info from desktop to mobile.  However, you better still ensure the design and speed of your website is optimized for mobile devices.

What Should I Do?

Put yourself in the shoes of a mobile user on the go: they need to search something fast, in the most convenient and intuitive way possible.  Poor page performance is a mobile user’s nightmare, and a surefire way to keep them from coming back.  Page performance should be a web publisher’s first priority for a mobile site, and they should share the same mutual goal with Google in rolling out this update: offering the best possible mobile search experience.  Google offers tools in its Chrome browser to evaluate a page’s performance, such as the Chrome UX Report, Lighthouse, and PageSpeed Insights, that will certainly tell you what work you need to do on your site, but provides no indication of whether the Speed Update will affect your rankings.

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