If you have your own website, or manage websites for clients, you might be wondering, “What is Google’s ‘Speed Update’ and what does it mean for me?” Find out the answers below in addition to a few tips to help prepare yourself.
Google recently announced that, beginning in July 2018, they’ll have a new ranking algorithm that will prioritize speed on mobile searches, a.k.a. their “Speed Update.” Google has been taking page speed into consideration on desktop for years, and now mobile is becoming an official ranking factor in their algorithm. This means that the speed of your mobile page can affect how you rank in search. Google said this Speed Update will only affect “a small percentage of queries” but taking into consideration the number of searches that take place on Google every day, this could have a substantial impact.
Why do we care? Because nearly 60% of searches are done from mobile devices, 48% of consumers start mobile research with a search engine, and Google drives 96% of mobile search traffic.
It’s rare for Google to give a heads up when changing their algorithms, and since we know what’s ahead, we can prepare by taking the following into consideration:
- If your website doesn’t load in 3 seconds or less, you may need to make some revisions. Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to see how you score. A score of 80 or higher is recommended.
- GTmetrix is another tool that can analyze your website’s speed. It can also give you insights and recommendations for optimization.
- Implement AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages). AMP is a Google-backed project with the goal of “making the web better for all” and enabling “the creation of websites and ads that are consistently fast, beautiful and high-performing across devices and distribution platforms.” This includes helping to improve mobile site speed. Learn more about the AMP Project on Google here. If/when incorporating AMP, ensure you follow the right steps so you don’t create duplicate information – which is not SEO friendly.
- While site speed is important, the overall user experience should still be the focus. The Chrome User Experience Report can help by providing user experience metrics from real-world users.
In a nutshell, your website needs to be optimized for the user experience in order to rank in search results, and site speed is one factor that will really start to matter.
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