Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) just announced it is going to be taking page speed into consideration when it ranks websites for mobile searches. Called the “Speed Update,” it will not take effect until July 2018, and was driven in part by user complaints about mobile webpage speed.
What’s the Google Speed Update?
The goal, according to Google, is to give mobile users a better experience. This will bring mobile on par with desktop sites, which have been ranked based in part on the criteria of loading speed since 2010.
As more small businesses optimize their sites for mobile, they have to take many SEO factors into consideration to achieve a good ranking. In addition to abiding by the new changes of the “Speed Update,” your mobile strategy must take into account screen size, access, sneak peeks, better headlines and more.
All things being equal, how is the ranking of your site going to be impacted by this new change? Google’s Zhiheng Wang and Doantam Phan, who wrote the blog post announcing the change, said, “Keep in mind that intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.”
What will it Change?
So what does this mean for small businesses and their mobile presence? First, Google is providing ample time to make the necessary changes — a little more than six months. If your site is delivering too slow an experience, you can have your web developer optimize it to meet the new requirements. More importantly, it might not affect you at all, since Google has said, “Only a small percentage of queries will be affected.”
Wang and Phan are encouraging developers to think about how performance affects user experience when they are trying to access a page. They go on to say developers should consider several of the available user experience metrics when optimizing a site for mobile. Resources such as Chrome User Experience Report, Lighthouse, and PageSpeed Insights can be used to evaluate the performance of a web page.
What’s Next in the Move to Mobile?
Google started highlighting its Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) sites in search results in 2016. That particular move was implemented just as mobile internet usage surpassed desktop usage that year.
Small businesses must now recognize the internet has transitioned into a mobile-first world. This means making the necessary improvements to optimize mobile-based apps, sites and communications features.