Google’s ‘Speed Update’ has now been released – do you need to panic?

16th July 2018 / 3 minute read

google speed update

Our blog back in January, ‘Site Speed is Becoming a Major Ranking Factor for Mobile Search Results!’, gave us the opportunity to speak about… well, the title kind of gives it away… anyhow, 6 months down the line, the ‘Site Speed’ update has finally arrived.

Let’s take a look and see what this means for mobile sites.

Site speed has been a ranking factor on desktop for donkey’s years. And now it’s a ranking factor on mobile search too, hurrah!

I made the point in my last blog that mobile speed should have been a priority even before Google’s speed update; especially when you consider that mobile browsing overtook desktop browsing over the past couple of years. This is according to The Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/nov/02/mobile-web-browsing-desktop-smartphones-tablets).

This update is essentially a kick up the butt to those of you who have neglected the optimisation of your website on mobile.

As of last week (9th July), page speed is now a ranking factor for mobile searches.

Great news. Google is putting users first – as we all should – to give them the best browsing experience, whilst rewarding good sites too.

 How will the Google Speed Update impact your website?

Well it might not. According to Search Engine Land, it “only impacts the slowest of sites on the internet” and will “only affect a small percentage of queries”.

It’s better safe than sorry, so go away and check your site’s performance across all devices. Although you may not need to action any optimisation work, it can’t hurt to improve the experience for your users.

Google completes various checks on a site’s speed and will not give you a specific metric on this, but they have suggested that we all look at the metrics from Chrome User Experience Report, Lighthouse and the PageSpeed Insights tool.

It’s worth noting that by shaving a few seconds off the load time on an already speedy site will not earn you ranking improvement. This update is focussed on those sites that do not perform well.

 If a mobile user has to wait several seconds (more than 3 seconds) for a site to load, then you need to work on this as it could be affecting your rankings, but most importantly, the user experience!

DON’T PANIC – your slow site might not disappear in the rankings

The slowest sites of all can still rank. Especially if your website is relevant to a user’s search. If your content is relevant and of a high quality, then you will still rank favourably. But it is time for you to focus on your website’s performance.

After all, you want to give your users – on mobile and desktop – the best possible online experience!

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