It was bound to happen sooner or later, and Google officially announced on the Webmaster Central Blog that page load speed will become part of the mobile ranking algorithm effective July 2018.
According to Webmaster Central, “People want to be able to find answers to their questions as fast as possible — studies show that people really care about the speed of a page.”
Old news? No, while page load speed has been used to affect rankings for some time, that particular signal was specific to desktop searches and did not apply to mobile searches.
The algorithm update, cleverly named “Speed Update,” will only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users, and Google says it will only affect a small percentage of queries.
How Important is the Speed Update?
As far as algorithm updates go, it’s pretty important because page speed affects the user experience, which affects all kinds of other ranking factors, like bounce rate, for example. That said, the user intent of the search query remains a stronger ranking signal than the new speed update. That means that even a slow page can still rank above a fast page if it has unique, highly relevant content.
As per usual, Google strongly recommends that website owners and developers think primarily about how performance affects the overall user experience, which triggers the chain reaction of user experience metrics.
How to Know if Your Site is Affected
According to Google, “There is no tool that directly indicates whether a page is affected by this new ranking factor.” But that doesn’t mean you’re completely out of luck. Webmaster Central recommends using these tools to evaluate your page’s performance:
Fortunately, Google is giving webmasters some time to tweak their pages before rolling out the Speed Update. You have until July 2018 to improve your mobile page load speed before getting dinged.
You have six months & the clock is ticking. Give us a buzz if you need any help improving your page load speed for desktop or the new mobile speed update. We’re here to help!