Only the SEO’s living in a cave didn’t see this move from Google coming.
With mobile search dominance filling in at an astounding rate due to smartphone saturation, Google has confirmed that starting in July 2018, it will add in mobile page speed as part of their search algorithm.
Google’s Zhiheng Wang and Doantam Phan wrote:
The “Speed Update,” as we’re calling it, will only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries. It applies the same standard to all pages, regardless of the technology used to build the page. The 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.
Google is referring to next summers update as the “speed update,” according to the source, techcrunch.com.
The change will not be sweeping in nature, instead, the “speed update” will add in the extra signal into the algorithm as one signal of many.
While many slow mobile pages could be affected, those whose content is uniquely relevant and high-quality will thrive.
Will this speed up adoption of AMP?
Almost one year ago today, Google debuted Accelerated Mobile Pages, or, AMP for short, allowed websites to easily convert to a Google mobile platform that offered slower pages improved speed.
The AMP platform has never been popular due to its stripping out of essential embed forms which typically play non-Youtube videos and capture leads.
Google has never stated that AMP pages garner any dramatic advantages in their search results, though many SEO experts have surmised that AMP pages do tend to get priority in the search listings.
The “speed update” will not have anything to do with AMP’s platform, at least not directly, though it is hard to fathom that this update will not ramp up AMP users.
If your mobile website is slow to the first byte and you are not able to afford better hosting or a developer to render positive speed changes, you might be better off utilizing the AMP platform.
With solid practices, there is no logical reason why Google’s “speed update” would penalize your site.
The good news is that AMP is an option, the bad news being that lead collection may suffer as there isn’t tremendous support for them on the platform.
Start preparing now for the Google Speed Update
Google’s “mobile speed update” is far from a surprise, the direction to improve mobile usability has been on Google’s forefront of agenda for years now.
Tips For A Faster Mobile Website
If you have been delaying increasing the speed of your website’s mobile presence, time is apparently running out.
Even if you feel your site already responds quickly to mobile queries, you can always give yourself more of an advantage over your competition by making a number of changes.
Always Optimize WordPress
WordPress is one of the most widely used CMS’s on the web. However, its also one of the most bloated, which can lead to incredibly slow response times.
Make sure you are using a performance enhancer plugin, such as W3 Total Cache. I included this software in my huge list of SEO Tools.
You can search for “W3 Total Cache Settings” and find a wealth of applicable setups. Most importantly, make sure you are clearing your cache and that you have caching enabled at a universal level.
Additionally, don’t allow plugins you are not using to hang around.
Always delete plugins which aren’t being used. If any plugins store a cache, such as plugins that scan your system for broken backlinks, make sure you delete that cache on a regular basis or internally set the plugin to not store any cache.
WordPress image optimization plugins, such as Smush, can vastly increase your website’s overall speed.
Image optimization plugins can not only optimize pictures you upload on the fly, but they can optimize all the images you have uploaded in the past. Some of these plugins may charge you a small fee.
However, the enhanced speed of your website will more than makeup for the few dollars you spend on these plugins.
Eliminate any unneeded social icons. While these social share icons are trendy, they often don’t result in increased shares. However, they do often result in slowing your web pages down to a crawl.
Optimize Your Website Hosting
If you are hosting your website with an inferior hosting service to save money, you may be losing more money than you are saving.
Cheap hosting plans often aren’t the best at handling WordPress websites.
WPEngine is a good solution for WordPress hosted sites. However, they will cost you a little more than most other web hosts.
If you absolutely can’t afford a decent web host, consider converting all of your mobile traffic to Google’s AMP using an AMP plugin
Set your Google Analytics code, or any metric tracking codes, to load using what’s known as asynchronous delivery.
The fact is, if you overload your header with tracking codes, it all has to load before your webpage’s content loads, and that is a big problem.
Google is not in the business of loading tracking codes for consumers; they are in the business of displaying readable, problem-solving, entertaining content.
Conclusion: Remember Google is Focused on User Experience
Google’s “Speed Update” is merely an extension of a narrative that the company has long been writing.
There should be no surprises, however, for some, this could be the additional nudge that’s needed to encourage making some productive and valuable changes to your website.
Consumers just don’t want to wait around for web pages to load on their iPhones even if Google allows them to show up in the results.
A faster mobile experience is a huge benefit to a company’s brand.
Make sure you are ready for this major ranking factor focused on mobile page speed.