Page speed will become a ranking factor this July, as just recently announced by Google. They are calling it “The Speed Update” and it will change how your website ranks on mobile searches. Content is king, some say, but it seems that speed will become a very important factor for all publishers in the digital space.
What does The Speed Update mean for you?
Google says that speed will still represent “one of many signals that are used to rank pages” and “intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a slow may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content”. The change will not affect your ranking in desktop search results, neither would your desktop speed affect how you rank on the mobile search index. Considering that nowadays mobile traffic represents more than 50% of the overall web traffic, delivering a great user experience across all screens seems increasingly more important for growing and keeping your audience in the long term.
How should you prepare for The Speed Update?
We recommend that you first do a quick check how your website is performing with one of the tools suggested by Google, such as PageSpeed Insights. It will not only indicate where you stand compared to others but will also offer useful optimization suggestions. For some websites, you may get the “unavailable” message for speed data, which simply means the respective website is not in the Chrome User Experience Report dataset. In such cases, you may want to try the Lighthouse dev tool to evaluate the performance of your pages.
Once you know where you stand, you can make a plan what should be improved and prioritized. Google encourages developers “to think broadly about how performance affects a user’s experience of their page and to consider a variety of user experience metrics when improving their site”. Even though they stated that the same standard would be applied regardless of the technology used to build the page, many believe that the upcoming change in Google’s algorithms is a push towards the broader implementation of AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages). Only recently they announced that AMP pages will be able to display the publishers’ URL instead of the google.com/amp URL in the second half of 2018.