Google announced in January that website page loading speeds would become a mobile ranking factor in July. As promised, the “Speed Update” started rolling out July 9.

Google optimistically explained that 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.” Page speed has been a desktop ranking factor for some time, so this now levels the playing field. But whether it truly only affects a “small percentage” remains to be seen. Ironically, data has long demonstrated that mobile speed has a huge impact on website “bounces”—users have low tolerance for slow mobile sites and will quickly leave if a site fails to load in a reasonable amount of time. It’s somewhat surprising that Google hasn’t made it a mobile ranking factor long before now.

How does this affect your business? If you have a really slow website that performs particularly poorly on mobile, you could struggle even more. However, if the experience for users is pretty bad, you’ve probably been reaping weak results from mobile for some time (even without an official Google algorithm change). However, content is still king, and high quality sites can overcome some speed issues. Google says, “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.”

So what should you do in light of the Speed Update?

  • Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to get a baseline of your site’s performance across platforms. You or your developer can use the resources provided to address performance problems and improve optimization.
  • Make sure your website content and navigation provide excellent information and a great user experience. Quality of content will always be a high ranking signal.
  • But… don’t ignore speed issues just because your site is (or you think it is) good quality. Make use of every optimization advantage you can get—that’s just good business.
  • On the other hand, don’t panic either. Google makes constant changes to its algorithm—some small, and some massive. But if you serve your audience well, that is what’s most important.

Have questions about SEO, search algorithms, or website development and optimization? Give us a call or contact us!