Starting in July 2018, Google will finally use page speed as a ranking factor in their mobile search results.
Google recently announced a new ranking algorithm designed for mobile search. The company is calling it the “Speed Update,” and it will impact a small percentage of websites that “deliver the slowest experience to users” according to Google.
The update is to go live in July 2018, so you have some time to get ready for this update. While the exact recommended page load time is not provided, the general rule of thumb is that if your site loads under 4 seconds or less, you are in the same zone. If your site loads under 2 seconds, that’s super – not only is it good for SEO, you’re also giving a great user experience to your visitors. If it takes 7~8 seconds or more, then I’d say you need to start talking to your web developer to start optimizing your site.
Google recommends you use the new updated PageSpeed report and tools like LightHouse to measure page speed and make improvements.
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.”
Back in 2010 or so, Google announced that page speed was a ranking factor but it was focused on desktop searches only. Now, in July 2018, it will look at how fast your mobile pages are and use that as a ranking factor in mobile search. Google has been promising to look at mobile page speed for years now, and it is finally coming.
Here are some tips to improve the speed of your website:
- Optimize images for mobile – keep the image size small for desktop and smaller for mobile
- Combine and minify CSS and JS files – this reduces number of server requests and size of CSS & JS files
- Use caching – this reduces making unnecessary database queries which can slow down your site
- Utilize compression and gzip – this reduces file size of assets as they are delivered from server to browser
- Upgrade to latest PHP – PHP 7.0 and higher has built-in OpCache that will dramatically improve the performance
- Consider premium hosting – there’s a reason why premium hosting providers like WP Engine and Pantheon cost more than GoDaddy
- Utilize Content Delivery Network – great if your visitors are from all over the country or world
We published an article in the past titled “Improving Website Speed” that goes into further details on some of above items. You may want to take a look at it as well as this page to learn about how LNI helped Renewable Marketing increase website speed to load under 1.5 seconds.