Google recently announced the launch of their Speed Update. This change to how Google ranks websites for searches will now take mobile page speed into account in its ranking algorithm. This announcement is part of a Google’s ongoing efforts to incentivize good web performance. It makes sense, because, as we’ve said in the past, good website performance has implications on user experience.
Mobile usage overall is on the rise, so it’s no surprise the same is true for search. Nearly 60% of search queries are made on mobile devices.
While the Speed Update won’t be in effect until July 2018, there are steps that companies can take now to make sure they are not penalized.
Get Familiar with your Analytics
Google won’t notify you if your ranking is dinged by mobile speed, but you will see the impact in your Google Search Console and your traffic.
You should have a good sense already from your analytics about who is coming to your site and through what mediums. Are most of your users via desktop or mobile? What percentage of your traffic comes from organic search compared to social media referrals or direct visits?
Getting a sense of your current traffic patterns can help you set a baseline. You can use this baseline to determine the potential impact your performance improvements.
Monitor Your Mobile Experience
Desktop users and mobile users have different experiences due to variations in device type, browser, and network conditions. Simply put, you cannot assume that testing and monitoring desktop performance will provide a sufficient picture of your mobile user’s experience.
It’s critical to test websites using mobile network conditions to accurately measure the site’s performance. Leveraging a feature like Filmstrips can also help by providing insight into what the user is actually experiencing while the page loads on both mobile and desktop. This data can help pinpoint what issues might be affecting your UX.
Prioritize Performance Improvements
Google’s Speed Update has made page load time a primary concern, but there are other aspects of mobile performance you should address, too. For instance, is your mobile experience user friendly, or can it be difficult to read or find content on mobile? Consider using a responsive design or a website design that is geared towards users on smaller screens. Here are a few other tips on how you can improve your mobile performance.
While content may not be king, it is important–both for delivering a good experience to users, but also for SEO. While speed influences rankings it isn’t the only factor. Search queries will still be a very strong factor, so high quality, relevant content will is also important.
As we’ve said before, SEO is a team sport. It is important for stakeholders across the business to understand the far-reaching implications of performance. Google’s Speed Update represents the latest in a push to incentivize speed. We know that load time impacts conversion rates, but its impact goes much further than that with ramifications for SEO and UX more broadly.
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