Google’s mobile page speed update

It’s happening again. Digital marketers, web teams and SEOs across the world are tearing their hair out and frantically preparing for the new mobile page speed algorithm update due in July 2018.

In January, Google announced that “page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches” as of this Summer.

In all fairness, we’ve had enough time to prepare for this. The Mobile First Index announcement was made at the end of 2016 so webmasters should have been focusing on their mobile performance for over 12 months.

In the post, Google mentions that page speed has been a ranking factor for a long time (courtesy of the Caffeine algorithm). However, it has only really affected desktop searches.

The algorithm update in July 2018 will focus solely on mobile website speed as a ranking factor.

If you want to know how much this is going to affect you, head on over to your Analytics account and break down your site sessions by device. For most sites, we’d estimate that over 50% of traffic is mobile, with some sites seeing up to 75/80% mobile traffic due to their demographics.

Regardless of the split of mobile to desktop traffic on your site, this update could cause a dramatic impact on your overall traffic.

In the announcement, Google state that “the intent of a search query is still a very strong signal, so a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.”

Whilst this is positive for slow sites, we’d recommend that you don’t pin all of your hopes on your content strategy. However, if your site is lacking in content/doesn’t provide a high level of content (as defined by Google’s crawlers) and performs slowly, then you may be in a spot of bother come July 2018.

In terms of gauging your site’s mobile speed performance, Google lists the following tools:

  • Chrome User Experience Report – a report containing key UX data from real users for popular websites
  • Lighthouse – Google’s free mobile testing tool, housed within Chrome Developer Tools
  • PageSpeed Insights, which we cover in detail in this post

As for the content quality we mentioned above, we’d recommend that you don’t just run it through a tool. This is due to the fact that Google’s algorithms are more sophisticated than most free content analysis tools. If you need help auditing your existing content or creating new content for your site, then our team can help.

If you’re worried about the mobile site speed update then get in touch with us, we’ll make sure that your site isn’t penalised by the upcoming algorithm change.

Written by Alex Wright

Head of Search