mobile page speedYou’ve heard that having a mobile website is important, but did you know that the speed of your mobile site’s pages has a hand in determining your rankings in mobile search results? As of July 9, 2018, Google has started rolling out its Speed Update for all users, transforming page speed into a ranking factor for mobile search. And yes – that means your mobile site’s page speed now impacts where your site and its pages appear in Google’s search listings in mobile search. As Google works to cater to more mobile users, learn about the mobile page speed update and what you should do to ensure your website is better optimized for it, increasing your site’s search engine optimization (SEO) and visibility.

What is Google’s Speed Update?

The Speed Update is a new algorithm that takes mobile site page speed into account for rankings for mobile search. In other words, the speed of your mobile site’s pages could now influence where your site appears in Google search engine results pages (SERP) when someone uses a mobile device to complete a search.

For those who follow SEO updates, this update may sound somewhat familiar and bring back memories of a past update. After all, back in 2010, Google made a similar announcement about turning page speed into a ranking factor, though that update focused on desktop searches.

That said, the mobile Speed Update might only impact the slowest sites, as Google has said that it “will only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries.” When it comes to tweaking your pages’ speed to better optimize them for the Speed Update, it’s also good to note that if your site is already “reasonably fast,” making it faster likely won’t have an impact on rankings.

An additional important point to keep in mind is that page speed isn’t the be-all and end-all to getting a high ranking in mobile search. In fact, Google stresses that the “intent of the search query” is still a factor taken into consideration for rankings, so it’s important to remember that “great, relevant content” can still influence rankings in a positive way. In fact, even if a page with great, relevant content is on the slower side, the page may still land closer to the top of search listings because of its content.

Why should you care about the mobile page speed update?

It isn’t an accident that Google’s recently rolled out its Speed Update and its mobile-first index, a sign that Google’s algorithms will eventually primarily rank pages based on the mobile content instead of the desktop content of websites. After all, there’s a reason why people have been pushing responsive design and taking mobile sites into serious consideration as of late. Given recent statistics, mobile web browsing has overtaken desktop browsing. Most Americans own a smartphone, and Statista predicts that the number of mobile phone search users in the U.S. may increase to 215.8 million by 2019, a huge jump from 2015’s 157.6 million mobile phone search users in the U.S.

Since mobile searches have become so prevalent, it’s a smart decision to build a mobile site that provides a great user experience, including quick load times. While your mobile site’s page speed may initially seem like a miniscule factor and no big deal, it turns out that load times and page speed can shape your visitors’ decisions to stay on your site or to go. In fact, back in 2016, Googler employees Daniel An and Pat Meenan wrote, “40% of consumers will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.”

When you take page speed and mobile user statistics into account, it quickly becomes clear that your mobile site and its visibility matter. Getting your website to the top of search results can be tough, though, so you’ll want to do what you can to make sure your website’s mobile optimization and SEO (i.e., optimizing your website so that it becomes better and more visible through search engines) are as good as they can be. Keep reading to find out about some steps you can take to optimize for Google’s mobile page speed update.

What can you do next?

While there might not be a tool that allows you to directly figure out how a web page is being affected by the Speed Update, there are several tools you can try out to check your page speed and to find ways to improve it. Google suggests using Chrome User Experience Report (provides user experience metrics), Lighthouse (allows you to audit your website pages’ performance) and PageSpeed Insights (provides metrics on the performance of a page and offers optimization suggestions) to evaluate how well a page is doing. Do note that if your website isn’t in the Chrome User Experience Report dataset, you may receive an unavailable message when you attempt to use PageSpeed Insights.

A post on WordStream also suggests considering creating pages built using AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages), an open source initiative that assists you with creating web pages that have quicker load times. WordStream also notes that using AMP may affect the amount of control you have over your page design, so you may want to consider the pros and cons of AMP before creating pages with it.

Thinking about SEO as the bigger picture

As you think about your mobile page speed and the Google Speed Update, it may be a good idea to keep the big picture in mind and to consider all aspects covered by SEO. That’s because your website’s rankings depend on far more than just page speed. Different factors, such as keyword usage and targeting, content relevancy and more, could all play a role in shaping rankings.

SEO can get complicated, so if you want to easily build a website that has good SEO, you could consider creating a website through a website builder. That’s because many website building services offer SEO tools that can make your life easier. Our top website builder, Wix, offers tools that let you easily add SEO to your pages, and it also provides apps in its App Market that could assist you with improving your site’s SEO. Many website builders are also great about providing helpful guides pertaining to SEO, including website builders Weebly and Squarespace.

Now that you know more about Google’s mobile page Speed Update and what it may entail for you, learn more tips that can help you build a successful website. To get started, take a look at our website builder reviews and follow our website building blog for more tips for creating your website.