Google has been telling us for years how important loading times are when it comes to providing a positive user experience. We know that page speed has been a signal used in Google’s search algorithm for some time now but this has applied primarily to desktop results – something that’s about to change.
As of July 2018, page speed will become a specific ranking factor for mobile searches. Which means website owners will have to work increasingly harder to make sure their sites load quickly on mobile devices.
Mobile page speed becomes a ranking factor
In what Google is calling the Speed Update, mobile loading times are going to become more important after July this year. According to the search giant, the update will only impact “a small percentage” of queries and target “the slowest experience to users”.
Here’s what Google has to say about the update:
“People want to be able to find answers to their questions as fast as possible — studies show that people really care about the speed of a page. Although speed has been used in ranking for some time, that signal was focused on desktop searches. Today we’re announcing that starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches.” – Webmaster Central Blog
“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 let’s not get caught up in any page speed-mageddon talk.
Google calls on developers to build great experiences
The Speed Update is all about improving the search experience for mobile users and Google is calling on developers to think about a much wider range of user experience metrics and consider how website performance affects them. It also wants to remind developers and webmasters that there are free tools to help make this process easier:
- Chrome User Experience Report, a public dataset of key user experience metrics for popular destinations on the web, as experienced by Chrome users under real-world conditions
- Lighthouse, an automated tool and a part of Chrome Developer Tools for auditing the quality (performance, accessibility, and more) of web pages
- PageSpeed Insights, a tool that indicates how well a page performs on the Chrome UX Report and suggests performance optimizations
Again, it’s important to remember that only the slowest pages will be impacted by the upcoming Speed Update. However, this doesn’t change the fact that loading times are important to every user and Google isn’t the only reason to aim for faster loading times.
So don’t wait for future algorithm updates if you know slow loading times are losing you traffic, leads or conversions.