Google to Make Page Speed a Ranking Factor in Mobile Search Ranking

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Google is giving you a stronger reason to focus on a mobile responsive site. Last January 17, Google announced a new ranking algorithm specifically designed for mobile search, calling it “Speed Update.”

This update will go live in July 2018. This means you still have ample time to focus on your site’s mobile performance.

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What is the Speed Update?

This is the significant change in how Google ranks websites for mobile searches. The new algorithm takes page speed into consideration as one of the signals.

Fortunately, Google pointed out that this will only affect a relatively small percentage of queries. The ones affected will be the pages delivering “the slowest experiences to users.”

According to Google, the search query’s intent is still a very strong signal. So a slow-loading page may still rank high provided it has relevant content.

Taking into consideration speed as a ranking factor isn’t new since Google has been obsessed with speed. For almost 8 years, desktop site speed has been the search engine’s ranking factor. What’s new this time is the addition of mobile sites in the site speed ranking equation.

Users expect speed

To highlight the importance of a mobile responsive site, Google showcased the following eye-opening statistics. According to Google’s research, as the page load time increases from 1 to 10 seconds, the probability of a visitor bouncing out of the website also increase by 123%.

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In other words, page speed has a direct impact on the site’s bounce rate. Adding a mere 2 seconds to the load speed also increases the bounce rate by 32%.

 

How does this affect e-commerce sites?

It is high time to focus on mobile user experience by increasing site load speed. Google provided the following tools to help you not only optimise but also test your site’s page speed:

  • Lighthouse. As part of Chrome Developer Tools, this automated tool helps audit the quality of web pages (accessibility, performance, and more).
  • Chrome User Experience Report. This is a public dataset of key user experience metrics for popular destinations on the web, as experienced by Chrome users under real-world conditions.
  • PageSpeed Insights. This is a tool indicating how well a page performs on the Chrome User Experience Report and suggests performance optimization.

Mobile-First Indexing

The Speed Update is not the only mobile search initiative Google is launching this year. Expect to see an increase in the application of Google’s mobile-first index. This will determine the overall ranking of each website based mobile factors, further emphasising the significance of the Speed Update.

Summing up

The search giant’s focus on mobile stems from the increasing number of online search using mobile devices. In fact, over half of all online searches come from smartphones. So this year, you need to rethink how a mobile responsive site will affect your bounce rate and your site’s overall ranking.

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