Google webmasters are constantly looking for ways to improve how the search engine ranks user search results. Regular updates ensure that the user finds what they’re looking for, as quickly and easily as possible. This is why Google is the world’s most popular search engine.

Mobile page speed

When pages are slow to load, users don’t aways stick around (see our definition for ‘drop off’). With millions of other pages to choose from, why wait for this one to load? The user doesn’t know if it contains what they’re looking for yet. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that page speed has been a ranking factor for desktop searches for a while. However, this has been focused solely on desktop searches, until now…As of this month, Google have introduced page speed as a ranking factor for mobile searches. And given that the majority of today’s searches are carried out on smartphones, we think this is a good idea.

Remember the success of Google as a search engine is largely down to quality of the User Experience (UX). That is – delivering content that is of the highest standard and the most relevant to the user’s query or search term. So the speediest pages to deliver content that’s both great and relevant should feature high up on the user’s results page. What’s more, if the user’s looking for something on their mobile whilst they’re out and about – chances are, they need it ASAP.

The mobile speed update and your SEO campaign

If you want Google to bring your website to the top of the user’s search – don’t underestimate the importance of page load time. We’ve always encouraged consideration of website performance in relation to user experience. Websites that load quickly have longer average sessions and lower bounce rates. And we’re talking seconds not minutes here. Onsite optimisation is a crucial step to any successful SEO campaign. Now it’s more important than ever and you need to consider whether your site is mobile friendly too.

What to do in response to the speed update

Google have provided an online tool that tells you how well a page performs and provides optimisation suggestions. For reports, you can also use the lighthouse tool. Compare the proportion of traffic to your page in mobile and desktop searches. If you see more drop-off in mobile searches, your site may not be mobile friendly in terms of page load speed.

Don’t panic too much. Page speed will be superseded by searcher intent in terms of its power as a ranking factor. As before, content is king –  a slow page may still rank highly if it has content that’s useful (relevant) and of a good quality. This update will only target slow landing pages so it will affect pages that deliver the slowest experience. But, as we’ve also said before, successful SEO campaigns are all about marginal gains. If page speed is something you fix to work in your favour – do it.

Yellowball can help you gain that extra edge in today’s highly competitive and cluttered marketplace where attention spans are measured in seconds. For help improving your site in response to the “Speed Update”, get in touch, or browse our SEO Glossary to nerd up on SEO terminology.