Google Algorithm update – Mobile Page Speed is a ranking factor.

From July 2018 Google will be using mobile page speed as a ranking factor, to help determine where your site should rank.

Site speed is a test at how quickly a selection of your website pages load, whereas Page Speed is how quickly an individual page loads. From what we can tell this latest update focuses solely on Page Speed on mobile search.

Back in January of 2018 Google announced a brand new shiny algorithm just for mobile search. This was somewhat expected within the SEO community as all the way back in 2015 Google had been warning that non-responsive websites would lose most if not all of there ranking within search. Mobile friendliness had become a ranking factor and non-responsive sites were going to suffer. This update was known as Mobilegeddon as hundreds of thousands of business owners were scrambling to make their websites mobile friendly. With mobile traffic now holding the majority rule with 52% of worldwide traffic, this latest update is a long time coming.

Google are calling it the “speed update” and Google have assured us that it will impact a small percentage of sites. As the only pages that will be affected are those that “Deliver the slowest experience to users”. What this essentially means is if your site has a slow load time on Mobile your ranking are as risk of plummeting. There are many reasons that your site may load slowly on mobile, anything from having a slow server response to having images that are too large to load quickly. However luckily for us most are easily fixed.

Though if your website is still un-responsive you are at risk of being lost to Google entirely as there are rumours of Google removing sites which are not mobile friendly from its search entirely.

So how do I know if my website is slow?

Well Google provides two tools know as PageSpeed insights and Test My Site, both collects data from Chrome users who have visited your site to analyse how quickly your website responds to queries.

Check out how your website fairs on each – Test My SitePageSpeed Insights.

Unfortunately due to the way that Google collects the data these tools are not always reliable for smaller sights as Google needs a large amount of traffic to really give you a speed review. However Optimisation scores are available on all sites no matter how much traffic you receive. Follow the steps that Google recommends to help yourself keep your rankings.

What can I do to fix it?

Minimise code

  • Optimise code such as CSS, HTML and JavaScript is my number one recommendation for improving site speed. Using software such as GZip makes this process relatively easy.

Reduce redirects

  • If your browser has to redirect from various pages across your site, this will slow your load time significantly. If you can remove these.

Remove render-blocking JavaScripts

  • Render-blocking javascript is code that sits in the top part of your site and slows down a browser as it loads the page. Try to eliminate this, if you are unsure about coding, a web designer can help with this but it should take long as it simply need the “defer” attribute added.

Leverage Browser caching

  • All browsers have a cache which in a very simplified way is a small file which remembers what a web page looks like so that when you revisit a page it doesn’t have to reload an entire page. Use a tool like YSlow to see if you already have an expiration date set for your cache. Unless you change your website design frequently, around a year is a reasonable expiration period.

Optimise images

  • Make sure that your images are no larger than they need to be and that they are in the right file format.

Improve Server response time

  • Your server response time is affected by how much traffic your site receives. To improve this, look for problems such as slow database queries and a lack of adequate memory. The optimal sever response is under 200ms.

If you are fixing these things and you are still worried that your website may be slow and the above tools are not giving you enough information, there are a few other tools you can use. Lighthouse is a Google recommended developer tool that collects its data in a slightly different way so may be able to fill in the blanks.

It is not yet known if this update will effect desktop searches but it seems logical that Google will eventually roll it out across the board.

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