>>3 minute read

 

Yesterday, Google announced mobile page speed will play a role in search rankings in an update called the “Speed Update”.

Since Google announced mobile searches had finally passed desktop searches in 2015, they’ve been shifting gears towards mobile-friendly experience. This includes signals like:

  • A responsive site design
  • Mobile call to actions like push-button call
  • Mobile extensions for ads

And now the speed of the landing page is going to play a role.

Although page speed was already an on-site SEO ranking factor, this coming July, Google is going to be placing a more favorable ranking for sites with faster load times on mobile devices. Initially, site speed had been placed in a higher favor for desktop users back in a 2010 update.

Studies show the load time of the landing page plays a large role in the behavior of users, often resulting in abandonment of the page. According to a study done by Google, the average time to load a mobile page is 22 seconds.

But that isn’t all…

53% of mobile visitors abandon the site if it takes only longer than 3 seconds to load.

Does your site take longer to load than 3 seconds? If it does, imagine you had 1,000 visitors to your site in a month. You could have had 2,000. Not only that, but starting July, the 1,000 you originally had may drop due to ranking signals from your page speed.

 

Shouldn’t Come as a Shock to Most Marketers

Back in February of 2016, Google began ranking sites using their AMP (Accelerated Mobile Page) technology that speeds up mobile rendering. And in April, Google gave AMP pages a better position in Google rankings.

In fact, starting at the beginning of this year, Google updated their PageSpeed Insights tool to not only analyze the code on your site for optimal performance but now provides statistics on your page’s load time.

Google's new pagespeed insights statistics

So it was only a matter of time before the last straw was pulled and Google jumped in with both feet to the mobile demographic.

 

Do Slower Sites Automatically Get Ranked Lower?

Not necessarily.

Certain slower sites will still rank higher based on related content to the search query, domain authority, and 200 other ranking factors. But that doesn’t mean it should be ignored.

Marketers are aware of this update and chances are your competitors are following Google’s SEO best practices already. Which means site speed is another signal that could be a deciding factor between your SEO optimized site and your competitors’ SEO optimized site.

 

What Does This Mean?

It means people are well aware of this update and marketers and business owners everywhere are testing their site speed to make sure they’re not going to take a hit with this update.

 

So Where Does That Leave You?

Have you tested your site speed? If not, there are lots of free tools out there that can help you get a good read on how your site performs. Here are just a couple:

These tools will even help guide you on what you need to do in order to help your site load faster.

If you’re using WordPress there are great plugins out there that can help you with increasing speed. The two favorites I love to use are WP Smush and WP Rocket.

WP Smush is a freemium plugin that compresses your file sizes by command and automatically on upload so you can have a site with optimized image sizes, reducing the load times of your photos. However, adding a plugin to your site to help reduce code bloat is a bit counter-intuitive. I wrote a guide on how to optimize the images on your website to increase page speed and rank higher in Google. Follow that guide and it’ll compress your images even more than WP Smush can.

WP Rocket is a really handy plugin that enables optimizing of multiple factors that slow site speed such as browser caching, minifying JavaScript, CSS, and HTML for those of you without any web development expertise.

 

My Advice?

Get a hold of your web person and tell them to speed up your site. Use the tools I showed you above to see how you’re performing. If it’s slower than 3 seconds, you’ve got some work to do.