Google has announced that in July of 2018 it will roll out a “Speed Update” which will make page speed a ranking factor for mobile searches.
To give this announcement some context, there are a few important things to understand.
Google Mobile Search Background
Mobile vs Desktop search results. For several years, Google has been showing one set of search results to us when we search on a phone or tablet and a different set of search results when we search on a computer. When Google rolled out its mobile-friendly search update in 2015, it specifically penalized non-mobile-friendly websites but only in the mobile search results.
Page speed has been a ranking signal for years… but only for desktop searches. To be honest, this one has me scratching my head. I have no idea why Google would have only been factoring page speed into desktop results and not mobile results, but that’s what they say in their announcement.
Google is developing a new mobile-first index. Google will create and rank its search listings based on the mobile version of content, even for listings that are shown to desktop users. In other words, previously Google has looked at the desktop version of a website by default and only used the mobile version for mobile search results, but it’s going to switch this to looking at the mobile version of a website by default and only looking at the desktop version for desktop searches.
The Future of Google Mobile Search
Nearly 60% of searches and website visits are made from mobile devices now and that is only going to continue to increase. As a result, Google is going to increasingly give priority to things that matter to mobile users, like page speed.
We’re obsessed with speed. -Google
Additionally, as Google continues to learn more about how people’s behavior on mobile devices differs from their behavior on computers, I believe the mobile search results will diverge more from the desktop results. They will become more different from each other. Page speed matters more when you’re on your phone, so it’s likely to become a bigger ranking factor in mobile search results than desktop search results. There could be many other mobile-only ranking factors on the way.
How to Prepare for the Google Speed Update
Optimize your images. Image files are usually the biggest files on website. Whenever possible, convert your images to the .JPG format. The JPG format allows you to decide quality vs file size. I find that 75% to 80% usually provides the ideal balance – a relatively small file size with very little loss of quality.
Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool but don’t obsess. Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool, provides some excellent analysis and recommendations. However, I’ve seen some people obsess over trying to get a score of 100, and spend hours and hours in the process.
PageSpeed Insights does not show the importance or priority of its “optimization suggestions.” It will list an optimization suggestion that will save 1 kb right there with an optimization suggestion that will save 1 mb (1000 times more).
If you use OurChurch.Com’s WP-EZ Website Builder, know that we are examining Google’s PageSpeed Insights for themes and plugins we use and working on improvements that will improve page speed.
SEO Questions and Support
If you have any questions about page speed or search engine optimization in general, post a comment below.
And if you’d like the help of a team of professional SEO experts to help your church, school, ministry or business rank better in search engines and reach more people, let’s setup a time to talk. No obligation, no pressure. Just a friendly conversation about your goals and options.