How mobile sites are affected by the Google Speed update
16 July 2018
by Jason Treloar
When was the last time you searched your company on the mobile using Google? The reason for asking the question is that you may or may not have noticed a change since 9 July when you ranked higher than you do now for certain search terms.
So what has happened?
Mobile page speed has become a hot topic. Perhaps it has always been important, well, ever since around 2010 when Google considered desktop page speed, amongst other things, in determining results rankings. It has now just become even more important.
The rise of the smartphone has been inexorable as clearly depicted by this graph on Statista. In 2017, in the age range of 16-34, there is 96% smartphone penetration, with 88% amongst 35-54 year olds. At the same time, smartphones have essentially become incredibly powerful pocket computers with enormous amounts of processing capability.
The advent of 4G - soon to be superseded by 5G - has allowed more people to access the internet more easily and with better results than ever before. It won’t be long before we are all watching a movie on Netflix on the go. The result is that more mobile traffic exists than ever before.
So why are some sites so terribly slow at loading on mobile? Well, they are just too heavy - in particular the weighty images that are not optimised or excessive use of advertising, amongst other things. It is therefore of little surprise that Google has made some changes - changes which may impact organic search results on mobile devices.
What does this mean for your organisation?
If your site is slow on mobile, and by that we mean very slow - many seconds to download - you may be in trouble when it comes to favourable listings in search results. However, you may not.
According to Google, if your site, or page, is very relevant to the search term (and it is a trusted and authoritative source), you are likely to be all right…. for the time being anyway. It is, however, worth bearing in mind that if there are multiple pages from competitor sites that are all equally relevant, the fastest loading one is likely to find its way higher up the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). And let’s not forget the end-user here. How long will you expect them to hang around waiting for your site to load if there are alternatives available?
There are numerous factors that can impact the speed at which a web page downloads to your smartphone, and without being too technical, they include things such as code quality, caching, content delivery networks and your general server set-up.
At Clock, we have been delivering high-speed, responsive websites for a number of years (see our blog on rugby site speeds) and are constantly testing page speeds throughout our development period using tools such as https://www.webpagetest.org/. Anyone can access the tool, it is simple to use and worth comparing your site versus your competitors', or any other, to see how you are benchmarking.
The impact of mobile page speeds can be the difference between fulfilling commercial potential or losing customers altogether because:
a) the experience is bad or
b) your site is penalised by Google in its rankings.
Compelling reasons for ensuring that websites are optimised for speed.
With 5G around the corner, there is even more impetus to take action. As companies look to invest more in this area, ensuring that competitive edge is vital in the era of marginal gains.
If you want to discuss this is in more detail and explore how we may be able to improve your site’s mobile speed, drop us a line.