Google is regularly updating its ranking algorithm by introducing ranking factors that enable it to deliver on its core mandate of making information universally available and useful. The ranking algorithms cut across all devices from desktops to mobile.
In January 2018, the search engine announced a new ranking algorithm specifically targeting mobile searches. The algorithm named Speed Update is targeted at pages that deliver the slowest experience to users on mobile devices.
The rolling out of the update was set for July 2018 to give webmasters enough time to prepare their sites and comply with the provisions of the algorithm.
Measuring Page Speed
To help webmasters prepare, Google went ahead to recommend their new PageSpeed report and other tools that help in measuring page speed. Once webmasters know their page speed, they can make targeted improvements.
PageSpeed Insights Report
The PageSpeed tool gives insights on how fast website pages load. Google updated this tool to incorporate Chrome user experience report data that is real-world. This is an important metric to measure user satisfaction. On this tool, pages are graded as fast, slow, and average.
That said, not every site is graded. For a site to be classified, it needs to generate enough traffic and data from the user experience report on Chrome.
This is an open source tool you can run against any web page. It helps conduct audits for accessibility, performance, progressive web apps, and so much more. After the audit, it generates a report on all the variables tested and their respective scores. From here, you can use the failing audits as key indicators on how to improve your page.
From Desktop to Mobile Searches
Page speed is not new as a ranking signal. Back in 2010, Google introduced it, but the focus was on desktop searches. Starting in July 2018, the focus will shift to mobile searches. As a matter of fact, Google has made the official announcement that it is rolling out the Speed Update worldwide.
According to the search giant, slow web pages in mobile search will be confined to lower rankings. The reason it is doing this is that people are concerned about page speeds more than the technologies used to build those pages.
Google has also discontinued the instant search feature whose aim was to make search faster and more fluid irrespective of the device used. Google has been doing a lot of background work and developing technologies that improve mobile searches. For instance, in 2016, it introduced the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) which is a project aimed at reducing loading times for web pages on mobile.
Importance of Content and Web Design in Mobile Searches
Even though Google is set to punish slow-loading mobile pages, this will affect a small percentage of queries. The reason being the intent of the search query is a strong signal. This means a page with relevant and great content may still rank highly even though it takes long to load. This emphasis on the quality of content on your website.
To guarantee you quality content, ensure that the following factors are taken care of:
- Keyword rich content and user-targeted
- Organised into thematic subsections
- Should have a strong title and H1 tag
- The content should inspire, entertain, and educate
- Ensure the content is relevant
Before sending out or posting your content, ask yourself if it worth sharing. In this way, you will be the first consumer and approver before sending it to your target audience. Watch the word count on your content. Avoid shorter and lengthy content pieces.
According to a recent study, over 80% of people disappointed with their mobile web browsing experience will not hesitate to use their smartphones for longer if the experience improved. About 64% of smartphone users expect sites to load within 4 seconds.
Combining the above data with the fact that an average website takes about 9 seconds to load on mobile, you have to do more to improve on this metric. There are top of the range web design experts such as Imagine designs that can help you improve your website mobile loading speeds.
Some of the techniques these experts use include reducing image dimensions, client-side processing, and reducing dependencies by loading images through CSS and keeping external stylesheets to a minimum. These designers and developers can also conduct an audit of your website and help you fix obvious page loading errors so that Google can reward you handsomely on ranking.