The Google Speed Update - Mobile Page Speed Rankings Factor in 2018

Google has announced that mobile page speed will become a ranking factor as of July 2018. As we predicted in our SEO trends for 2018, mobile-first search rankings are becoming a reality as more and more users switch their journey more towards a “mobile first” search experience. According to their Official Webmaster Blog, a new algorithm that’s specifically designed for mobile search will be rolled out to target pages that are delivering the slowest experience. Whilst this will only affect a relatively small number of sites, it’s important to ensure that yours isn’t among them.

The New Algorithm is Named The Google Speed Update

Although page speed has been a ranking factor for several years, it’s always been based on desktop searches. User experience is very important to Google and Page Speed is definitely becoming a more essential component of good site hygiene and the rank brain piece of the overall algorithm.  However this upcoming change, known as the ‘Google Speed Update’, will now take mobile page speed into account too. With the majority of search queries now taking place via mobile, it’s no surprise that Google is focusing more attention on this type of user experience. Yet there’s no indication that speed will outweigh other ranking factors. In fact, they’ve categorically stated that user intent will still be a strong ranking signal, and could compensate for slower speeds in some situations:

“The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.”

– Posted by Zhiheng Wang and Doantam Phan On Google Webmaster Blog –

What does this change mean?

The upcoming change will be completely algorithmic. This means webmasters won’t receive a notification in Google Search Console or be able to use a tool to identify whether a page has been directly affected by the new ranking factor. Thankfully the advance warning means there’s plenty of time to get prepared.

How To Stay Ahead of the Upcoming Speed Update Algorithm

Google has already provided guidance on how to stay on the right side of this update and avoid a penalty. It recommends utilizing its suite of developer tools to analyze your site’s performance and identify improvement areas. These include the following tools:

  • PageSpeed Insights – a simple tool that analyzes page speed and suggests improvements.
  • Lighthouse – an automated tool for improving the quality of web pages by auditing their performance and accessibility.
  • Chrome User Experience Report – this includes public data related to Chrome user experience metrics under real-world conditions.

These tools can highlight quick fixes such as minifying CSS elements, reducing the size of images, and using a content delivery network (CDN) to assit in preparing for the Google speed update. Small tweaks to your site can have a dramatic effect on site speed for both mobile and desktop users alike. This not only improves your site’s quality in the eyes of Google but enhances the overall experience for users too. Because ultimately we’re creating content for real people to consume and engage with, not just for crawler bots to index.

Do you have questions about optimizing your site for the Google Speed Update? Our SEO and web development team are specialists in this area and always stay ahead of changing online technologies. They can advise you on the best approach for your website, whether you’re a small business or large enterprise. Fill out the form below to learn more about our SEO services.

Request a Consultation