The expected Google Speed Update will affect Mobile Search and SEO
It is confirmed now that Google will use Mobile Page Speed as a ranking signal in their mobile search when the new algorithm is introduced. This development is scheduled to roll out in July 2018 when Google are expected to release a new ranking algorithm dedicated to Mobile Search. The good news would appear to be that only a minority of queries will be impacted by Google’s update. In the interim, webmasters have the opportunity to make the necessary webpage adjustments to avoid any penalties that might be imposed for poor page speed and performance. Though it all seems a little vague Google recommends that you use the new ‘updated Page Speed report’ and tools such as ‘Lighthouse’ to measure page speed and implement the required page adjustments to improve performance and speed.
According to two of Google’s technical experts this ‘Speed Update algorithm’ will only affect the slowest of pages with the slowest delivery of user experience. The same standard will be applied to all pages and will have a universal application. Both Google’s Zhiheng Wang and Doantam Phan insist that a slow page may still achieve a top position in the page rankings if it presents authentic, authoritative relevant content. This adds further confusion unfortunately to webmaster’s understanding of Google’s intent. However, Gary Ilyes of Google has confirmed that they are rewriting their page speed algorithm for mobile. This may inform some of the confusion surrounding the impending new algorithm and the launch of ‘mobile first index’ by clearly indicating that page speed will be a major factor in SERPS. There is a question about how Google measures page speed since it has been measured of desktop speed and not mobile, up to now. He has stressed that going forward desktop speed will be less important than mobile page speed. It would appear that Google is going to move their entire search index to mobile-first. The two existing search indexes, mobile and desktop, are going to be combined into one index. The Mobile version of a page will be crawled first by the index which clearly indicates that the mobile version of your site will be the first one crawled – not the desktop.
The key element for publishers will be:
- the necessity to have mobile first and foremost
- the mobile site cannot be an amended or dumbed down version of your desktop site
- ensure that all elements of your website are crawlable on Mobile
- ensure that structured data, meta descriptions, tags etc are replicated on mobiles exactly as they are on desktop.
The message to all website publishers is to take steps, before the new algorithm rollout, to ensure your mobile site is equal in all aspects to your desktop version. If it is not then the outcome could be damaging. You need to take care that all the enhanced elements of your site are as crawlable on mobile as they are on desktop. This is all motivated by Google’s growing desire to provide increasingly faster rich query results that improve user’s search satisfaction.
In the light of emerging markets globally, Google is even more determined to push the envelope with page speed, especially in an environment where connectivity and connection speeds vary greatly. The need for instant delivery of the content the user is looking for, is the motivating factor behind joint PWAs (Progressive Web Apps) and AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) technology. Though AMP presents certain weaknesses for publishers, working better for some than for others, the single clear message to webmasters is – optimise your site for instant loading, fast speeds and performance!