Change is Upon Us: What Google’s Upcoming Mobile Page Speed Algorithm Update Means for You and Your Business

There is more to a great website than what meets the eye – behind every site there is a network of interdependent factors that can either help or hinder potential customers’ ability to find and connect with you.

To garner awareness and business, it’s not only important – it’s necessary – that your website maintains high visibility in search engines. What determines that visibility is a constantly evolving blend of website engineering, design, usability, and relevance driven by changes in technology and the way that we interact with our devices? 2015 marked the first year that mobile-based searches surpassed desktop searches, and since then, the ratio of mobile-to-desktop searches continues to grow. In response to this and in an effort to provide a better experience for mobile web searchers, Google began planning for mobile page load speeds to integrate into their algorithm.

Headlining in many conversations here at Adworkshop is Google’s “Speed Update,” the announcement that the speed at which the mobile version of your website loads will play into your mobile search engine visibility.

What you should know about the Google Page Speed update:

  • Speed Update will go into effect July 2018. Websites delivering the “slowest” experience may be moved lower in the search results.
  • A benchmark speed to determine whether your website is “fast” or “slow” has not been provided by Google.
  • Relevant, high-quality content on your mobile site can trump the effects of the Speed Update.
  •  Google announced in 2016 that it would eventually switch to a mobile-first index. This type of search index will reference the mobile version of your website to determine visibility and to retrieve information for search engine results pages.
  • Although a mobile-first index is on the horizon, the Speed Update is a standalone change.
  • Google currently references desktop sites, even for mobile-based searches.
  • Since Adworkshop builds responsive websites, clients’ websites will remain mostly untouched.
  • Google is currently experimenting with a mobile-first index for a small number of sites before ramping up to the rest of the web at an unknown launch date.
  • The prominence of mobile optimization has become pervasive. Other web based platforms outside of search engines have already begun to favor sites that have optimized their mobile page load speed. Facebook, for instance, has already added a signal to the News Feed to show people more stories that will load quickly on mobile and fewer stories that might take longer to load.

Why we suspect the Page Speed Update is being rolled out:

  • While we know that Speed Update is separate from the future mobile-first index change, we suspect that Speed Update is being rolled out in preparation for the mobile-first index.

What Google’s Page Speed update means for your Business:

  • While great site content can, in some cases, trump slow load speed, it is still important to prioritize optimizing for Speed Update to be sure you are garnering the greatest potential visibility in search engines.
  • Matching desktop and mobile content is becoming a necessity. Something as simple as splitting up pages on a mobile site to help speed up load times may be viewed as an inconsistency by Google’s algorithm. While mismatched content isn’t being penalized currently, it may be a factor in the future. It’s also a content and maintenance burden to concern your team with multiple versions of the site.
  • Facebook’s recently added News Feed signal means that posts linked to sites that have a poor mobile experience and slow loading times will suffer from reduced visibility in social channels.

Our plan for thriving through the change:

  • Here at Adworkshop, we proactively employ industry best practices for our search clients’ websites while monitoring for these updates daily. Unlike Speed Update and mobile-first, these updates are not always announced outright. We watch trends in data and research extensively to see where updates may be occurring between the lines, and then innovate accordingly.
  • We also think about these updates when building new websites. All sites are built to be fast, accessible, and search engine optimization-friendly – we know this is important for you, your business, and for your website to shine. We build and deploy sites using a mobile-first approach, optimizing for mobile devices and then rewarding larger screens with enhanced functionality. Some examples include serving smaller, optimized image files, consolidating and compressing site assets, and optimizing load order in website code to ensure that pages are rendered quickly.

What’s your plan?

Are you curious to see how your site speed stacks up? We would be happy to run a complimentary site speed scan for you and provide professional interpretation of what your score means and where the opportunities for optimization are. Prepare your business and website for Googles next round of algorithm changes to stay on top of the search engine results.

Contact us for your complimentary site speed audit.

Adworkshop has been our agency of record for over 25 years. They are more than our marketing partners, they are our friends. With a commitment to excellence, and a desire to improve the results of each successive marketing campaign, the Adworkshop team delivers results that consistently exceed our expectations.
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About Adworkshop

Adworkshop is an employee-owned integrated marketing agency providing strategic consulting and creative marketing solutions that help clients solve their evolving business challenges. Rooted in destination marketing from the 1980 Winter Olympic Games, Adworkshop has grown into an agency of 30+ talented employees whose expertise across marketing disciplines leads to innovative strategies and measurable results for destination marketing organizations, tourism businesses, active outdoor companies, educational institutions, health care companies, economic development agencies, and other businesses.

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