It’s been more than a year since we started talking about Google’s transition to a mobile-first index, and we finally caught up with the future: Google announced that starting July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches.
Google wants to make sure that users are able to find the answers to their questions as fast as possible, considering that studies ended up time after time to the same conclusion: when it comes to page loading speed, size (in…seconds?) really does matter.
It’s true that page speed has always been a ranking factor for web pages, but so far the signal was focused on desktop searches.
However, not everything’s lost: the update will only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and only affect a small percentage of queries. The same standard will be applied universally to all pages, regardless the technology used to build the page.
Publishers should have in mind that the intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a weak page with relevant and qualitative content might still rank highly. However, in order to maximize their chance to get organic traffic, website owners should invest in technical optimization, not just on-page SEO.
So far there are no ‘magic tools’ that can predict whether a page will rank or not, but Google encourages developers and publishers to think broadly about how performance affects the user experience of their page.
Developers should consider some metrics to track and to commit to improving, in order to achieve the maximum potential for the content created. We don’t want your hard-working content creators to get frustrated because they get no visibility, right?
Here are some tools you can use to evaluate your website’s performance:
- Chrome User Experience Report, a public dataset of key user experience metrics for popular destinations on the web, as experienced by Chrome users under real-world conditions
- Lighthouse, an automated tool and a part of Chrome Developer Tools for auditing the quality (performance, accessibility, and more) of web pages
- PageSpeed Insights, a tool that indicates how well a page performs on the Chrome UX Report and suggests performance optimizations