Google’s Mobile Speed Update

Created On: January 29, 2018

There is a Google algorithm update, on average, three times a day. The old saying rings true: the only constant is change, especially in digital. Internally, our team keeps the coffee hot and stays on top of Google updates to understand how they can facilitate efficiency and performance for our clients. There was a notable update this week that will change the landscape of mobile that we felt compelled to share. Labeled the “speed update,” Google will begin ranking mobile search by page speed beginning July 2018.

What is Google Ranking?

This is the position a website is listed on a Google search. One of the ranking factors contributing to placement of a website on a Google search is page speed. Other important factors include mobile responsiveness, on-page meta tags, and a robust backlink portfolio, but that’s a deeper conversation for another blog.

How are Mobile Sites Currently Ranked?

Traditionally, Google has applied desktop rankings to mobile sites. Meaning, a mobile search ranking mirrors a desktop search regardless of specific mobile design, functionality, and user experience of the site. This latest update is the biggest change to mobile ranking since 2015, when Google implemented a mobile friendly tag to note websites that were optimized. But for the most part, mobile rankings have stayed parallel to desktop rankings.

How’s Your Mobile Site Performing?

We live in a world where not all mobile sites are optimized. They’re like the younger sibling who gets their big sibling’s old winter coat. Often a desktop website is created, time is dedicated to strategy and content is detailed. When it comes to the mobile version of the website, templates, for the most part, provide a nice safe landing to translate the desktop experience to mobile. In short, it’s been assumed that holding down the desktop site with rich SEO is most important, then mobile will follow. But this isn’t necessarily an answer for mobile moving into Q3 of 2018. As more users turn to mobile searches, Google is finding a way to make their experience more meaningful.

Did you know? The bounce rate for a mobile site that takes 10 seconds to load is 123%. The bounce rate of websites that take anywhere from 1-5 seconds to load is 90%. That’s 10% short of losing every single visitor to your mobile site who clicked on the page. Where do all those conversions go?

To understand where you’re going, it’s important to how a clear view of where you are. Check out Google’s Chrome User Experience Report to measure the current speed of your mobile site.

Okay, Just Tell Me Two Things Real Quick My Mobile Site Needs.

That’s a short list. But we get it, you’re busy. So here’s 2 tips from our team:

  1. User Experience.

    Decode’s Creative Director, Gibson Hall, lays it out: “Gone are the days of long-scrolling one-page websites. Not only do these one-page websites make it difficult for mobile users to find what they need because of information overload, but including so much copy and images makes the web page heavier and also slower. Instead, allow users to navigate throughout the website. Clicking through to another page helps decrease bounce rate (this is good!) and also keeps each page lightweight (this is very, very good!). Combining both of these factors is great for SEO. Keep it simple and quick for users to let them find what they need.”

  2. Mobile Responsiveness.

    Consumer expectations for mobile are very high,” said Gavin Marks, principal at Decode Digital. “Whether you’re talking about huge companies or very small businesses, most industries are going to see far more traffic on mobile devices than desktop. It’s no longer just a good thing to have—a premium mobile experience is mandatory to stay relevant and effective.”

What’s Next?

Continued innovation. There are 6 months between when this blog was published and when the mobile speed update is launched in July 2018. If your mobile site falls into the category that takes up to 5 seconds to load, there’s a likely probability that you’re losing 90% of all visitors and conversions. We have a title for that in the Decode halls—it’s termed “ouch.”

At Decode, we don’t shy away from the fact that we take time to plan, integrate, and design. If you have any questions about anything mobile, jump on our comments section and let’s chat. If you know your mobile site needs work before the Google speed update launches in July 2018, our team has enough coffee on hand to tackle the project.