If there wasn’t enough proof online is trending towards complete mobile dominance, Google has rolled out its latest algorithm update to all users…
Which places a heavy emphasis on the speed of mobile sites.
But what does this mean for your website?
Will you have to scramble to make changes on your backend or will your site gain positions in the rankings?
What Google’s Speed Update means for your business
The latest in Google’s SEO ranking algorithm reveals that websites with demonstrated faster load times will be given ranking priority over those that do not.
Keep in mind though that this new update only affects mobile websites.
So, your desktop rankings should remain consistent since Google had already previously released an algorithm update to prioritise faster desktop sites.
Another thing to note is that this update doesn’t penalise your site for being slow—it just ranks faster ones slightly higher.
And that’s only if the sites are equal in content quality.
Sites that are more relevant to a searcher’s query—or more thorough in explanation and research—will still rank higher than those sites with higher load speed.
How to test your site’s mobile speed
Not sure how to check your site’s speed to see if Google’s speed update applies to you?
There’s plenty of tools online that allow you to check your desktop and mobile speed.
In fact, there’s one straight from the horse’s mouth: Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
Just enter your site URL and it’ll analyse your speed across both mobile and desktop.
But because this update only affects your mobile site, ignore the desktop analytics for now (unless your site has a super low score).
In the mobile PageSpeed section, you’ll see where Google ranks your site.
Obviously, if it says “Fast” in green, your page is already where it needs to be and you don’t need to take further action.
But if your site logs as either “Medium” or “Low”, take a look at the optimisation suggestions and send them to your web developer.
Another tool to take a look at is Pingdom:
Pingdom will give you clear insights into your site’s load time, how fast it is compared to other sites and what’s holding your site back from performing at its maximum capacity.
Some quicks ways to improve site speed for Google’s Speed Update
Limit HTTP requests
Every time you visit a website, your computer has to request that every file on that website gets sent to your browser.
But these files are requested one at a time in what’s called an HTTP request.
So, the more files you have on your site, the more HTTP requests a user’s computer will need to make.
And the more requests made, the slower the site will load.
Lowering the amount of HTTP requests made to your site will increase its speed.
Learn more about limiting HTTP requests from HubSpot.
Compression on your website works much the same way as it works with emails or files sent over GDrive: it reduces the size of larger files so they’ll download faster.
Adding compression such as Gzip to your website files can reduce the size of your pages and style sheets by up to 70%.
It accomplishes this by eliminating white space that separates code and finds like strings in a text file and inserts a temporary replacement for those strings.
You can find out more about site compression on GTmetrix.
Enable Browser Caching
Your cache acts almost like a temporary storage unit.
If you view a site and leave it, that page’s data is temporarily saved in the cache, just in case you want to visit that site again and view its content.
If you do, the cache will quickly access and reload this temporarily saved data, which is faster than pulling up the page fresh from the website.
With this in mind, caching will allow for your site’s regular visitors to pull up information faster, minimising loading time, visitor wait time and helping with your rankings.
Reduce Image Sizes
The number one culprit behind beautifully designed but painfully slow sites.
Making sure that the images on your page are an acceptable size will ensure that your site loads faster.
But don’t worry; this won’t compromise definition.
You can reduce the dimensions to make the image smaller or blur out unimportant parts in an image editing program like Photoshop.
Finalise this process by reducing the quality of the image ever so slightly and you’ll still have an image you’ll be proud to show.
Reduce the Number of Plugins on Your Site
Taking inventory of your site plugins is a must, especially if your site is slower than usual.
It could be that you have a bunch of redundant plugins that are only slowing you down.
Sit with your tech team and see what can be removed.
You could even take advantage of auditing the whole shebang in order to really streamline your site for a greater user experience and help your rankings in the process.