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Google will take speed into consideration for mobile searches (Update: Rollout begins today)

Google says the change will down-rank websites that take longer to load, regardless of the technology used to build the page.

Published onJuly 9, 2018

Update 07/09/2018 at 2:52 P.M. EST: Google’s update to its search algorithm to prioritize sites with fast mobile page speeds as detailed below will take effect starting today. According to a post on Google’s webmaster blog, the so-called “Speed Update” is rolling out now for all users.

Google encourages webmasters who might be concerned with how the update will affect their rankings to utilize tools to test and optimize their page’s mobile load times.

If you run a website and haven’t checked out your speed rank recently, now would be a good time.

Original Article (01/19/18): Google search results typically emphasizes the most relevant content, which is why I do not normally need to go past the first page of search results. That looks to change this summer, when the search giant takes speed into consideration for website rankings.

Referring to the change as the “Speed Update,” Google says it will down-rank websites that “deliver the slowest experience to users.” These websites, which Google says comprise a small percentage of queries, will feel the hurt starting this July.

The upcoming change is not so drastic as to make page speed the sole determining factor — relevant content that loads slowly will still creep to the top.

Also, the Speed Update is not a tool that affected pages can use. Those websites are advised to turn to the Chrome User Experience Report, Lighthouse, and PageSpeed Insights to evaluate a page’s performance.

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What the Speed Update truly represents is Google’s intention to prioritize page speed, with the clearest indicator being the introduction of AMP sites in 2016. Most recently, Google updated its search index to favor the mobile version over the desktop version. This forces web publishers to make sure that content on their mobile sites are at parity with what is on their desktop counterparts.

The change could also push more web publishers to adopt AMP, though it should be noted that AMP pages will not automatically be given priority. Google says the Speed Update looks at a page’s speed, “regardless of the technology used to build the page.”

Even so, AMP sites already load much faster than traditional mobile pages, so we would not be surprised if there was some sort of boost in standard adoption.

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