Google’s Speed Update: Welcome to Mobile Mayhem

The Mobile Speed Algorithm Update implemented in July 2018 has been dubbed “the speed update” because it punishes websites whose mobile versions load slowly. We’ve known for a while that Google likes speed, but prior to the update, the search engine only rated sites based on their desktop speed. Now, mobile speed is a factor in the algorithm as well. 

Why Did Google Roll It Out?

Google knows that for web users, the Internet is all about convenience, and convenient equals fast. Site visitors have less patience today than ever before, and a slow loading site is doomed to abandonment. In short, users have come to expect speed; this Google algorithm update is simply a reflection of this new reality.

How Will the Mobile Speed Algorithm Update Affect Rankings?

 

Google says it won’t, well at least not that much. In their own words, the company says this algorithm update will “only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries.”

Still, it’s now a part of the overall Google algorithm, and you can bet that this is only the beginning. Our advice? Ensure your mobile site is up to snuff now before the penalty for slow-loading mobile is harsher.

The Importance of Mobile Optimization

If content is king, then mobile is its master. More and more searches are being performed on a phone rather than a desktop computer, and it’s up to web developers to keep up with this growing trend. If your site isn’t mobile-optimized, it’s time to get on the mobile train—now!

Percentage of Mobile Searches Is Through the Roof

Some reports say that up to 70% of all searches are now performed on mobile devices. This should come as no surprise. Savvy mobile app developers have made it possible to do nearly anything you want online without having to dust off the old laptop. We’ve become increasingly reliant on smartphones, and there’s no going back. 

Mobile Optimization Keeps Users Happy

At the end of the day, mobile optimization is really about your users too, not just the search engines. When your site is mobile-friendly, visitors will stay on your pages longer and your conversions will increase, whether that means downloads, clicks, or sales. 

Optimizing your site for mobile makes it user-friendly, no matter what device your visitors are using. 

How to Optimize for Mobile

More and more Google algorithm updates are rewarding sites that are optimized for mobile and punishing those that aren’t. Google even has their own tool for assessing a site’s mobile-friendliness.

The signs are all there—it’s time to optimize for mobile!

Is Your Site Mobile?

Before you do anything else, you need to determine if you have a solid mobile site to work with.

If your visitors are still accessing your desktop version from their smartphones, then you have a problem.

You need a mobile version suited for mobile searches and ASAP. Even if you have a separate url for your mobile site or are using dynamic serving, you’re behind the times.

That brings us to our next point—the need for responsive web design. 

Implement Responsive Design

Mobile optimization technology has come along way. You no longer need to have separate urls for your desktop and mobile sites.

Nor do you need to overhaul your content for every new device that comes along.

Thanks to responsive design, you can have a single url and still deliver customized content to users depending on the device they’re using.

Plus, with responsive design, you eliminate redirects that cause sites to lag. 

Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test

When optimizing for mobile, don’t take it from us—listen to Google. Just head over to the search engine’s signature mobile friendly test and type in your url to get instant results. 

If your site is easy to access and use on a mobile device, then you’ll get the green light from Google:

 

 

The test will also alert you to any problems with page loading, so you can take care of those tout suite. 

Tips for Increasing Speed and Getting Ahead of the Google Algorithm Update

Google recommends that a mobile website load in less than a second.

That’s less time than it took you to read that last sentence.

To be this lightening fast, your mobile site is going to need some (read: a lot of) help. 

The recent mobile speed update is a clear sign that Google is punishing sites with slow mobile versions.

But how do you increase your speed? There are several different things you can try to ensure your mobile site loads quickly and is user friendly. 

Test Your Speed

Use PageSpeed Insights to see where you stand before you start making changes to increase your speed on mobile devices. You’ll get a speed score as well as recommendations for improving this score. These recommendations can be found in the “Opportunities” section:

 

Eliminate (or Minimize) Pop-Ups

Not many visitors like pop-ups, but Google is a little more forgiving.

Although they punish sites for using what they call “intrusive interstitial” pop-ups, they’ll allow others to slide by without penalty.

Still, pop-ups can slow your site down, so it’s best to use them minimally if you have to use them at all. 

Expect More Mobile Algorithm Updates 

With near-complete smartphone saturation, we can only expect that Google will continue to update their algorithms with more mobile-centric factors.

They’re pleased as punch with the results of the mobile speed algorithm update, saying it has vastly enhanced user experience already, so you can be sure there’s more to come down the line.

Stay ahead of the game by keeping up with the latest mobile optimization tips, technology, and trends.

Your users will thank you with increased conversions, and your rankings will improve too.