How to Stop Google Penalising Your Slow Website This July

Speed is Becoming Increasingly Important – Is Your Site Optimised?

Loading speed has always been an important in SEO, but Google’s new speed metric will penalise the slowest mobile sites.

Ask any SEO consultant to give a list of factors that affect your site’s ranking, and speed will always be up there in the top ten. But while this has been an ever-present factor in desktop searches, Google has recently announced a newspeed update.” They say that: “starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches.”

The new update is no surprise to web designers and SEO experts. In fact, it’s been a long time coming and as far back as 2010, Google was red flagging sites that are slow to load.

So what’s the big change?

While Google has always used speed as a ranking factor for desktop searches, this will be the first time it has been used for ranking pages on its mobile index. Google has, in its usual style, been heavy on words and light on detail in discussing how the update will affect SERP results and exactly how they will define “slow loading.”

They did, however, provide the following comment: “We encourage developers to think broadly about how performance affects a user’s experience of their page and to consider a variety of user experience metrics.”

They also commented that the speed metric will not be a deciding factor and that if a page is slow to load but has “great relevant content,” it will still have every chance of ranking well.

Related:   Is User Experience a Ranking Factor in Google Now?

Put that way, we can see that it really comes down to ensuring your mobile site is as slick and SEO optimised as possible. So what makes a good mobile website? Maybe this is a good time to have a recap.

Optimising your mobile site

Mobile platforms several years ago overtook desktop as the weapon of choice for performing web search, so any site that is not mobile-optimised is going to be putting itself at a massive disadvantage, regardless of updates to the Google search algorithm. Here are some of the key aspects that your SEO consultants will be focusing on when they assess just how good your mobile site is, and what areas can be enhanced:

Clear calls to action – There’s less space to play with on a mobile display so those buttons that visitors press to perform actions, whether that’s to buy something, contact you or find out more, need to be clear and prominent.

Simple menus – Few things are more annoying than trying to scroll down a long menu on a smartphone screen. Keep them short and concise.

Easy on the ads – banners and popups have their place, but you need to be super-cautious not to overuse them. If they get in the way and disrupt the view of your main content, visitors will flee in their droves.

Site search up top – Chances are, visitors have come to your site looking for something in particular. So make it as easy and intuitive for them to do so as possible.

Then look at loading speed – You need to get the basics right before you start worrying about the speed update – because if you don’t, your site is going to struggle to rank well regardless. Now, you can assess those speeds and see what measures you can take to make everything super-slick, for example by reducing the resolution on images and pruning out unnecessary redirects.

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Speeding up a site often requires a detailed technical overhaul to reduce the server load when loading web pages. This can include more advanced page caching, combining and streamlining JavaScript and style sheets, as well as removing redundant code and features. Our web dev team will advise the best way forward to keep your website in the top spots of the search engines.

Read more: Why Do Search Positions Fluctuate So Much? »