Google's Speed update: Should you panic?

Jul 03, 2018

Google July Update

The search algorithms of Google have gone through plenty of changes this year, from the rumoured update on the 20th of February to the first Mobile-First index roll-outs. For Summer, Google has confirmed an update which could affect your site. For July, we're looking into Google's Speed Update, which is a new algorithmic change set to begin renovating how they rank sites under performance. And a dive into how you can analyse your site's performance with improvements to better your user's experience.

What is Google's Speed update?

Back in January, Google announced a new algorithm update produced for mobile search which is set to roll out this month, this update will only affect a small percentage of search results which prevents a mobile user from experiencing considerably slow web pages. This year, page speed has been brought up a great deal within the SEO-world, as it is a key factor when it comes to the user experience and already poses as a ranking influence.

Quoted from neilpatel.com

"47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less"

Which is a considerable amount of people in terms of how many use the Internet (Which is over 3 billion!). Which is more than enough reason to begin optimising your site to reach high speeds for the user experience, regardless of the upcoming update.

Back in 2010, Google confirmed that site speed is counted as a ranking factor. This was decided after running studies on how users respond to page speed - which was actually done by purposely slowing down their search results to measure the impact on behaviour.

"All other things being equal, more usage, as measured by number of searches, reflects more satisfied users. Our experiments demonstrate that slowing down the search results page by 100 to 400 milliseconds has a measurable impact on the number of searches per user of -0.2% to -0.6% (averaged over four or six weeks depending on the experiment). That's 0.2% to 0.6% fewer searches for changes under half a second!"

Is the Speed Update important to you?

Short answer, Yes and No.

Long answer, while it is only going to affect a small percentage of sites and even slow ones with high quality content will still rank, you don't want to be one of the unlucky ones that suffer from this. So for Google's Speed Update it's a recommendation to go over your site using the recommended tools given by Google which was mentioned in their Webmasters blog. Personally, I have been using Google Lighthouse a lot recently to measure a sites performance, which gives a respectable insight to performance. You can download Google Lighthouse as an extension to your Chrome browser, to use it, all you have to do is be on the website you'd like to check and generate the report through the lighthouse icon at the top right corner.

Google Lighthouse covers these main points for performance:

  • Eliminating render-blocking sources
  • Image compression
  • Text compression
  • Defer unused scripts
  • Minification of scripts

I would say these are the main highlights though there is an extensive amount of technical changes you can make towards improving your page speed! Apart from that, the report is really easy to understand and navigate to assist your improvements - giving drop-down boxes for each of the resources it points out to you showing where they can be improved.

google lighthouse key performance factors

Google lighthouse features for performance

To also mention, Lighthouse doesn't just cover your sites performance. It also covers your SEO, Accessibility, Best Practises and whether your site follows the Progressive Web App Checklist. These all assist in creative a better experience for your sites audience - which is a big thumbs up from Google!

My final thoughts

While Google's Speed Update is rolling out in July, I can't see it massively impacting the SERP's, though it is an indicator we should be looking into our sites performance slightly deeper. It's already a ranking factor as Google looks for the best user experience. For mobile, it will be investigated differently from how it would be on desktop. Utilising Google's free tools for measuring your sites performance points you in the right direction towards improving your speed and allowing the users on your site to have a pleasant experience.

For a specialist insight into your sites performance you can contact us here.

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