Mobile Page Speed is Now a Ranking Factor — Here’s How to Improve Yours
Google recently announced that page speed will be a ranking factor in mobile search results starting in July 2018. You might be surprised and wondering, “wasn’t it already a factor?” The answer is… kind of. Page speed has been a ranking factor for quite some time, but mostly for desktop searches. Mobile rankings took desktop speed into account, but it had never been its own factor before.
The relevancy of your website to a user’s search query is still the biggest ranking factor, but sites with very slow mobile page speeds will be penalized with lower ranks. Google has made it clear, however, that the update should only affect the worst offenders and will only come into play for a handful of queries — for now. Even if your website isn’t explicitly penalized, poor page speed times will still significantly deter visitors.
Users are much more likely to leave the page or “bounce” off of the site if the pages load slowly — they might think the page doesn’t work or will look elsewhere for a more professional source.
Check Your Page Speed Right Now
Google provides a few resources that reveal your site’s speed and identify the main issues contributing to slow load times, with tips on how to resolve them.
Test My Sitewill tell you approximately how long your site takes to load and how many visitors you could be losing because of that speed. It also compares you to other websites in your industry, identifying where you stand against your competitors. You can also get a report sent to your email detailing exactly how to increase your speeds.
PageSpeed Insightsalso provides detailed speed results and solutions for your mobile and desktop website. They use metrics like First Contentful Paint (FCP) and DOM Content Loaded (DCL) to measure performance.
FCP measures how long it takes for the user to see a single piece of content on the site (even if the site hasn’t loaded completely). If a site takes 10 seconds to load completely and leaves you with a white screen for the first 9 seconds, you may assume something’s broken and click away. On the other hand, if you see the site load an image in the first 3 seconds, then another image, then some text, and finally finish loading, you would be more engaged throughout the process. Google considers a good FCP to be times that are close to or under 1.0 seconds. Anything over 2.1 seconds is considered poor.
DCL is DOM Content Loaded. This measures the length of time it takes the HTML document (basic structure of the web page) to be completely loaded and parsed. Since significant pictures and text tend to load before the HTML document is fully loaded, Google considers anything close to or less than 1.4 seconds to be good. Anything over 2.8 seconds is considered poor.
3 Easy Ways to Ensure Your Mobile Page Speeds Are Lightning Fast
The easiest way to improve page speed is to optimize your images. To maintain good speeds, a web page should be no more than 1 or 2 MB, but you might find that certain sites have images that are as heavy as an entire page!
Avoid redirects on your page. Making the user move from one page to another lengthens the time they have to wait, so it’s better to avoid redirects all together. Varvy.com provides a guide on finding unnecessary redirects and removing them.
It’s always been important for page speeds to be optimized on both desktop and mobile — fast speeds mean a seamless user experience — but now that Google has confirmed it as a ranking factor, it’s crucial to the continued success of your online brand.