Google has announced a new speed update for its search ranking algorithm. The Mountain View is constantly changing the way in which it indexes and ranks websites. According to some estimates, Google updates its ranking algorithm up to 600 times per year. Not all of these updates are major, however. In fact, most are minor and have minimal impact on search queries.
About the Speed Update
In January, Google said slow-loading websites will be ranked lower in its mobile index than fast-loading websites. The search engine giant explained by saying that speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches.
“People want to be able to find answers to their questions as fast as possible — studies show that people really care about the speed of a page. Although speed has been used in ranking for some time, that signal was focused on desktop searches. Today we’re announcing that starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches,” wrote Google when announcing the update on its blog.
It’s important to note, however, that Google says the speed update will only affect web pages that deliver the slowest experience to users.
Of course, this shouldn’t come as a surprise given Google’s emphasis on website speed. In 2010, Google officially confirmed its use of speed as a ranking signal. In 2016, the company’s Gary Illyes said the next mobile update would include speed as a ranking signal.
How to Speed Up Your Website
According to Search Engine Journal, the average time it takes to fully load a website on a mobile device is about 22 seconds. That’s significantly longer the average load time for websites viewed on desktop computers, which is about three to four seconds.
There are ways to speed up your website and prevent a rankings drop in Google’s mobile index, however. First and foremost, you should embrace a responsive design that automatically adjusts your website according to the device on which it’s viewed. Not only does this ensure a high level of compatibility with smartphones and tablets, but it also promotes faster load times.
You can also speed up your website by optimizing images before uploading. This includes shrinking the image to the appropriate size, saving it in the appropriate format, and using a third-party optimization tool like Optimizilla.
Finally, make sure your website is hosted on a fast, reliable web host. While shared web hosting is the cheapest, it’s also the slowest. Using a virtual private server (VPS) or dedicated web host will undoubtedly reduce your site’s load times.