Is Your Website Prepared for the New Google Speed Update?

Google just announced on their official webmaster blog, that a new major update is coming this year. This is called the “Speed Update”, which will be rolling out in July 2018.

Website speed has been a ranking factor for quite some time for desktop searches; however the new update will be focusing on mobile search.

The user intent will be still a priority, so a slightly slower website can still rank higher than others. For example if the user searches for a brand name, the brand’s website will have a higher priority in results.

Speed & Performance Testing Tools

In the Webmaster Search Console you can find a lot of information about your website; however website performance and speed will not be added (at least for now). Nor will Google announce you, if your website is slower than the average.

What can you do?

Well, there are couple tools you can use to measure the performance of your website. Google recommends couple of tools for testing website speed.

  • The Page Speed Insight is a great tool developed by Google, which served only for testing page performance optimization, but now it will show website speed data as well. This is the first tool Google recommends in their blog post.

google page speed insights new feature

google speed insights page load distributions

  • Another tool they recommend is the Lighthouse, which is an extension for Chrome DevTools. With this tool you can run audits right in your Chrome browser.
  • The Chrome User Experience Report is another recommended tool, which aggregates user experience metrics by origin. This uses the Public Google BigQuery dataset and it is a very complex tool. Some level of experience is required to analyze this data. Another problem with this tool is that for low traffic websites, Chrome browser can’t gather enough information therefore can’t render data.

These are the three tools that Google recommends, but there are other tools you can use to analyze the performance of your website.

  • Pingdom Website Speed Test is a simple and straightforward tool you can use for free to analyze loading time from different location.
  • GTmetrix will analyze your website’s speed and will give you insights on how your website loads and will give you recommendation on how to optimize it.
  • WebPageTest as another great option to test the speed and performance of your website, and find out how much times it takes to load your site from different locations.

The Effects of Speed Update

Google officials said that this update will have no effect on desktop searches. They also said that only a small amount of queries will be affected on mobile search.

Google also confirmed that the Speed Update is just another factor in their search algorithm, along hundreds of other signals. This update will take place automatically, website owners will not receive any notification that they might be affected (like in the case of the HTTPS update), so it is advised to prepare for this update.

In case that your website is slower than the average but it has AMP, then in the mobile search the speed of the AMP version will be taken in consideration.

How to Speed Up Your Website?

In 2017 John Mueller said, that websites loading above 30 seconds are considered very slow by Google, and this is the threshold were the algorithm considers excluding this website from search results.

You can watch the full Google Webmaster Central office-hangouts video below:

Obviously, users will not wait 30 seconds for a website to load.

The tools mentioned above are a great way to speed test your website. If the results show 8-10 second loading time, or above this, probably you should consider making some significant changes to your website.

Users usually wait on average up to 5 seconds for a website to fully load. If your website takes more time to load, most likely the user will hit the back button and you will lose a potential customer.

The goal is to be below 5 seconds.

There are multiple ways to speed up your website. The tools I mentioned in this article will tell you what changes to do in order to improve performance and speed.

If the changes don’t bring the expected results, probably the problem comes from other place. Web hosting can significantly affect not only user experience but also Google rankings. If your website is slow because of your current hosting provider, you should switch to another hosting immediately.

HostGator is a reliably hosting company, offering high performance and speed. We’ve tested their service; you can read our detailed HostGator review.

Conclusion

If you want to stay in this ever changing game, called “Google Rankings”, you have to play by the rules. It’s really not that hard to optimize your website to achieve better performance and improve user experience.

If you might need help with WordPress speed and performance optimization, please contact us.

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