Google Speed Update: When Web Performance Impacts SEO, How Do You Ensure Your Mobile Site is Up to Speed?
On January 17, Google announced that it would be changing the way its website search algorithm operates for mobile devices. Called “Speed Update”, this update was effective on July 2018 and takes into account web performance (the speed of displaying a site). This major change means that businesses must modify their mobile sites in order to prevent a reduction in traffic.
Just like Google searches done on a desktop, as of July, mobile searches now also consider speed. The Silicon Valley company has indeed expressed that mobile content, even if very relevant, will be bumped down the search engine’s results pages if it takes too long to load.
It is commonly accepted that a page’s loading speed has a strong impact on conversion rates, and as a result, on the overall performance of online sales. With this announcement, Google takes a step further by stating that a mobile site with poor web performance will lose visibility by being less well referenced. The direct result is a reduction in the number of visits to the site. Online sales numbers are directly linked to these two factors, so a site’s profitability hangs in the balance.
In June 2017, 56% of visits to websites in France were made from a mobile device (source DN/Médiamétrie and eStat), so online retailers should not just think “mobile first” but “fast mobile first”, or they risk jeopardizing their sales volumes. The American giant’s decision to demand good user experience will require online retailers to change in step.
With this change, e-merchants must therefore work to improve their mobile web performance. More than 500 online businesses have already followed the steps below to avoid being relegated to the famous search engine’s lower ranks:
1/ Identify Your Key Pages
Google is a major source of traffic for e-commerce sites. Based on what they search and Google’s index, web users won’t all land on the same page. It is therefore best to first identify the pages upon which users most frequently land, and then focus your efforts on those ones first. The most cost-effective and pragmatic approach is to take note of the most important pages for your business and concentrate on them.
2/ Compare the Speed of Your Key Pages To Those of Your Competitors
By using Google’s automatic test page, you can compare your site to that of your competitors. When the test is complete, you just have to select your industry to see if you are one of the good or bad students.
Among the most important recommendations:
– Use a cache system (CDN)
– Enable compression on your server
– Compress and resize images in order to provide the user with content that is always perfectly tailored to their device
The list of optimizations to complete (and to maintain over time!) is long. Google also
provides PageSpeed Insights, a tool you can use to determine if the improvements you implement on your site are making an immediate effect.
An e-commerce site is a complex and perpetually moving machine. Every week, your site undergoes several changes that may lead to unexpected slowdowns or disruptions. If these performance problems are not identified and corrected before Google next analyzes your site, they can have serious repercussions on your site’s ranking. Implementing a system of continuous measurement, slowdown identification, and alerting is therefore necessary for your site’s long-term success.