Google intends on better serving mobile users by punishing websites that load slowly through their new algorithm that goes into effect in July 2018.
Google announced on January 17th, 2018 that they were releasing a new algorithm for website ranking that is designed, specifically, for mobile search. It was identified – at that time – as the “Speed Update”.
While the update is designed to impact a relatively small amount of search queries, Google expressed that website pages that provide users with the slowest of experiences will be detrimentally impacted by this new update.
In order to ensure that your website is “up to speed” and will not be negatively impacted – in terms of ranking – you may use the PageSpeed Insights page provided by Google and/or specially-designed tools like Lighthouse.
These will measure the overall speed of your pages and help you in making improvements to your website that will optimize speeds for visitors that are accessing your website with a mobile device.
In 2010, Google did express the fact that page speed was a factor in ranking websites; however, at that time, it placed an emphasis on searches conducted utilizing desktop computers. Technological advancements in the mobile industry has resulted in more mobile users than users of standard computers.
As a result, that has now changed. Mobile search is taking off. If you want to rank highly, it is imperative that your pages are loading quickly for the mobile traffic to your website.
The pages on your website are graded as “fast”, “slow”, and “average”. Fast grades mean that your pages are the in the top third of the fastest in page loads. Slow means the pages are in the slowest third in terms of page loads. Average grades mean that it is in the middle third of all of the page loads.
Grades are determined by analyzing the median between two distinct values. Those are referred to as “DOM Content Loaded” or “DCL” and “First Contentful Paint” or “FCP”.
Google has stated that there will be pages that cannot be reviewed in PageSpeed Insights because there will not be enough information available to determine page speed.
If this occurs with your website, it is advised that you utilize Lighthouse for evaluation.
There is a bit of good news in all of this. If, by chance, your page loads slowly for mobile users, it may not drop your ranking in a significant manner. If your content is relevant and high in quality, your website may still rank high. Speed is just one ranking signal that is utilized by Google.
It is not the be all, end all.
The purpose and intent of this new algorithm is to improve the user experience for those that use mobile devices to access their internet searches.