After originally being announced back in January, Google’s latest algorithm change, The Speed Update, has now rolled out to all users as of early July. Google has always been focused on making sure that search results deliver the best user experience, and recently their focus has been on ensuring sites load quickly for searchers, most notably through their push for AMP, which aims to deliver a faster, more sleek mobile browsing experience.
In the past, speed was only a factor in determining desktop search rankings. The Speed Update expands this to mobile, with page speed now influencing page rank on mobile search. Google expects this update to only affect a small percentage of pages, and sites that are already fast won’t see any page rank gains from further improving speed. It’s important for businesses to note that, according to their blog post on the update, the “intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.”
While it’s still worth ensuring your website loads quickly, that should not come at the expense of content quality.
In terms of speed, there are several things an ecommerce business can do to get a leg up on the competition.
Creating an AMP page is a great way to streamline a page and reduce its load times significantly on mobile. More generally, optimizing on-page file sizes, minimizing redirects, and reducing server response times will all greatly increase the speed of a page.
To measure the effectiveness of your changes, Google recommends using these three tools: The Chrome User Experience Report, a public database of user website experiences, Lighthouse, an automated website quality audit tool, and PageSpeed Insights, which analyses a webpage and suggests performance improvements. Unfortunately, these tools won’t tell you if any changes you make have improved your page rank, but they are a great way to quantify any speed improvements you make.
Unless your ecommerce website is extremely slow to load on mobile, it’s not worth completely overhauling it because of this update. Continuing to focus on great content that is relevant to your users is still the best way to stay on Google’s good side, and improve your position in search rankings.