The Google Speed Update: Page speed will become a ranking factor in mobile search

Barry Schwartz on
  • Categories: Channel: SEO, Google: SEO, SEO: Site Speed
  • Google today announced a new ranking algorithm designed for mobile search. The company is calling it the “Speed Update,” and it will only impact a small percentage of queries, Google reiterated to us. Only pages that “deliver the slowest experience to users” will be impacted by this update, the company says.

    The update goes live in July 2018, so webmasters have time to prepare their webpages.

    Google recommends you use the new updated PageSpeed report and tools like LightHouse to measure page speed and make improvements.

    Google’s Zhiheng Wang and Doantam Phan wrote:

    The “Speed Update,” as we’re calling it, will only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries. It applies the same standard to all pages, regardless of the technology used to build the page. 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.

    The issue with the PageSpeed Insights report is that, because it’s using data from the Chrome Browser, it doesn’t have enough data to reliably measure smaller sites, so the speed portion of the report is unavailable for those users. Optimization scores are still available, but that’s not enough to allow sites to tell if they have slow pages or not.

    Back in 2010, Google said page speed was a ranking factor but it “was focused on desktop searches” only. Now, in July 2018, it will look at how fast your mobile pages are and use that as a ranking factor in mobile search. Google has been promising to look at mobile page speed for years now, and it is finally coming.

    It’s not yet clear whether these ranking factors will also be applied to desktop searches, but we’re checking with Google and will update when we receive additional information.

    Postscript: Google has answered several questions for us, which we published in our FAQs on the Google Speed Update story.


    About The Author

    Barry Schwartz
    Barry Schwartz is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry can be followed on social media at @rustybrick, +BarrySchwartz and Facebook. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio and disclosures, click over here.