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Julia Hammond
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Google Speed Update : How It Could Impact Your Site

News from the digital mothership, Google, was bestowed on us late last week and it could severely impact your page ranking factors. Don’t stress – we have all the information to ensure that you come out on top of the major changes, specifically those that will affect mobile ranking factors.

First, if you are still on the fence about mobile, then you are missing out on a massive audience. Mobile search surpassed desktop searches back in 2016 and has continued to be way ahead ever since.

Sites that have been optimised for mobile users also tended to perform better in terms of Google ranking. However, Google announced last week that changes to the mobile ranking factors are afoot. This means that slight changes to your SEO and PPC efforts will be necessary in order to make sure that this Google Speed update doesn’t undo all of your hard work.

We know what you’re thinking: Hasn’t speed always been a ranking factor for Google?

It has always played a part, and it has definitively seen websites preferred by the algorithm, but it has only just become an official ranking factor.

What is Google Speed?

As stated by Google, “Speed has been used in ranking for some time, that signal was focussed on desktop searches…in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches”.

Basically, the update will be a way of improving the pages suggested to mobile users upon their search. Google also indicated that the update should only affect pages that currently deliver a slower experience to users. Although, if the page delivers relevant and well written content, it still may rank despite speed if it has the top-quality information.

How Do I Know If My Site Will Be Affected?

If you do not have a specific web development team to assess the speed and performance of your website, there is a few things that you can do to determine how your site will live up to the new updates.

Google naturally recommends their own TestMySite, which identifies improvement areas for your mobile pages specifically.

Although the changes aren’t being fully implemented until July, you shouldn’t wait until then to perfect your mobile site. There is a lot you can do ahead of time to ensure that your site speed is performing at its best, and here’s how:

  • AMP Switch: Although they aren’t strictly necessary, Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) can help your site perform better. It alters your site’s source code and strips your standard HTML page to a hosted AMP site. However, the downside is that you sacrifice your page design to one that is AMP approved and delivers a faster speed.
  • The Difference of Mobile Queries: When searching on mobile, users tend to use different search term queries than they would on desktop. For one, mobile searches are usually shorter in nature and tend to be more conversational. This means you have to take a look at the SEO content for your mobile page. Longer-form queries become much shorter, and also tend to be location-based. For instance, a search like “best coffee shop in Melbourne” quickly becomes “best coffee melb” on a smart device, which means, if your page is ranking for shorter form keywords, you need to make sure those pages, in particular, are performing well.
  • Check Site Usability: You need to ensure that your mobile page is suitable for the screen of a smartphone. Navigation is everything, and the UX of a page is a major ranking factor. Check the optimisation of your site, and asses the various pathways that could be taken by users through it to see how well it performs. Diagnosis of these problems can greatly help your site once the update hits.

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The Speed Update and AdWords

To reiterate the point Google made, the update should only really impact sites that give the slowest experience to their users, and only impact certain queries.

However, Google has also made it rather obvious that the speed of a page can have an impact on organic rankings and the Quality Score of a landing page. For those who don’t know, a Quality Score is a part of Pay Per Click advertising and plays a part in determining how much any single click could cost an advertiser.

When it comes to your AdWords pages, there are a few ways to ensure it remains safe in the Speed change. These are:

  • Making sure the content on the landing page is relevant to the keywords featured. This point is particularly important, especially when it comes to Google’s landing page preferences. To Google, the three biggest components that make a great landing page are speed, loading time and relevance to the original search.
  • Providing social proof of your site to add a level of verification for the searcher. Including accolades also allows for clear competency of your business.
  • Allowing your page to be easily navigated by a user and avoid disrupting their ability to view the page by avoiding pop up inclusions. Make any CTA’s visible to the user, and ensure information is both legible and accessible.
  • Ensuring that the load time of your page is at a minimum. Whether through AMP or restructuring, keep your landing page’s load time as small as possible.

The last two points can (and probably will) be affected by the Google Speed update. So, if you don’t want to spend more on clicks, ensure that you make the changes necessary to perform well come July.

By Alexandra KaraoutsadisJulia Hammond

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