As the largest search engine on the planet, Google is always working to retain its position by constantly improving its search algorithm so that it yields better results for the end user. There are many factors that go into how various webpages are ranked depending on what search terms someone types into Google. Some of these variables include a website’s technical structure, navigation, links, meta tags and content, which includes the presence of critical keywords.
Google has come out with many updates to their algorithm over the years. A number of these have attempted to weed out webpages that don’t deliver useful content to those searching for helpful information. Some of these, such as the “Fred” update in March of 2017, targeted websites with low-value content, and some have targeted pages with aggressive advertising.
People want answers to their questions or solutions to their problems when they start an internet search, and a page of links or ads is generally not helpful in this regard. For this reason, Google rewards those pages that visitors spend more time on with higher search rankings since this is a strong indication that they are getting valuable information from those pages. Beyond content considerations, another important search ranking factor is the overall user experience, and a key part of this is page load times.
The Attribute of Page Performance Gets a Google Algorithm Boost
If you run a business in Bucks County or anywhere else in the Philadelphia area, you know your customers want their questions answered promptly. The same is true for internet users when they start a search query, and this is why Google is rolling out their new speed update. Basically, websites that are particularly slow in loading will find that this unfortunate aspect of their site will start to hurt their search rank on Google search engine results pages even more than it already may have.
Initially, when word of this impending update first came out, it was only going to be applied to mobile searches, but Google has since confirmed that this algorithm update will affect searches on laptops and desktops as well. That said, the greatest impact will probably still be on mobile searches since page load times was mainly just a search ranking criteria for desktops in the past.
It Should Only Affect Search Rankings for the Slowest Websites
Google has been careful to point out that this algorithm change should only affect the slowest websites and won’t be triggered by the vast majority of search queries. It seems to be geared toward raising the minimum performance standards of the internet by impeding the search rank of websites that are still truly slow in a day and age where people want instant results. That said, Google is also quick to point out that page load speed is only one factor, and if a website has strong, relevant content and other SEO-friendly attributes, it may still rank well. Also, if pages on your site already load fairly quickly, then making them go even faster won’t affect your search rankings in any measurable way.
How Do You Tell if Your Website Is Likely to Be Hurt by This Algorithm Update?
If you’re not sure if your website is up to the performance expectations of this Google speed update, there are tools you can use to measure it. Your webmaster should have a look at the metrics on the Chrome User Experience Report as well as discerning any relevant data with the Lighthouse tool and PageInsights tool. These tools measure website performance across a number of attributes including the all-important factor of speed for this new update. If you’re unsure of your website’s performance, you may want to have this looked into quickly because this algorithm change rolled out on July 9, 2018.
If You Have a Good Website, This Update Shouldn’t Make Much of an Impact
This update was announced back in January of this year, so your webmaster should not be caught off guard now that it’s taking effect. Additionally, an excellent, effective website should already have certain basics in place. A simple, intuitive navigation system and user experience, compelling content with appropriate keywords, a mobile-friendly design, and relevant links are just some of these. Fast page load times are simply an integral part of the positive user experience that your website should already be providing to every visitor.
Page load speed has been a ranking factor for years now, but this new algorithm update really raises the bar for websites that are truly behind the times in this regard. Because page load times were already a critical component of a visitor’s experience on your website, you hopefully won’t be affected by this update at all. If you are lagging behind in this regard, you may have to have your webmaster check for inefficient code, bulky image files, excessive plugins or perhaps the server hosting your site is simply exhibiting subpar performance.
Regardless of whether you created your own website for your Bucks County business or used a web design company in the Philadelphia area, you should take steps to determine if this critical performance factor of an effective, highly converting website is in place. If it’s not, then here’s your wake up call to catch up with the rest of the world before you’re left behind with search results that yield little to no business.