On July 9th last year, Google made page speed a major ranking factor for mobile searches as part of their “Speed Update”.
While page loading speeds have always had an impact on search engine rankings for desktop searches, the growing use of mobile devices to use Google and browse the web pushed Google to increase their relevance on desktop and introduce them as a ranking factor for mobile searches.
The Speed Update, which enables page speed in mobile search ranking📱, is now rolling out for all users!
More details on Webmaster Central 👉 https://t.co/fF40GJZik0
— Google Search Central (@googlesearchc) July 9, 2018
Fast and optimized mobile pages have always been a recommendation made by Google, however, they are now a requirement for webmasters who want to show up higher on search engine results pages. The faster your web pages load, the bigger your chances of ranking highly.
Which Sites Are Affected By this Update?
Not all mobile sites need to worry about this; Google’s “Speed Update” was brought about to compel the owners and webmasters of some of the slowest mobile sites to pick up their slack and sort it out. This means that if your website’s pages already load fast and in under three-to-five seconds, performing further optimizations to increase your speeds by a fraction of a second isn’t going to help you rank higher.
This focus from Google on mobile sites’ page loading speeds comes a lot later than expected, too. It is not as if mobile usage is an emerging trend.
There is no doubt that users like websites that are fast to load. After all, quick loading speeds mean a better user experience and a better user experience means you have a higher chance of making conversions. If your visitors have to wait long for a page to load, they will simply click away and look elsewhere.
Optimizing Web Pages for Better Loading Times
We recommend that you consult a web design agency to handle this for you.
If you have web pages that aren’t loading quite as fast as you want them to—anything above five seconds is going to cause a problem but, ideally, you want web pages to load within three seconds—and you want to have a go yourself, there are plenty of things you can.
1. Optimize your site images
If you have a website that has a lot of visual elements, these can cause page speeds to slow down if they are not optimized. The general rule of thumb is that all images on a page should be below 100kbs (kilobytes) in size because the larger an image’s file size is, the longer it will take to load.
Have a dig through your site’s images directory and look at the file sizes. If you have lots of high-quality images and graphics, these could be anything from a few hundred kilobytes in size to several megabytes. If you find anything above the 100kb mark, optimize them.
There are several ways you can do this—
- Install Apache PageSpeed as per Google’s advice;
- Use third-party apps such as Tinyjpg or ShortPixel; or
- Use a built-in library such as ImageMagick.
Lots of websites have image optimization problems and it is these that can cause the most harm to page load speeds.
2. Cache your web pages
Caching your site’s pages means that their loading requests are saved on your server and this drastically reduces loading times. By caching your web pages, you effectively eliminate the need for them and all their elements to be loaded afresh each time somebody visits them.
If you are using WordPress or a similar CMS, there are plenty of third-party plugins you can use to do this for you. SuperCache is a very popular choice.
3. Reduce your site’s source code
We aren’t saying you should go and start removing bits and pieces from your site’s source code. Rather, we are saying that you go through these files and remove things such as empty elements, white space, and unnecessary comments. Doing this will decrease your page’s size thus speeding up its load time as there are fewer lines of code for Google’s crawlers and visitors’ browsers to comb through.
There are tools you can use online that will do this for you if you aren’t comfortable doing it yourself. For WordPress users, Autoptimize is a great option whereas others such as Will Peavy minifier also get the job done. This is also something an
4. Reduce the number of redirects on your web pages
Sometimes it is necessary to redirect web pages on your site to another one. Sometimes, however, they are not so necessary. Each time a redirect is initiated, it triggers an extra HTTP request and adds an additional delay to the final web page’s load time.
An example of this might be redirecting a mobile user to your mobile site (even still, you should ideally have a mobile-optimized version of your site instead of redirecting to a purpose-built mobile site on your domain)—
- Your visitor visits yoursite.com
- They are then redirected to m.yoursite.com
- Finally, they are redirected to the page, m.yoursite.com/services
These two additional (and unnecessary) redirects mean that your page will load slower.
Go through all your site’s redirects and only keep the ones that are necessary from a technical point of view.
5. Use browser caching
It is not just through your server where web pages can be cached, they can be cached in your visitors’ browsers. Caching works by saving information (images, CSS, etc.) temporarily so that when a visitor comes back to your website, their browser doesn’t have to reload the entire page from scratch.
Google has lots of information on the subject of browser caching.
Slow Web Pages Can’t Be Ignored
Until recently, it was the case that mobile sites’ page speeds weren’t accounted for much at all by Google’s algorithms when ranking a site. Last summer, that all changed.
Today, if your mobile site’s pages aren’t loading quickly then you are not going to be ranking very highly on search engine results pages or SERPs. We recommend outsourcing your on-page optimization to the best and reliable web designers for the best results.