google speed update 2018

How To Prepare for the “Speed Update”

In July, Google launches its Speed Update, which was announced in early 2018. This update puts more pressure on webmasters to deliver fast page-load speeds to users on mobile devices.

The following is an introduction to the key aspects of the Speed Update, along with insights to help you prepare for it.

What Is the Speed Update

Google has included load speed in its search algorithm on desktop searches for several years. As mobile devices are now used for the majority of queries, the company is adding this factor to mobile.

Rather than enhancing search engine rankings for fast-loading pages, the update will negatively affect pages that have very slow load times for users. It will affect a small percentage of queries. Google’s goals are to optimize mobile results, continue a shift towards a faster world wide web and create the best user experience.

How to Evaluate Your Site’s Performance

Your first step in contemplating the impact of the Speed Update on your site is to evaluate its current performance. Test your user experience with the Chrome User Experience Report. This report uses real metrics that are available across the web.

The Google Lighthouse and PageSpeed Insights tools are also useful in assessing your site’s current page-speed performance. Ahead of the Speed Update, Google has created a new look for its report. You can measure optimization levels and page-speed time on both desktop and mobile. The Chrome User Experience report is incorporated into it as well.

What If My Pages Are in the “Danger Zone”?

If your page load times and performance results are strong, your site is in good shape. If you find that you are in the “danger zone,” there are a number of steps to take to boost results. Remember that Google has said the Speed Update only affects the slowest URLs. However, without concrete metrics, it is better to be safe if you have concerns about your site and pages.

Sites with very low scores on the aforementioned tests could be affected. Begin your optimization process with your highest-priority URLs. These include your home page, first-tier linked pages and critical product-landing pages. More specifically, address the URLs that generate the most organic traffic and organic revenue.

After you run the speed tests, reports are generated that offer custom tips for improvement based on your pages’ results. Use these to make necessary changes or to research strategies for implementation.

The following are some common strategies that contribute to efficient page-load times:

  • Optimize images
  • Enable compression
  • Reduce server response time
  • Leverage browser caching
  • Eliminate render-blocking JavaScript & CSS in above-the-fold content
  • Consider AMP for key URLs

Be Over-Prepared

If this is the first time you have heard of the Speed Update or contemplated its effects, there is still time to make some necessary adjustments. Take action soon, though, as the Speed Update goes into effect in July. Consider working with an expert agency like Elite SEM to ensure success in preparing for this crucial search update!

Considering AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) to boost your site speed? Read our case study to learn more about how they helped a non-profit’s organic search visibility.

Sara Leaf
About the Author

Sara Leaf

Sara joined the Elite SEM Atlanta office as one of the founding team members of the SEO division. She is Google Analytics certified and along with her accounts, also manages content creation and production for the division. Sara is an avid college football fan (go Dawgs) and a self-diagnosed television addict.

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