This is Sort-of a Big Deal.

February 5th, 2018

As you know Google has been giving ranking preference to mobile friendly websites for quite a while. Since that was announced a couple years ago, we have been urging clients to get your site mobile friendly. Most have followed that advice and as a result are performing well in Google searches. Now Google has announced that page speed ranking signal(s) will be applied to mobile versions of websites this summer. 

Many modern websites have ‘loooong’ scrolling home pages with lots of images and other elements. We have never thought that is a good idea, because it overloads users with information instead of encouraging them to use logical and clear navigation. Others have rotating images that tend to be large and slow down page load considerably.  This has been a long-used feature on many and perhaps most websites for many years.  In both cases they are slower to load, and starting this summer, all of those images and other elements may negatively affect the ranking for your website. 

Here’s the crazy thing - Whether we think it is right or not, Google actually measures speed based on 3G network speed (As in last decade mobile speed). They say most of the world is still 3G and therefore base their testing on that. We think that is crazy, but they are Google, and we want to perform well in their environment.

So what does this mean for your website?

First, if your website is still not mobile ready, this is the second strike and we should talk. (BTW, the third strike will be when browsers begin to disable support for older websites built using older standards. That day is coming for sure.)

Second, don't panic. Google says only the slowest sites will be negatively affected which means the effect on ranking is relative. So if every other website in your category is slower than yours after the ranking change, you may not see much effect from the change. 

Third, it is widely acknowledged that Google is unreasonable in many things they recommend. For example, on 3G loads in about 9 seconds which they call 'poor.' But on LTE which almost all of the US uses, the load time is less than 2 seconds, and we are happy about that. Finding the balance between the design and function of your website and the speed is important. We can help you evaluate and find that balance. (BTW, Google doesn't even 'ace' its own speed test.)

We are recommending a wait and see attitude for most websites. However, for sites that are image heavy, like having a lot of images rotating on the home page, or have long pages with many images, we recommend a review meeting.

We hope the information we provide is helpful. We want to be helpful to you however we can. Our commitment remains to help our clients look good, rank well and be fruitful in your online efforts.