Speed has always been a factor in defining both organic rankings and AdWords Quality Score. However, Google’s most recent change, which comes into effect in July, shifts this focus somewhat; speed will now be a key ranking factor in mobile searches.
For companies that already advertise to prospective customers on mobile devices, or who have organic search presence, there are numerous elements of their online presence that need to be checked, tested, and, where appropriate, changed. Knowing how to optimize your mobile site for speed will make all the difference to your search engine rankings.
The Importance of Testing Site Speed
The changes are going to make knowing the speed of a mobile site essential. Many tools permit site owners to determine their page speed to see whether enhancements are needed. Most of the tools that are available to test speeds are free and do not require administrator access to the website in question. That means that companies can check their competitors’ sites as well as their own.
Adjusting Mobile SEO Strategy for Google’s Speed Update
The benefit of Google announcing the change six-months before it comes into effect is that it gives companies time to undertake the necessary checks and make appropriate changes.
One such change that companies should consider is switching to Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). An AMP works by altering the source code of the website, thus directing the standard HTML page to a minimalist version of itself, the hosted AMP page. As AMPs are still so rare, they load exceptionally quickly. In initial Google testing, AMPs reduced load time up to 85%.
Local search should not be ignored, either. A Google Mobile Moments Study revealed that 40% of mobile searches have local intent. Companies also need to be aware that mobile search engine users enter queries differently than desktop search engine users; mobile queries tend to be much shorter.
Leveraging Search Console is a fantastic way to check in on a site’s usability. Using the following options under “Crawl Errors” can make a significant difference to usability:
- Smartphone tab – permits users to recognize any crawl errors that might be burdening their mobile pages
- Fetch on Google – allows users to see how crawlers view the site and adjust accordingly
- Mobile Usability report – tells users precisely which pages have mobile usability issues, as well as the nature of the issues.
How Will Google’s Speed Update Impact Your AdWords Account?
The Quality Score algorithm, the algorithm that determines how much users pay per click to serve an ad on the Search Network, is heavily influenced by landing page experience. If a company’s site does not load quickly and does not convey beneficial information, the company will either end up paying a premium or realize that they are unable to serve an ad at all.
The AdWords documentation recommends five ways to affect positive change regarding a site’s landing page experience:
- Include relevant, compelling content
- Be recognized as trustworthy
- Make navigation simple and effective
- Reduce load time
- Make the website faster
Failing to consider the new speed update will negatively affect a website’s ranking and, in turn, adversely impact the ROI of the business it showcases. AdWords users need to ensure they optimize for load time and landing page speed, and not just in terms of relevance. Companies should also contemplate making a move to AMP, ensure that their intent is on point, and make the most of the power of Search Console and page speed insights.