Google has recently announced a few days ago the latest update to mobile search ranking algorithm, calling it ‘Speed Update’ that shall come into effect starting July 2018. Slow loading pages have long been a concern, and page speed already figures prominently in ranking signals for desktop searches. With this move, it seems Google is getting just as focused toward enhancing mobile experiences.
In the official blog update by Google, they have indicated that this update is not a booster for ranking if your site is fast, rather is going to downgrade slower sites for SERPs:
“People want to be able to find answers to their questions as fast as possible — studies show that people really care about the speed of a page. Although speed has been used in ranking for some time, that signal was focused on desktop searches. Today we’re announcing that starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches.
The ‘Speed Update,’ as we’re calling it, will only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries. It applies the same standard to all pages, regardless of the technology used to build the page. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.”
So what does it mean for website owners? The first good news is that webmasters have a few months to get their sites updated to ensure compliance with this. However, do keep in mind that the indexing will probably happen in this order: Mobile version > Desktop version > AMP, indicated by Maile Ohye here.
While there is no direct metric to confirm how this update will affect your site, you can try using PageSpeed Insights, Lighthouse Tools and Chrome User Experience Report for performance evaluation, as suggested by Google. Content is still going to be a higher ranked metric as compared to speed, considering Google is keen on letting slower pages show up if they have more relevant content.
Above all, if your website is functioning as it is supposed to be across content, code and linking, this update will mostly not make much of a difference unless the site is a super slow one. You will also not have any metric to assess when this update hits your site. Your best chance is to focus on better speeds, enhanced user agent-based experiences and increased relevance in content.