Website speeds and the effect on organic rankings
In the world of Google, things are ever changing- and one of the latest changes is adding to the way the search engine prioritises and ranks results on their website.
SEO can seem complicated- and now Google are going to include Website Speed and Mobile-First Indexing into their Optimising system.
Our desire for online speed has been met by Google in their quest to make pages ‘appear’ much faster for us. Where we want efficiency and easiness, Google will be matching our wants by boosting faster pages up the search rankings- and lowering slower or longer-loading pages.
There is time for developers to improve their web speed: the update won’t take place until July 2018. However, this will be a world-wide change and so website owners should be wary that- if they’re not joining in- competitors across the globe might well be…
But don’t jump to panicking just yet! This does not mean that Google will down-play the rest of your SEO efforts. Slower sites that have high quality and relevant content will still rise above websites containing poor content.
What about the Mobile-First Indexing?
An impressive 55% of internet traffic comes from searches completed on mobile devices. In the past, Google ranked websites using Desktop information. However, after a study completed by Stone Temple Consulting, a clear shift showed the preferred method for searches is using mobile devices. Inevitably, the search engine now ranks sites according to Mobile traffic instead.
How will this affect my site?
It’s the question we all want answered- but- to keep things straightforward for the time being, webpages with matching content on both Desktop and Mobile will likely keep their SEO rating as is (unless they’re both slow.) However, if your Mobile site has less content available (and is of a poorer quality,) you might notice a negative turn for your rankings. The answer then, for the immediate time, is to invest in making your Mobile experience as excellent as it can be.
Google are being quite vague and saying that the rankings will switch once results are “quality neutral.” This means they will wait for websites to adapt before implementing drastic SEO structures. If they were to make the changes immediately, many people would be rather uncomfortable with the idea. However, by outlining that these changes will be made later in the year, you at least have the chance to optimise your mobile website and- quite literally- get up to speed!
How do I do this?
Firstly, ensure your content shows up on all devices. If you have a website, this will affect you and potentially where you are found on Google search engine, so you need to check how your website is functioning, especially on those mobile devices! Also, check out Google’s Webmaster Central Blog and bookmark it so you can read first-hand of any updates. If your business relies on good internet traffic, then read this article: https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2016/11/mobile-first-indexing.html
Do I panic… now?
Still, no. Google provide resources to help you get this sorted. They’re not expecting all web-owners to have a team of developers behind them to help keep them updated! Instead, they are making tools available for you to be able to track your progress. In terms of speed, we are all able to access their ‘Speed Scorecard,’ whereby you enter a domain, press the search button, and it will tell you the length of time it takes to load the home page. In fact, why not check yours out now? Use this link to reach the feature: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/feature/mobile/
Understanding the Speed Scorecard
Helpfully, Google provide an ‘Impact Calculator,’ included as part of the Speed Scorecard. Through this, you’re able to work out any financial losses as it compares your rankings to competitors. We all know that internet traffic equates to revenue, with more hits come more impressions; with more leads comes more sales! It really is time to make responsiveness and speed a priority at present!
How Does This Look?
Let’s say you host a news site and, for example, you produce a brilliant article about the Oscars. A rival site sees it and produces a really similar piece with the same number of keywords as yours. They post it to their website- but they have the speedier page- so they will rank higher up the search engine results than you!
What should you do about it?
Well, all you can do is keep updating and improving your site to maximise your own SEO rating- and meeting Google’s latest speed demands. Clear up the ‘clutter’ on your site, for starters. Concise content is best (cut lengthy pages of text) and reduce the number of high-res images you have, as these take a long time to load. Servers, hosting and other factors do play a part, too, but by making sure your mobile view is quick and clutter-free, will lead you in good stead!
WordPress is a dominant force when it comes to web-hosting, and Google have paired up with them- creating nothing short of an ‘Internet Super-Power!’ Over 28% of all global websites are WordPress hosted- and 50,000 more sites are added daily. Therefore, what Google want to achieve is help accelerate the development of WordPress, in somewhat of a win-win scenario for both parties.
WordPress has soared to its success and secured its large portion of the tech world. Despite this, its coding has not quite ‘caught up.’ Mix that amongst many security and performance updates, alongside users applying complex plugins and heavy content, individual website speeds plummet. This is totally not ideal when ‘53% of [internet] users abandon a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.’ Google, secure in the knowledge that they have the power to do something about it, are getting involved! Therefore, expect to see much quicker website loading times and increased functionality from a large proportion of the world’s web using WordPress. You can read more about this, here: https://www.fibremarketing.co.uk/google-teams-wordpress-speed-web/
Wonders for Your WordPress
Of course, this partnership creates somewhat of an elite status for WordPress. This basically guarantees them market-domination in future. In addition to the support and input from Google, it seems likely that websites hosted with WordPress will be prioritised when it comes to the search engine rankings. If you’re with WordPress- and you’re clued up when it comes to these SEO switches- then you’re in a very secure place to keep moving up the rankings, for many years to come!
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