Google Mobile Search to Demote Slow-Loading Pages

Heads up, webmasters: Google on Wednesday announced plans to start taking page speed into account when ranking mobile search results.

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The Web giant has used speed as a ranking factor for a while now, but only on desktop searches. Starting this July, slow-loading pages will also be demoted in 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," Google's Zhiheng Wang and Doantam Phan wrote in a blog post. They added that "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."

Unfortunately, there's no tool that can tell you whether your page will be affected by this new ranking factor, but Wang and Phan suggested some resources that can help webmasters make sure this change doesn't hurt their Google search rankings. Start by checking out the Chrome User Experience Report, which offers user experience metrics for popular websites. The duo also suggested webpage performance auditing tools Lighthouse and PageSpeed Insights.

"We encourage developers to think broadly about how performance affects a user's experience of their page and to consider a variety of user experience metrics," Wang and Phan wrote.

The impending Speed Update comes after Google in 2015 changed up its algorithm to give preference to mobile-friendly sites for smartphone or tablet queries. That change, dubbed "Mobilegeddon" at the time, caused websites not optimized for variously sized mobile devices to be demoted.

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