On July 9, 2018, Google began rolling out the latest change to the way Google ranks websites. Google named this update the “Speed Update”.
Over the years I’ve been asked many times about page speed and site speed and I’ve stated it here on this blog numerous times: While it’s true that having a snappy site can reduce people clicking off of a site, speeding up a site isn’t going to improve it’s rankings. Sites can indeed lose rankings if the website performs horribly slow.
Google confirmed this in their announcement and here are the takeaways:
- The “Speed Update” only negatively impacts very slow websites
- Making a page go faster will not magically increase your rankings
My advice in general is to build websites for users. You wouldn’t want to visit a website which looks terrible, is full of broken links or takes forever to load. This is common sense.
Here’s a quote from the Google announcement:
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.
How slow is too slow?
It’s tough to put a number on this. My favorite test is to pull out my phone, turn WiFi off and visit a page via 4G in a clean browser window. If the page irritates me, it’s too slow. Of course, there are a multitude of tests out there such as Yslow, GTMetrix, Lighthouse and PageSpeed Insights to test page speed. I like my most important pages to weigh in at under 1MB or at least be able to load in under 3 seconds. Of course, faster is better. While I do not know Google’s magic number here and it may vary based on a variety of factors I am going to take a shot in the dark and say that for most queries, if a page takes over 6-8 seconds to load you could be in trouble. If your page takes longer than 8 seconds to load you wouldn’t allow you to rank in your search engine, would you? Nope, not when there’s 100 other websites who do not have that kind of baggage.
Did you lose rankings in July 2018?
This is a positive change. If you feel that your website is negatively impacting your ability to rank well in Google’s search results, please feel free to email me and I’ll take a look at what you’ve got going on. I’ve worked with improving the speed for many websites from installing page caching all the way up to working with dedicated servers and CDNs.