Early this year Google promised a new update that affect websites that “deliver the slowest experience to users”. Well, good to their word, the update was released this month with a primary focus to enhance the experiences by users in mobile searches.
The primary driver for Google to add this metric is the rate at which mobile searches have skyrocketed in less than three years. Mobile searches outshined desktop searches in 2015. Since then third-party commentators place mobile searches at well over sixty percent. With that concentration of Google searches via mobile devices, the company opted to reflect that increasing norm in its search index.
That said, Google announced that page speed will become a major ranking factor for mobile search results. However, what constitutes “page speed” is an important distinction … and not readily interpreted from those two words alone.
Page speed can be easily, and incorrectly, understood to mean a measurement of your website’s page load times. Not the case!
Google’s measurement is the result of a more sophisticated formula. Simply put the company measures the time it takes for a visitor to your website to click on your organic listing and then returns to google.com. Your ranking will be a function of how long visitors stay on your site based on what motivated them to click in the first place… a strong indicator of perceived relevance.
An example is in order. Let’s say that one hundred visitors to your site click on one of your links with ninety-nine returning to google.com within ten seconds, Google concludes that your website is not relevant and penalizes your page rank… that could mean getting bumped from your coveted page one placement! The reason is that in this scenario it’s pretty obvious that visitors did not find what they were looking for and hit the back button.
Now how does the factor of speed influence relevance? If your page loads in 20 seconds, it’s exceedingly likely that very few people will hang around that long before moving on. Conversely, if the user doesn’t return to google.com quickly, Google concludes that your website is among the most relevant for the particular keyword that prompted the click. Your reward … better page position, meaning elevating closer to the top of page one.
In our March 2018 newsletter, the topic was SEO STRATEGIES – ARE YOURS STATIC OR EVOLVING? Here’s a brief excerpt as it relates to speed in general.
How Long Do Your Visitors Hang Around Your Website?
Google monitors the time it takes a Google User to return to page one. If a Google User returns to Google quickly, then Google thinks they didn’t find what they were looking for and can penalize your website in the rankings.
So in general, traffic is typically deemed superior the more time spent on your website. Additionally, these visitors tend to be candidates that are more likely to convert than traffic from other sources. Tip: Pay attention to key metrics available from Google such as:
- Time on Site (spending more time than the average visitor)
- Pages per Visit (ideally, multiple page clicks)
- Bounce Rate (leaves after visiting one page)
Where Do You Stand?
OK, so given the new metrics you may well be wondering about your exposure and potential to suffer a “down-ranking” based on less than stellar mobile user experiences. Well here are three resources to help you determine your vulnerability, or more positively that you are not at risk.
As a Google Partner, we have access to the Google Page Speed team regarding our client’s accounts. Here’s their preferred tool to measure page speeds on different networks and devices and therefore recommend that you use it to measure your website. Click on the logo to access.
So there is now more change added to be aware of and react to so you prevail in your internet marketing. Hopefully, this article clarifies the latest Google Speed Update metrics and offers you a path to ensure you become and remain a superior player when it comes to mobile user searches.
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