Google is about to make load times a lot more important when it comes to mobile search. If you’re a blogger or website owner, this is something you NEED to pay attention to and plan for. Starting in July 2018, Google is pushing a new update to their mobile search results algorithm. The algorithm is what determines who gets ranked where based on a search query. Things it considers include site structure, keywords, time spent, inbound and outbound links and many other factors. The new update will put an increased emphasis on load times for mobile searches. Fittingly, it’s being called their “Speed Update”.
Now, it’s important to note that while the Speed Update is only targeting mobile traffic, page speed does matter overall. In fact, there’s a significant and direct correlation between your traffic and total views. We’ll get into that later, but first, let’s start with the important questions…
How Fast Does Your Website Load?
Let’s start with the most important question and determine just how fast (or how slow) your blog loads. With this question answered you’ll be able to determine if you need major improvements or if you can ride out the Speed Update storm. Websites that can help you determine your page speed include:
- Google PageSpeed – The best place to start is with Google themselves. They’ll give you the most direct feedback, as well as split it up from Mobile to Desktop.
- Pingdom – Start with your blog URL, and pick the test that is CLOSEST to where you live. The results will provide you with a performance grade, total load time, and also provide insight. Those insights will make understanding how to fix them much easier.
- GTMetrix – Another good place to check out your page speed. The tool provides the clearest feedback of the bunch.
We recommend running tests on ALL THREE platforms, make one change and then retesting. It will help you determine if your change resulted in improvement or not.
What Plugins Help?
There are a ton of different plugins out there that fix (or improve upon) common speed problems. Finding which one works best for you may depend on your host, your theme, and other factors. So try them all and see which one works best. You should aim for your website to load in 2 seconds.
- WP Fastest Cache (what we currently use).
- W3 Total Cache
- WP Super Cache
Does Speed Really Matter to Audiences?
If Google cares about it, that’s designed to benefit search – but do audiences care? Well, Pingdom decided to take a look at the data. They compared loading speeds with bounce rates. Bounce rates are a measurement of how a person views (and then leaves) your website. If one person clicks to view a piece of content but then closes the window after reading – that is a 100% bounce rate. If a second person clicks to view a piece of content, then decides to read ONE more post? That’s a 50% bounce rate. It becomes a collective number based on all readers.
When we bring page load speeds into the mix, there’s a direct correlation between how much it impacts bounce rate. A target load speed of 2 seconds results in a 6% contribution to bounce rate. Very small all things considered. But every time the page load increases by a second, the likelihood of them leaving your website immediately increases. At 7-seconds, it’s 53% of the reason for them to leave after reading your content. So, if you’re not working to increase your speeds – now there’s even more incentive.