Will the Google Speed Update Affect Your Website or AdWords Account?

Google recently announced big changes to its mobile ranking factors and while speed has always played a part in rankings and quality scores, beginning in July, it will become a major ranking factor for mobile searches.

Written by Phil 1 February 2018

What I'm about to explain is super important, simply because mobile web browsing has surpassed desktop browsing in popularity since 2016. That means you need to be optimising and advertising on mobile right now, or you’re already missing out on a huge amount of traffic.

You need to meet your potential customers on their terms. Shying away from mobile is not the way to go. 

It doesn’t matter how large or small your business is, local or global, Business to Consumer or Business to Business, you need to get on board with mobile and load speed.

Google Speed Update – What Is It?

As you may know, the page speed of your website, meaning how fast your website loads in the browser, has been an important ranking factor for Google since way back in 2009. 

But that was on desktop, not mobile, and from July 2018, page speed will also be an important ranking factor on mobile search too. 

We’ve been told for years to make sure our website loads quickly so our visitors are not waiting. We all get annoyed when a website fails to load properly or loads slowly.

Most people react by clicking away and searching for alternative sites, which means you’re going to lose your visitor. 

However, we have to keep this in context. 

If you have an image heavy webpage that takes time to load, it can still rank depending on relevance. 

If it’s very relevant to the search term, but loads very slowly, Google will take that into account, but basically, just make sure your pages load as fast as possible!

You still need to take steps to ensure you are doing your best to ramp up your load speed.

Testing Your Page Speed

It’s really easy to test, so you have no excuse to not do it.

You can use one of the many online tools, including Google’s own TestMySite, to determine accurately where you can improve your mobile page load times. 

Also try the free page speed test tools such as GTMetrix, which doesn’t need admin access, so you can also test your competitors site, to see how you compare.

Improving Your Page Speed

Don’t use the excuse that you have 6 months before Google put this fully into action to put it off. You need to start now, as you’ll have much more time to really learn, apply and test.

And once you’ve optimised everything so your site is a speed demon, you’ll need to check regularly. All kinds of factors can affect your results, so you must keep on top of this.

Here are a couple of things you can do to get your site ready:

Switch to AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)

An Accelerated Mobile Page has changes to the source code, which mean rather than sending your visitors to your standard HTML page, it sends them instead to a stripped-down version of itself, known as an AMP page.

AMP’s load really fast, between 15% and 85% faster than standard pages, as they’re built purely for speed.

Keep in mind that there are other things you can do and you will lose a little control over your webpages, but this is fast and simple.

Optimise for Local Search

A Google Mobile Moments Study revealed that 40% of mobile searches have local intent, which is very exciting if you have a local business.

More and more people are searching for the businesses and services they need in their local area, via their mobile, and if your business is local, you need to capitalise on it.

If your site isn’t optimised for speed you are going to lose many of these local searches, as people want fast results to their queries.

They may be minutes from your bricks and mortar business, but, if your page keeps them waiting, they’ll go somewhere else.

Use local keywords and phrases, such as ‘Hairdresser near Nottingham train station’, ‘Nottingham city centre accountants’, as these are the kinds of searches people use to find local businesses.

Use Search Console

Using the Search Console is a great way to check your site’s usability: 

  • Smartphone: See crawl errors which could negatively affect your mobile pages
  • Fetch on Google: See how the search engines view your site and adjust accordingly
  • Mobile Usability: See exactly which pages have mobile usability issues, and the nature of the problems

It can give you a real idea of how well-optimized your pages are, show a diagnosis of any likely problems and give you ways you can improve your website.

What About Your AdWords Account?

According to Google, the Speed Update “will only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries.” 

As you are sending your AdWords traffic straight to a landing page, you may think you don’t have to worry about your website quality score, but that’s not true.

It’s not just your ad which determines your quality score, it’s your landing page too, and your quality score determines how much you pay per click

If your website loads slowly and doesn’t have useful info for your niche on it, you’ll pay far more for your ads than if it’s the opposite.

Here are a few tips to help you get it right:

Ensure fast load times: Use AMP (explained above) to ensure your pages load quickly on all devices.

Use your main keywords on your landing page: Always feature the keywords you’re bidding on, on your landing page. Also, send visitors to a landing page based on the visitors intent, dictated by your ad. So if you’re offering a free report, send them straight to the page where they can sign up for it. 

Use simple navigation: Don’t confuse visitors with complex menu systems, as if you confuse them, you’ll lose them. 

Build trust: Try any social proof you have including testimonials, case studies, good reviews, along with qualifications, memberships, certificates etc.

None of this is difficult to do, but put in a little effort and it will have a big effect on your results. Get started now and you’ll have your website and landing pages ready for the changes in July 2018.

Don’t think you can avoid or circumvent this, you simply can’t. You need to play ball as Google has all the power, not you. Work with them and it will pay off in your business success, sales and profits.

The simple way to targeted leads . . . 

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