A new year is upon us, so it shouldn't surprise any seasoned digital marketer (who as been paying attention, anyway) that Google is already actively rolling out a series of brand new algorithm changes. In addition to a more combative stance against "fake news" and a stronger prominence of voice search, the search engine giant recently announced that it will release a "Speed Update" as well. Before anyone rolls their eyes at me, I'll be the first to admit: it isn't a secret or new concept that page speed impacts a page's placement in the search engines. Nothing turns off a potential customer like a slow website and Google has been factoring load time into its algorithm since 2010. Since then, their focus has been primarily limited to "desktop searches" only. Set to release in July, 2018, the new page speed update will finally take that effort up a notch by also focusing on mobile and tablet devices as well. Google maintains that only the websites that "deliver the slowest experience to users" will be effected by the algorithm change.
According to Google's Zhiheng Wang and Doantam Phan: “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.” Fortunately, because the page speed update doesn't go into effect until this summer, webmasters have plenty of time to take the necessary steps to prepare their websites accordingly. (Google recommends using LightHouse and their updated Page Speed Report to do this.) It isn't uncommon to talk with business owners who truly do not understand the importance of mobile optimization or ranking factors that truly impacts their brands overall reach and ROI. Our response is always the same: time is running out, folks. And now, Google has confirmed it -- website load time is about to really matter and in a big way and webmasters better pay attention. Given how dramatically search has diversified thanks to mobile and tablet use, this algorithm update has been a long time coming -- and if we had to bet, voice search is on deck with AI in the batters box. Want to make sure your website is ready for all of Google's algorithm changes to come in 2018? Contact us today for a complimentary consultation and we'll help create a marketing roadmap for your brand to use as a guide in the year to come.
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