You can’t say it’s a surprise.
Website owners have been coerced into making improvements to sites on mobile for some time.
It seems like only yesterday (would you believe April 2015) that the first news of a mobile friendly ranking algorithm appeared. The so-called Mobilegeddon update didn’t turn out to be a geddon as such but it was the first signal of intent from Google and an acceptance that more people will be accessing websites on their mobiles in the future.
Stats such as those in the table below reveal this future has arrived, even though a comparison between mobile and desktop searches shows that desktop search was actually closing the gap in the autumn of this year only to see a significant move downwards in December.
Could these peaks and troughs be due to the greater proportion of people being away from their desktops during holiday season? It’s impossible to tell but Google is taking the rise of mobile search seriously to the point of putting ‘mobile first’. A phrase that has since become a buzzword we will hear plenty more of again this year.
So where does this leave you if you have a slow loading website on mobile?
You can take some crumbs of comfort that there are probably millions of other websites out there with the same problem. Even a quick look at some website agency websites (people who supposedly specialise in this stuff) reveals sites that are slow on mobile.
You could also breathe a sigh of relief that the speed update isn’t coming until summer 2018.
Before you do it isn’t that long until the summer and unless you have web development skills to hand, or you use one of the many hosted website building platforms out there, you may soon be left with a choice between either speeding up your website or do nothing and risk sliding into oblivion on Google searches.
Even if you do take a shortcut and use one of those simple drag and drop platforms the chart below might be an eye opener, displaying some of the more popular website platforms out there and their scores using Google’s own mobile testing tool.
What the above chart tells us is Duda leads the way for mobile speed well ahead of hosted WordPress and a little ahead of Wix but it doesn’t really tell us the full story.
In the real world, speed can be influenced as much by the choice of hosting and how well a website is put together and optimised. I have seen plenty of well-built Wordress websites score 98% for mobile speed but I have yet to see a drag and drop Wix website score anywhere near that high with some taking more than 20 seconds to load.
Other problems affecting speed include massive images, videos and even Google tracking code which can slow things down if it is put in the wrong place.
What Does Google Have to Say?
On their Webmaster Central Blog Google say that ‘want people to find answers as fast as possible’ and the ‘Speed Update’ will only impact on those sites that ‘deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries.’ really?
To a search giant a small percentage of queries could mean tens of thousands of websites getting hit with what amounts to a ranking penalty for being too slow. These changes are set to be rolled out in July 2018 so there is still plenty of time to prepare.
To check if your site is optimised to load well on a mobile phone, you can check it using this tool https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/.