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Will Google’s new mobile speed ranking harm your business?

Think back to the last time you were on public transport, waiting in a line, walking through a mall, or even out socialising with friends.Chances are if you looked around, there would be a depressing number of eyes glued to mobile phones.

We’re so attached to our smartphones these days they’re practically an extension of the body. Booking a restaurant, shoe shopping, finding an emergency plumber, booking flights, accommodation, doctors – you name it, we use our mobiles to do it.

It’s no surprise then that Google, being the ever-considerate digital dictator it is, has decided to start ranking websites based on mobile search speed.As attention spans shorten and mobile technology accelerates, staying competitive on mobile devices is fast becoming a matter of business life or death.

The Speed Update

Announced in January this year, Google’s upcoming ‘Speed Update’ is designed to enhance their existing focus on user experience, and will target sites and pages with slow loading speeds for mobile as of July 2018.

The intent is to ensure users have the smoothest, and fastest possible response rate to search queries, going from question to solution as quickly as possible while on the go – and is best understood in relation tothe user-centric performance model RAIL.

What is RAIL?

RAIL is a model used to break down and rate the user experience into key actions. The acronym stands for Response, Animation, Idle and Load. These four key actions relate to different factors that create the experience a visitor has when they are using your website.

For example, while your site might visually scale to mobile well, if your pages and menus are slow to react when a user selects them your Response rate is slow.

If there is a lag between when a user swipes their screen, and when your site frame actually scrolls, your Animationis slow.

Each component of RAIL combines to deliver a framework that website developers and designers can use to ensure their sites are built to deliver a great user experience when it comes to speed.

What does this mean for my business

While there is no doubt the new Speed Update will cause some issues for slow loading sites, the good news is search intent is still a high priority. This means that if a webpage has content that is highly relevant and valuable to a particular search term, then it still may appear high in search results despite it’s slow speed. But does this mean you can get away with a slow performer?

No. While you may still be preferred in to specific searches, your wider visibility will be limited.

More importantly, if you’re already having issues, this Speed Update should serve as a major warning.

As consumers increasingly swap to mobile devices from desktops, it becomes more and more important your website not only translates to mobile, but is completely optimised for mobile.

Many forward thinking businesses are now designing their sites with mobile as the primary function, and desktop as the secondary function, and that’s if they haven’t already pumped money into app development. So, what can you do to safeguard?

Get testing and talking

Talk to your web developer and/or designer and get them to run some performance tests. While there is no one tool that can be used to detect if a page will be affected, there are some excellent tools available for developers to test user performance metrics including Lighthouse, PageSpeed Insights and Chrome User Experience Report.

Don’t have a developer? Bite the bullet and talk to digital experts now to get a head of the game and start leveraging the latest SEO, we guarantee finding the right people now to help adapt your site to mobile will be well worth the investment.

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