Google's speed update is here - Are you ready for it?

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Get up to speed
By Rachel Lobley, contributor. 17 July, 2018
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As of July 9th, Google’s ‘speed update’ has been rolled out across the globe. But what is it and what does it mean for finance marketers?

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So, what is Google’s speed update?

Well, Google first announced its speed update back in January and it’s all about improving mobile user experience.

Let’s face it, when users ask Google a question, the priority is to get accurate information as quickly as possible.

Page speed has always been a factor in determining search rankings on desktop, but this update means that page speed will now affect search rankings on mobile too.

With 48% of buyers beginning their search journey on their smartphone and page load time directly linked to bounce rate, the latest speed update is not to be ignored.

OK, so it’s a race to the top of the search rankings?

Not necessarily. Google has stated that its speed update will only penalise the very slowest sites ‘and will only affect a small percentage of queries’ – see more from a Google spokesperson on this issue here.

If your site is already mobile-optimised and moving at a good pace, you’re unlikely to be penalised, but if your site is slow to load on mobile, sit up and take notice as this update is likely to see you falling down the search rankings.

Remember that in addition to site speed, relevant content will still play an important part in where you rank, so don’t let concerns over site speed compromise how well you optimise your content for search.

If your site is already mobile-optimised and moving at a good pace, you’re unlikely to be penalised, but if your site is slow to load on mobile, sit up and take notice.

How can I test my page speed?

Google isn’t releasing an official tool to indicate whether or not your page will be affected by the new updates, but it has pointed to a number of tools that might help.

Ask your developer to check out the Chrome User Experience Report, Lighthouse and PageSpeed Insights.

What should I do next?

If your site is slow on mobile, it’s time to take action. There are simple steps your developer can take to improve performance including optimising images and browser caching. For more information, use the above tools and see Alexandra Anghel’s article here.

Even if your mobile page speed is good, it’s a fair assumption that Google is cracking down on factors that limit user experience. As well as highlighting the importance of page speed, use this update as a trigger to assess how user-friendly and search engine optimised your mobile site is.

There are some great tips out there, such as this mobile SEO guide from Yoast. Speak to your developer about implementing an ongoing program of optimisation to make sure you stay ahead of the game.

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Image: 20th Century Fox

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A specialist in marketing strategy, Rachel has worked on consultancy, content and PR projects for a number of international finance and insurance brands out of London. Now in Australia, Rachel enjoys producing strategic content for the Aussie market and getting to know her new surroundings. When not at work, she's out enjoying restaurants and attempting to do some exercise.