How Google's 'speed update' will affect mobile search


Google is trying to speed up mobile searches.
Google is trying to speed up mobile searches.

Image: Adam Berry/Getty Images

Google searches on your phone are about to get an important upgrade.

The company announced an upcoming “speed update” to search, which will put some slower loading pages lower down in search results on mobile devices.

Google says it expects the speed update, set to take effect in July, will only affect “a small percentage of queries,” but given the number of Google searches that happen on a daily basis, it could have a significant impact on search.

Under the change, Google will take page speeds into account in determining its rankings for mobile searches. The company has previously used speed as a factor on desktop, but this will mark the first time Google has done so on mobile.

While not a surprising move considering that the bulk of Google searches come from mobile devices, the change has some interesting implications in the long run.

Though Google says the change will only affect a small number of searches, it could incentivize more sites to adopt the company’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), stripped-down versions of web pages that load very quickly.  

That’s not to say that AMP pages will automatically be given priority. Google notes that the change only looks at the speed of a particular page, “regardless of the technology used to build the page,” and the company told Search Engine Land that AMP pages could still be ranked lower if they load slowly. 

But considering that AMP tends to be significantly faster than the traditional mobile web, the speed update would certainly seem to give an edge to sites that use the technology.

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