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article imageGoogle Search to start favouring faster mobile sites in July

By James Walker     Jan 18, 2018 in Technology
Google has announced a major change to the way it organises search results. Mobile rankings will now consider loading time as a signal. Faster pages will be prioritised over slower ones in a move intended to push developers to build quicker sites.
In a blog post this week, Google said website creators should "think broadly" about the performance of their pages. Creating faster sites improves the user experience and makes it less likely that a visitor will switch away. This is particularly important on mobile devices where connection speed and quality is regularly an issue.
Some developers and Google critics are likely to be sceptical of the changes. However, Google said its intention is to act on the behalf of users. It added that the altered ranking will only be noticeable on pages that currently deliver the "slowest experience." All pages will be assessed for loading speed equally.
As with other Google search signals, speed will still just be one element used to determine overall ranking. Google said websites should aim firstly to create high-quality content that appeals to users. A page filled with information relevant to the user's search will still rank highly, even if it is relatively slow to load.
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"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," Google explained. "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."
The update follows previous Google moves to improve the quality of search results for mobile users. Between 2014 and 2016, the company labelled sites as "mobile-friendly," positioning well-designed pages above ones without a dedicated mobile view. This practice was stopped after almost 85 percent of sites became mobile-friendly and the results view started to be cluttered with the tag.
Google's also promoting broader projects to move the performance of websites forward. Its controversial AMP technology helps publishers to create fast-loading mobile content that's provided from Google servers. Recently Google announced changes to AMP designed to further improve the experience, including the removal of its longwinded and unpopular AMP URLs. Starting from later this year, AMP should begin to display the publisher's original URL in supported browsers.
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