Google formally announced the coming change on January 17, on the Webmaster Central Blog. Calling it the “Speed Update,” the plan is to slowly roll out the new ranking factor starting in July 2018, which gives you plenty of time to optimize website and your web server.
Just so you know, desktop Google search has always considered page speed as a ranking factor, but only recently has Google announced, that page speed would be a ranking factor on mobile devices as well.
There’s no way to tell though, exactly what criteria Google is using; for example, it’s not like all pages that take more than three seconds to load are going to be affected. In fact, on the Webmaster Central Blog, Google encourages webmasters to “think broadly about how performance affects a user’s experience of their page and to consider a variety of user experience metrics,” rather than spending too much time thinking about speed alone.
According to Google, the update is only going to affect the slowest sites on the web, and is only going to come into play for a small percentage of queries. In other words, the new criteria is only designed to weed out slow sites, rather than rewarding fast sites.
Will You Be Affected?
While we don’t have an exact metric to work with, we do know that Google is insisting that only a handful of sites and queries will be affected. In fact, because relevance is still so important, a highly relevant piece of content can still achieve top rankings, even if it loads slower than average.
According to research though, from 2017, about 70 percent of sites take roughly 7 seconds to load on mobile devices. As a mobile device user, you likely know, intuitively, that 7 seconds is a long time. You reasonably expect your content to load within 2 or 3 seconds, and anything longer than that is frustrating.
Need more performance? Feel free to use Google’s own PageSpeed Insights tool to check the load times and speed of your individual web pages along with the famous PingDom Tools and that should give you a good place to start.