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Google speed update to impact search rankings

A Google update that takes page load times into account in mobile search rankings is set to take effect this week.

Websites that have slow page loading on mobile devices may begin to rank lower in Google’s search results, although factors such as the relevancy of their content will still be taken into account.

Google announced the update on its Webmaster Central Blog in January, noting: “People want to be able to find answers to their questions as fast as possible — studies show that people really care about the speed of a page.”

The search engine giant started implementing the update in March and will finalise it this week.

Digital marketing expert Jim Stewart said businesses have limited time to get their websites ready.

“It’s all about user experience. You’ve got a week to go through and check your mobile site – make sure it’s as fast as possible – because this is a speed update.

“If your site’s slow and you don’t have a strong brand, your business will not rank on mobile. Businesses must keep in mind that Australia has third world internet and be prepared for that. Remember that 75 per cent of mobile users are still on 3G networks,” he said.

Stewart noted that the stronger a business’s brand is, the more resilient to these sorts of changes it will be.

“It is important to remember that brand starts from the first time your homepage loads, through to delivery of the product and then any follow up that may occur.

“If you’ve got the brand strength – meaning a lot of people are looking for you – you’re more relevant to Google. But for everyone else, you must work to prepare for the change and make sure your mobile site is as fast as possible,” Stewart said.

Mobile-first indexing means that Google will use the mobile version of a website page for indexing and ranking in light of its – primarily mobile – users.

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