It’s no secret that mobile use has risen drastically over the past few years. With iPhones and Androids becoming faster, easier to use, and in everyone’s hands, the necessity of mobile optimization for websites is unavoidable.
It is because of these trends that Google is implementing the Google Speed Update in July. The update will affect the search index and ranking factor in relation to mobile site speed. In response to the increase of users viewing websites and pages on their mobile devices rather than desktops, Google has updated their algorithms to reflect this in their ranking systems.
Site speed for mobile is extremely important because, typically, when the load time increases to 3 seconds or slower, the probability of a bounce rate increases by 90%. To avoid high bounce rates, and now lower potential rankings, there are action items that can be implemented to accommodate for Google’s newest update.
In the simplest terms, the Google Speed Update increases the importance of mobile speed. Content remains the most important factor, however, speed will also now be a strong influence. Load times can be negatively affected due to hosting, caching, site errors, images, and more. Improving this factors will help your site rank higher and receive a higher quality score.
Below are a few steps to begin to think about how to optimize a mobile website site speed.
In order to make improvements, you must understand how your site performs right now. Set a benchmark of site load speeds so that you can track progress. Google has no minimum benchmark for reference.
Consider a benchmarking platform, Google Site Speed or GTmetrix, that can be used to track success along the way. Both tools will give you a full analysis and breakdown of your current site load times.
Using Chrome Developer Tools, by Google, you can mimic 3G connection to most accurately replicate speeds on a mobile device. While most users in the US use 4G LTE or Wi-Fi, 3G remains the most popular signal worldwide.
AMP (Accelerate Mobile Pages) improves page performance by redirecting HTML to skeleton versions of the page to increase load times by 15-85%. This pairs with Google and it is the fastest results to load. AMP works as a WordPress plugin for easy integration.
Change Up the Content on Mobile
This sounds simple, if you have 4 columns on desktop, make it one column of 4 rows on mobile, right? Not quite, while this may enhance the user experience, it will not have an impact on speed. To increase speed on mobile you can detect the viewer’s device on a server level and offer alternate content (smaller images etc.) to mobile users. This is possible through plugins or using an m.subdomain for mobile pages.
Most importantly, optimize your images. Reduce pixels and compress images, remove unnecessary images, and use text or icons when possible on mobile.
WP Plugins and Caching
Use other WordPress plugins to enhance mobile speed. Take note that too many plugins will have negative consequences by overloading your site so sites should only be using 1 cache plugin at a time, however, it’s best to try out at least 2-3 to see which one gives you the best results/scores in your benchmarking platform.
WP Rocket – WP Rocket is a caching plugin that has far and away the best results but they come or a price of $39.
WP Fastest Cache – This is the highest rated free cache plugin.
WP Super Cache – WP Super Cache generates simple HTML files from WordPress pages to deliver faster results.
40% of mobile use has local intent. This means “near me” type searches when users are on the go and want to find relevant content. That being said, if your website can be localized to better serve its users, it should. In order to perform higher with this, make sure Local SEO and directories such as Google My Business are set up and running for your business.