Ask that question to most SEO practitioners and you’ll likely receive a resounding “YES!”. But the more detailed answer is far more surprising than you thought. Although mobile speed is clearly a must for any site hoping to enjoy good conversions and retention of users, there is little evidence to suggest it has an impact on mobile search rankings, yet!
Speed is key
Before continuing along this thread, it’s important to acknowledge just how important mobile speed can be for any site looking to increase conversions. Given that 40% of consumers will leave a page that takes three seconds or more to load, it’s more important than ever to optimise loading speeds.
Recent studies have also shown that 79% of shoppers are less likely to purchase from an online store if they’re unhappy with site performance. And the percentage of bounce increases by 32% when a page load time goes from 1 to 3 seconds – another damning verdict for those with a slow performing site.
But do these implications extend to SEO practices with the potential for dwindling ranking factors? The simple answer would be ‘yes’ as Google have already confirmed that speed has been a ranking factor since 2010. And this year sees the first time that Google are expected to use speed of mobile pages over desktop when ranking mobile sites.
That said, it’s still unclear as to whether this ranking factor have taken full effect. Those sites with the most organic searches would also have to be the fastest, right?!
But surprisingly. that doesn’t appear to be case. A recent analysis showed that 93% of the top 1000 sites with the most organic traffic were mobile friendly, but shockingly just 2% of these scored between 90 and 100 on Google’s mobile page speed test. What’s more, the average page speed score was 55 out of 100!
What do these results mean?
While that analysis uncovers some interesting results, it still doesn’t take away from the importance of mobile speed. Instead, this just shows that page speed on mobile is much lower a priority for ranking than say user rendition or content quality. It’s clearly a consideration but those sites with slower mobile speeds appear to be doing just fine. That would therefore confirm that mobile speed really isn’t important for SEO.
But before you halt any further activities to continually improve you site speed, stop and consider the bigger picture.
As Google have already suggested, much more emphasis will be placed on mobile speed for ranking over the following years. It would only make sense to optimise for these changes before they fully take hold. In the meantime, your audience will enjoy a better user experience which is only beneficial for conversions.
Whether it’s important for SEO or not at this point in time, those sites putting extra resources into improving scores on the mobile page speed test are likely to reap the rewards. Overlook this aspect of your mobile site at your own peril!