Why Mobile and Page Speed Matters in SEO
If you happen to follow the SEO industry for a while, you’re sure to have come across some industry study/report that shows how much search share mobile has over desktop devices, and how mobile is the future in SEO. It doesn’t matter what the percentages are, the change is real. The mobile has already outnumbered desktop searches, and it’s nowhere close to slowing down. The future is already here.
It matters all the more for local businesses, because nearly half of all Google searches are from people looking for local information, and most of those searches are happening on hand-held devices.
We’d hate to throw numbers at you, but one piece of data is extremely relevant here: 61% of mobile searchers are more likely to make contact with a local business (SEO leads that are close to converting, in other words) if it has a mobile-friendly website. Source: Hubspot
So, what makes a website “mobile-first”?
Unlike desktops, mobile devices are versatile – in screen sizes, processing powers, internet speed, hardware, etc. With all the variants in the market, the process of making a website “mobile-first” involves doing technical optimizations on different areas.
Google has always been actively promoting page load speed optimization as part of its SEO guidelines. When the company rolled out the “Speed Update” in 2018, it officially sealed page load speed as a ranking factor in its search algorithm.
Google provides webmasters with plenty of help in optimizing for page speed, including online testing tools such as Web.dev, Test My Site and, the browser plugin built right into the Google Chrome browser, LightHouse. All these tools analyze the given website for page load speed issues, and give a summary of scores as to how the website is performing along with detailed suggestions on how to fix those issues.
It is indeed a painstaking process to have your page rendered properly in all the hundreds of different types of mobile devices in the market, particularly when you’re on a shoestring budget for your website development maintenance, but it’s absolutely worthwhile when you factor SEO in.
In fact, if you run your website by one of the online testing tools mentioned above, you’ll see there are one or more suggestions related to mobile responsiveness listed as well – such as “clickable elements too close together”, “text too small to read”, “viewport not set”, etc.
Optimize Resources for Mobile
The most common resources that call for optimization for mobile are the images that you use in the website. You won’t need to show a 4K image in full resolution when serving your page on a mobile device, since it won’t make any difference. Scale images according to the device the page is being served on, and you’ll see by how much your page load speed increases.
Google rolled out the Accelerated Mobile Pages project for improving page load speed of the result pages it shows in mobile searches. When webmasters make their website AMP-compatible, Google takes over and shows improved mobile versions of the page if the page itself is lacking in some of the mobile-friendly aspects.
The beauty of AMP is that if your pages are already mobile-friendly, the AMP versions of the pages will canonically point to your original pages, and will take over when some of the pages suffer from mobile-responsiveness/speed issues.
All your customers are on mobile, and they’re looking for you on mobile. You might as well serve them there, and fast.
- Jul 16, 2020