How to prepare for Google’s Mobile Search Index

As we edge ever closer to the rollout of the speed update to Google’s algorithm, alongside the anticipated mobile first index launch; it’s crucial to understand why Google gives mobile such importance, and what we need to focus on improving.

The commercial bit

Over the years there have been many studies developed by Google to understand the user’s relationship with mobile. One of the most popular research pieces by Google uncovered that 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than three seconds to load. Building on this even more,  Google has recently gone one step further than just understanding consumer attitudes, they’ve honed in on understanding the impact on the bottom-line.

It was recently announced that a one-second delay in page load speed on a retail site could impact conversions by up to 20%. Google has even developed a tool to calculate the revenue impact of improving your page speed. When you think about that at scale – it’s a pretty significant commercial opportunity.

Yes, we know it’s important… but what can we do?

Although there are many metrics that can be optimised for mobile across usability and accessibility,  ultimately the focus at the moment from Google is loud and clear – speed is king.

What are we talking about when it comes to speed?

Well, the crucial metric is your speed index, which is the average time at which visible parts of the page are displayed, expressed in milliseconds (the lower the better, of course).

In essence, this is the time it takes for the page’s primary content to appear on screen:

Filmstrip of Google search results page loading 

What is important here, is staggering the loading of elements seamlessly to give a higher perceived user awareness of the loading time. Google measures these by:

  • First load signal: This is communicated to the user that the site is reachable (such as the search bar in the second strip)
  • First meaningful paint: The time at which the user has visibility on the biggest above-the-fold layout change (primary content is visible)
  • First interactive: This is the time at which the page has minimal interactivity
  • Consistently interactive: This is the time the page is fully interactive for the user which results in the first impression complete

So what does this mean?

Google has kindly pre-warned SEOs about the upcoming changes to the algorithm and index. Because of this, we can expect them to have a significant impact on sites that aren’t already addressing their mobile friendliness and site speed.

If your site is still in need of some mobile TLC – reach out to our team of SEO experts, who can help ensure your site is ready for a big year of mobile updates.

by Laura Green
30 April 2018



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