What does Google’s changes to mobile ranking mean for your website?

Speed is more important than ever!

Speed limits on French roads were just reduced from 90 to 80 km per hour. On the Internet though, speed is more important than ever.

In 2010, Google announced that loading times of web pages would be taken into account to determine search ranking. 7 years later, the picture is still not that clear.

Was the ranking of websites really affected? How much did they weigh quantity over quality? Did uninteresting but fast websites get better rankings than relevant, but slow ones?

Yet the idea is admirable: to give the best possible quality of experience by favoring websites that put in the effort of offering quality content as well as decent load-times.

But it is also in the best interest of Google’s impressive web indexing machine… things need to go fast. Google crawlers shouldn’t have to wait too long, or worse, get a timeout. In any case, the time they spend on your website is limited, and therefore it is also in your best interest to do anything you can to make Google’s visit to your website go well.

Today, Google does it again for mobile websites!

Google recently announced that loading speeds of web pages will be taken into account for the ranking of mobile websites as well.

If there’s one type of website that needs optimization, it’s mobile websites. Limited network resources, which fluctuate due to multiple factors, render the user experience unreliable. We need to optimize everything we can and Google’s effort to encourage optimization is commendable.

Google made tools available to help us assess the task at hand. PageSpeed Insights is worthy of mention because it is free, simple to use, and can help you to understand the implications and the severity of the problem by providing you with numerous “Optimization Suggestions”, although they are usually very common fixes with no clear performance improvements. Furthermore, in the context of continuous integration, accommodating this new Google specification requires to proactively monitor your mobile website.

The importance of QoE monitoring for mobile

Essentially, everyone is talking about the same things and the same methods: JavaScript optimization, process time, and buffer sizes control… as if they were the ultimate goal. But all of these are means to an end: to improve the Quality of Experience (QoE). QoE is the end-all be-all. That is why Witbe created a different approach based on controlling the quality actually being delivered through relevant measurements. The main idea is to directly correlate the optimization of a technical parameter (QoS improvement) with a tangible result that’s seen by the end-user (QoE improvement).

For mobile we are able to take into account the entire delivery chain and complexity of your service: this is where we diverge from most monitoring systems that don’t.

In addition to using Google’s and other tools, we believe it is necessary to proactively test the service from the edge to the core and answer these questions:

  • What is your website response time?
  • How does that time changes during a day? A week? A month?
  • Is your response time different depending on the device used (Android iOS?)
  • Is the connection smooth on every type of network (3G, 4G, WIFI…)? Does it depend on the mobile operators?

Then, with every optimization effort, it becomes easy to measure the real improvements, or lack thereof, of the service, and to control possible side effects. This allows you to make sure that your mobile website loading speed favorably affects your Google ranking and helps you secure the best QoE possible for your website.

If you’re interested in the subject of proactive monitoring for mobile website – as well as mobile app monitoring and test & validation – come visit Witbe at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, February 26th to march 1st, booth CS72.