Google is prioritizing fast websites with an update to its search algorithm for mobile users today.
The change is designed to speed up the web on mobile. Moving forward, websites that load quickly will get a bump in Google’s search rankings. However, the company maintains that this will only affect a small number of searches.
Furthermore, some feared that the change would prioritize websites that use Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) technology. Instead, the company is applying the same standard to all pages, AMP or otherwise. Additionally, slower pages with ‘great content’ may still rank highly.
AMP webpages are essentially lighter versions of webpages that can load really quickly. AMP also uses a cache of stored data to load pages before people open them, making for lightning fast page loads. Google says most AMP pages load in under a second. AMP is part of a big push from the search giant to speed up the web.
However, a fast web isn’t just about AMP. AMP was a sort of proof of concept from Google, a “hey, this is possible.”
AMP was a test to make the whole web fast
The Verge reported in March that Google’s AMP was a response to things like Facebook’s Instant Articles and Apple News. These services were created to improve the web offering a different platform for online content. For supporters of a free and open web, proprietary services like Instant Articles went against that.
Web creators had to make things multiple times if they wanted it to work across the web and proprietary services. So Google made AMP to ‘fix’ the web and prove that a fast experience like the proprietary services could still be had on the web.
Most importantly, out of AMP came a lot of learning for the search giant. The search giant wants to use that knowledge to bring the benefits of AMP to every webpage.
Ranking fast websites higher in search results is a part of that. Not only does it encourage developers to build sites that are fast, but it highlights those already doing it. Higher rankings also means more traffic, which can be a huge incentive for web creators to make fast websites.
For web creators and developers who want to build fast sites, Google offers a number of tools to help. Metrics from the Chrome User Experience Report, Lighthouse and PageSpeed Insights can help developers optimize sites to load quickly.
The ‘Speed Update’ for Google’s search goes live today.