How To Tackle Google’s Mobile Speed Update

By Emma Moody, 8th April 2018

Online business is booming. In 2017, Ofcom reported that 76% of adults owned a smartphone, making smartphones the most widely owned internet accessible device. Consequently, it is not surprising that the number of mobile searches now exceeds those made on desktop. We’re in a changing world. Our smartphones have become a part of everyday life and the online world is having to adjust… and fast.

I’m sure that nobody will be shocked to hear that Google’s influence on the online world is vast and far reaching. With Google leading the mobile first initiative, encouraging secure and responsive browsing, as well as providing local search with results geared towards mobile users. In the new year, Google revealed their next step towards fulfilling their mobile first goal. In July this year we will see mobile site speed become its own official influencer in the Google algorithm.

So how will the speed update affect you?

Well, in short, it means that having a fast website on desktop is no longer enough. Your speedy desktop load time can no longer balance out a shoddy or patched up mobile performance.

The good news is that Google hasn’t thrown us into the creek without a paddle. Google provide all of the tools that you will need to assess your mobile speed performance and provide clear direction on how to fix it. The majority of reputable webmasters will have seen this update coming. In fact, Google even told us it was coming back in 2016.

As such, if you’ve got a relatively new website, don’t panic. Chances are that your web agency prepared your site for this update without you even knowing. At Plug & Play, we recommend checking and maintaining mobile speed regularly to keep on top of any new opportunities and to prevent the website from slowing over time.

Don’t Let Your Speed Slow You Down

The majority of speed updates will require some input from a developer. However, there are a handful of things that you can do dev-free to increase the speed of your website. You have until July to implement these changes so why not set some time aside over the coming weeks to stay at the front of the pack?

1) Know Your Speed

The first step to improving is to understand where you are. Head to Google Insights to test out your speed. This will be broken down by desktop and mobile and each will be ranked on a scale of 1-100. This tool also provides a guide on how you can improve your speed. For example, are large images slowing your load speed or is your server a bit sluggish?

Website speed can be a funny thing to measure and you’ll often find that different speed tests provide different results. To get the best data, clear your cache and go incognito to carry out the test.

2) Compress Your Images

The temptation to upload large files to your website is real. They look great and it saves time messing around resizing and compressing. Unless you’re a photoshop wizard, what feels like it should be a simple task can become a bit of a mountain. However, these large images and videos are sneaky culprits for slowing your website down. Once your site has launched, it is easy to forget to keep on top of image optimisation. Why not take a look at your media library now? Try to keep all images under 250KB and remember that many sites are built with different media options for mobile and desktop to help ensure that the image positioning and copy space is in the right place. Don’t forget to check both!

3) Downsize

It’s not just file size that affects site load time, it’s also the actual image dimensions. Smaller images load faster after all. On desktop a 1000x1000px image may be fine but on mobile you’ll only make use of 300x300px of it because of the smaller screen size. Where you can, try to use a 300x300px image on mobile and only show the larger images to desktop users.

4) Pinpointing The Problem

Google Analytics can be a lifesaver when it comes to finding out what is slowing down your site.

Head to Behaviour > Site Speed to learn about your average speed stats. Don’t forget to click ‘Add Segment’ and then select ‘Mobile Traffic’ to specifically focus on your mobile speed.
You can then pinpoint the sneaky pages that are dragging down your average load speed.

5) Banish The Ads

External adverts are often heavy on data usage and unfortunately you have no control over this. Keep your site slick by saying no to advertising.


If you’re interested in learning more about the update or would like some help maximising your site speed, contact Plug & Play today.