"starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches."
So how does this affect Mobile Search Engine Optimisation?
Well... Firstly don't panic. Website speed is already a ranking signal for desktop search and following yesterday's announcement this signal will now come into effect for mobile sites in July.
So even though Google is almost certainly tracking page speed already, it will not have an effect in the SERPs until later this year, so you do have 6 months to make changes to your site.
How does this affect AMP?
The Accelerated Mobile Pages Project (AMP) is an open-source initiative to improve the performance of web content on mobile devices. They are useful lightweight versions of your web pages that are hosted elsewhere (not on your own website) for speed, which in-turn improves their changes of being downloaded and read. However there is no direct link (yet) between Google's mobile organic rankings and AMP, plus there is no organic site penalty for not having it.
But even though the two things are separate, they can work together to get more website traffic and therefore conversions. This is because AMP can have their content displayed in a carousel at the top of the Search Engine Results SERPs. And therefore, even without PPC AdWords appearing, both AMP and organic search ranking of pages can push your content to the top of the search results in your mobile browser.
Note: We are also seeing the content/layout and even the appearance of this carousel change in the SERPS over time and location, so its display there should not be guaranteed.
What can I do about it?
Therefore we recommend to all clients and the wider online community that:
- Site owners minimise all page weight wherever possible (e.g. reduce the use of scrips and keep images to the lowest size possible - one client website has a strict policy that no image must be greater than 200k)
- AMP is considered a technology on websites that have content that does not dynamically change all the time (e.g. it is not advisable for eCommerce or fast-moving information sites).
- If you are in doubt... ask your SEO consultant.