Well, Google is coming out soon with the “Speed Update”, which they say is really only going to hurt the absolutely poorest performing sites, but we all knew speed matters anyway, and with a recent Searchmetrics study, we find that a 3 second load time is basically required these days to crack the top 15, and positions one to five are significantly faster still, with 32% loading in less than one second. Searchmetrics is one of the most reliable suppliers of ranking data in the industry and one of my top sources for information. I would take this seriously and if you are over the 3-second mark, start looking at ways to improve.
AMP as a Way to Get Faster
The study also dug into the presence of AMP in search results. AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages and has been created and pushed by Google as a way to speed up mobile loading times in an era when Google has begun ranking based on your mobile factors. The study found that AMP pages appeared on the first page in 61% of searches. It doesn’t mean AMP is the only way to get there. They point out that AMP itself is not necessarily a factor, just a potentially easy way to get fast. The highest correlation between speed and ranking came in the top 5 results, showing that the faster you are the higher you rank once you get to that threshold, but speed obviously matters throughout and clearly, the 3-second rule is what gets you in the conversation. As I have always stated, every search is its own competitive landscape, so if you are in a market that is not competitive, you can still rank with slower page speeds, but if you are slow, you better start looking at ways to get faster as soon as you can. AMP may be a way to do that, as there are fairly functional and somewhat quick to implement AMP plugins on WordPress. If you are serving ads or other complicated content, it may get tougher, but if your site is primarily text and images on pages, you can probably get it to work fairly easily.
Tools to Measure Your Page Speed
I have shared this before, but there are a number of tools out there to help you understand where you stand from a page speed perspective, and even give suggestions on how to fix issues. GTmetrix has a nice tool, as well as Google themselves. Take a look at your pages. Your analytics data will also share performance information over time for you. Take a look and always be thinking about how you can make your site faster. If you need help, we are here for you. The important thing is to pass the 3-second threshold and then try to move even faster. Google wants to provide searchers with a good user experience and waiting 5 seconds for the page to load simply isn’t a good user experience.