Google Updates Search to Boost Safe, Mobile-Friendly Sites

By the end of this month, Google will update its site with a new “page experience” designed to limit user frustration that results from slow-loading sites. Google will assess websites via three core web metrics, giving preference and higher placement to those that offer 1) secure connections, 2) lack of intrusive elements such as pop-ups and 3) are mobile-friendly. Publishers have expressed concern about this expected update, but some experts, such as RustyBrick chief executive Barry Schwartz, say the “overall impact” will be minimal.

The Wall Street Journal reports that, at Tel Aviv AI-based ad placement company Browsi Mobile, co-founder and chief executive Asaf Shamly said that the update is developers’ “top conversation of the month.” Schwartz added that, “if a page is super slow, but it’s the most relevant page to the search, it’s always going to trump” the websites that meets Google’s core metrics.

Still, some brands are doing everything they can to get top billing. At UK-based Organix Brands, digital and e-commerce marketing strategist Mona Nikzad said that she “wasn’t going to take any chances on this new update and risk being penalized.” The company’s SEO agency Blue Array recommended steps to improve the “page experience,” and Nikzad accepted them all.

But many publishers have focused “on advertising revenue … winding up with ads appearing on their sites over which they have little control.” Broke Backpacker’s business development manager Art Patterson realized “its performance was severely slowed down by ad units,” and hired StrategiQ Marketing to redesign the site.

That company made changes to “reduce loading times and prevent moving elements as pages load.” It also got rid of banner ads by “hosting the site’s fonts on its own server, rather than pulling them from Google’s font library.” The company plans to earn revenue via affiliate links and branded content rather than display advertising, with Patterson saying that, “we figured that the speed we would get would be worth the trade-off.”

TechRadar reports Browsi head Shamly noted that, “it’s very rare that Google releases such a huge update for user experience.” Regarding developer concern, “a recent SEO research suggested that a majority of the popular sites could suffer a drop in their rankings as they didn’t meet Google’s defined thresholds for the new criteria.”

Shamly dubbed Google’s update as a “wake-up call to publishers,” pointing out that “while e-commerce websites have focused on delivering a refined user experience to improve sales, content publishers usually rely on clunky online advertisements.”

With the update, he added, “focusing solely on overloading the users with ads will now have a detrimental impact on their search engine ranking, which will result in less traffic and a decrease in revenue.”