Google Pagespeed algorithm update hits hard in eCommerce ranks

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At the end of July 2018, Google rolled out a Pagespeed algorithm update and turned it into an important ranking factor in mobile searches. This update caused major drops in organic results for many eCommerce sites. Let’s see why!

The updated Pagespeed algorithm prizes fast, mobile-optimized sites. So far, this has been treated as a recommendation for mobile sites, but after July’s update, Google turned page speed into a fully-fledged ranking factor in mobile search results.

Download: State of mobile-first eCommerce

Why has the Pagespeed algorithm update impacted eCommerce?

Although it is great news for mobile users, the eCommerce industry is finding it difficult as the majority of global online stores is not ready for the mobile-first revolution pushed by Google. According to State of mobile-first eCommerce, the average performance score is only 35.66/100. For the same group of 11,000 online stores worldwide, the accessibility score reaches just 58.34/100.

Test your eCommerce’s page speed with the Lighthouse test.
Learn more about the Lighthouse tool for eCommerce.

Online stores were hit hard by Google’s update of the Pagespeed algorithm, due to a lack of technical adjustment to mobile devices. It is visible in the poor SEO results achieved by many eCommerce sites. Companies have observed major drops in organic results, from page 1 to page 3 (and lower), due to Google Medic update. Also the CPC costs, which reach up to 25% and more (now you would have to pay € 1.25 instead of € 1 for Google Ads), mostly because of lower Google Pagespeed mobile scores.

“Due to a change in the Google Pagespeed algorithm for mobile devices, we see that a lot of Magento 2 based shops upon the default theme are affected in terms of having a really low score in Google Pages speed for mobile devices.” – Wouter Dieters, SupportDesk

Similar results occur in Magento 1, Shopware, WooCommerce and other eCommerce platforms. Clearly, online stores have to improve loading and interaction times for all their mobile touchpoints or they will keep losing rank positions, traffic and revenue.

Obviously, the faster the better.

Adjusting to the mobile-first revolution

Companies and agencies are running tests in search of a viable solution to solve this problem head-on. This can bring good results in the short-term, but eCommerce must change its approach and start building mobile-first solutions to fit the ongoing revolution.

“When we analyze performance, we need to look at it from two dimensions: (1) Googlebot-oriented performance – here you need to analyze if your server can deal with intensive crawling by Googlebot. Keep in mind that if Googlebot notices that your website significantly slows down, it just stop crawling; and (2) user-oriented performance – this should be focused on improving how the pages are being rendered on a user’s device and if they can smoothly interact with the website.

Both of these dimensions may affect your SEO efforts, so make sure that your server responds quickly and that users don’t suffer from unnecessary delays while on the website.” – Maria Cieślak, Head of SEO, Onely

The answer lies in solutions designed with the mobile-first approach in mind. Progressive Web Apps are one of the most significant. This new technology is aligned with Google’s mobile-first indexing, speeds up loading times and improves search results. It also enables a bunch of mobile-friendly features (home screen icon, offline mode, push notifications) to boost mobile users engagement.

PWAs go along with Google Speed Index. Online stores which have implemented PWA technology will keep high search ranks – without the extra costs of CPC campaigns. Adding a PWA will positively affect organic traffic, and lead to higher mobile conversions and thus revenue in eCommerce.

Learn more about PWA technology.

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Published December 11, 2018