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Google’s Speed Update Changed Next to Nothing

Recently, Google rolled out a new update to its algorithm that ranks websites in the results page. This new update purportedly added weight to the mobile upload speed of a webpage, threatening to bury slow websites in the rankings when a search is done on a mobile device.

Online marketing experts, however, have seen very little change to the rankings before and after the Speed Update went into effect. While this could mean that the update was only a very slight tweak, it could also mean that websites, companies, and law firms that take online marketing seriously were well prepared for the highly-publicized change.

Google's speed update changed very little in the SEO world

Google’s Speed Update

We blogged about Google’s Speed Update, before. The gist of the update was simple: Google searchers hate slow websites, and could frown on the search engine for providing them. Therefore, to nudge websites into a faster response time and give its own customers a better experience online, Google loudly threatened to penalize those that loaded especially slowly in mobile searches by the end of July.

Very Little Change in Rankings After Update

Since the Speed Update was implemented, though, there has been very little movement in the rankings.

A study done by Link Assistant found that “there has hardly been any impact on search results a week after the Page Speed Update” rolled out. Moreover, the study was not a small one: It analyzed the top 30 rankings for 33,500 search queries, creating a data set of more than a million webpages.

Lots of Change in Upload Speed

The study did, however, find lots of change in the overall speed of the surveyed sites, particularly in the last three months – approximately the amount of time that Google spent alerting webmasters of the upcoming algorithmic change. That uptick is a strong signal that website owners took the initiative and tweaked their domains to get extra speed and avoid Google’s wrath.

Some Takeaways on the Speed Update and Its Results

There are a host of insights that the results of Google’s Speed Update provide.

Google Controls the Internet

The repercussions of the Speed Update highlight to what extent Google controls the internet. By simply threatening to penalize slow websites, the search engine giant played a significant role in making the internet a faster place.

The Update Likely Only Targeted Extremely Slow Sites

The almost complete lack of change in the results pages across the spectrum, though, suggests that Google’s Speed Update only targeted websites that were extremely slow. Even poorly-performing sites seemed to have cleared the hurdles of the recent Update.

That’s not to say that the next speed-oriented update won’t up the ante a bit, though.

The Ever-Increasing Focus on Mobile Search

Again, the Speed Update only looked at a website’s upload time for Google searches coming from mobile devices, and only altered the rankings for mobile searches. The time dedicated to this update, therefore, showcases the high priority that Google has for the mobile market.

For law firms, though, this mobile-centric world has less importance. Potential clients looking up attorneys to hire or researching legal problems are much more likely to be using desktops—the complexity of the project and the high level of expense likely tilt a potential client’s preference towards a sit-down environment rather than a mobile one. Therefore, as we’ve urged in the past, mobile friendliness should be a lesser focus for law firms intent on getting the most bang for their buck in online marketing: Make your firm’s website mobile friendly, but don’t go overboard on the project.