July 9, 2018, Google has started using mobile page speed as a ranking in their mobile search results.
Google’s Zhiheng Wang and Doantam Phan wrote:
The “Speed Update,” as we’re calling it, will only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries. It applies the same standard to all pages, regardless of the technology used to build the page. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.
Improving your website’s speed is something that you should invest in regardless of the speed update or SEO. Google’s own data showcases that in comparison to a 1 second load time, 3 seconds load time increases bounce rates by 32% and 5 seconds load time increases it by 90%. The disturbing fact is that every bounce represents a potential customer your business lost.
Speed update will only affect the slowest pages
Surely, the update doesn’t provide any opportunity to improve the ranking of your page that is already well optimized for speed. Anyhow, it is wake up call for websites with poor load times and significant amounts of organic traffic.
How slow is too slow?
Even though the search giant has not yet given any specific metric with regards to the page speed but Google does say that it makes use of a a number of ways to measure page speed. Webmasters are suggested to analyse, study and infer metrics from the Chrome User Experience report, the Lighthouse tool and PageInsights tool.
Content is still the king
Reiterating the importance of content Google mentioned in their statement “The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content”. A useful insight that can be derived from the speed update is that great and relevant content is as important as the speed. A fast loading page with useless content may still not rank whereas a slow page with relevant content may still rank high. If you already have strong content, play it safe by enhancing your site speed incase it is lagging.
Google's algorithm is constantly changing and speed update is just one among the many changes to follow.