I’ve discussed load times on mobile sites before, but I don’t think I’ve adequately highlighted the impact it can have on SEO. Then again, it’s not a topic that requires all that much explaining.
SEO is largely determined by how much time people spend on your site, how deep they venture into it, and how often they return. Sites that fail to load in a timely manner tend to not keep people around for very long, much less bring them back. So when your mobile site is slow-loading, your mobile SEO rank tends to suffer.
So is that all you need to know? Not exactly. No doubt you were already aware of the fact that quick load times = good user experience. But that doesn’t necessarily tell you much about how to fix slow load times, how to determine their impact on SEO, or how to know when fast is fast enough.
I’m not going to try to give a comprehensive answer to all of these questions in this post. I just want to emphasize that there are readymade solutions for amplifying the speed of your mobile site, but also that there may be tradeoffs to consider.
Your web developer should be aware of an open-source HTML framework known as Accelerated Mobile Pages. If provides a simple means of stripping away high-performance elements of your pages when they are being visited on mobile devices. In theory, this is all you need to increase the site’s performance on lower-speed mobile networks.
Ideally, this will bolster your existing SEO strategy. But in reality, these things don’t always work out as they’re intended. When web design companies implement these types of changes, they and their clients need to keep watch over how the site is displayed, to make sure that AMP is not removing elements that are otherwise vital to user experience.
That’s where the trade-offs come in. Quick load times are definitely important. But even on mobile networks with data caps, there are times when users want to be able to engage with higher-performance site elements. Mobile SEO can occasionally suffer as a result of situations in which users expect a mobile site experience that is more akin to a desktop version.
And if AMP does strip away desirable elements, then it may actually end up worsening other complications that can emerge from accelerating your site’s mobile performance. In most cases, AMP is well worth the added effort. But web designers to have to keep in mind that it’s practically a separate site, with separate analytics, lesser ad support, and a slight potential to cut into the original site’s SEO, if both are not carefully managed.