Google algorithm update announced for July 2018 – does your dental website meet requirements?
The speed at which your website loads has always been important, but with the improvement in broadband speeds and the introduction of 4G mobile data, many web designers have forgotten this core principle and continue to publish sites which don’t meet accepted performance criteria – i.e. they load way too slowly other than on fast networks.
It’s now common to see websites which are image heavy and use “fancy” presentation techniques as designers race to incorporate the latest gimmicks in their designs. We’ve all seen these types of websites; large images scrolling everywhere, nifty transition and roll-over effects, parallax scrolling and more.
To be frank, we produce dentists websites like this too, as many clients are keen to incorporate all the “bells and whistles” in their new designs. However, you can easily go too far with this and form can easily override function if you are not careful. At this point, we have to draw a line and advise clients that there is a clear balance to be struck. Websites clearly have to look excellent but they also have to work well, and a large part of this is presenting a great user experience – even where connection speeds are slow.
Included high on the list when it comes to making websites easy to use, is the page loading speed. It’s fine to sit at a desk-top PC with a large screen and high-speed internet when your are loading websites, but this is actually now in the minority of website usage. More people are now searching for products and services on mobile devices and often don’t have the luxury of a super-fast broadband connection to facilitate this. Indeed there are still way more slow networks in the UK than fast ones.
Even where a website is designed to work on mobile devices, if it hasn’t been designed with fast loading time in mind, problems can soon arise. Sadly this is prevalent with lots of dental websites, even ones which are new. For the website owner, this is a big problem as I’ll illustrate below.
Google is a major advocate for a “high speed” web and pushes the issue very firmly. Up until recently, page load speeds were considered to be a fairly minor factor for ranking purposes, but no-one was really certain. It was always advocated as good practice, not just to promote a better user experience but also “in case” Google used it as part of its algorithm to rank websites in its search engine. However, quite recently, Google publicly announced that page load speed will definitely be a search ranking factor for mobile websites starting in July. Google very rarely announces changes like this publicly, so we can be fairly sure that it’s important and we are being given time to act. Hint – don’t ignore it! You can read more about the announcement here:
Testing your website
Google has also provided tools to help you ascertain how your website is performing. This one will give you a high-level overview of how your website is faring and will send a performance report to the email address you provide (if required):
There are other online tools you can use to validate results.
If the results are below average, you should seek guidance from your website designer. Indeed it also makes good sense to look for continuous improvement over time to get your site as fast as it can reasonably be. But the first priority, particularly for new websites, is to make sure your designer did a decent job to look after this important aspect of functionality.
Many website designs are significantly sub-standard when it comes to functional aspects like page loading time. This cannot be ignored and is very important to help promote a good user experience. We now also have Google publicly declaring that load speed will be a ranking factor from July of this year (2018); so two excellent reasons to check your dental website to make sure it’s meeting the latest requirements. If not, you should act.
If you’ve tried the page speed test above and have concerns about the results, the team at Dental Media will be pleased to help with an interpretation and recommendations to improve. You can reach us on 01332 672548 or via the website contact form.Google+