Google will penalize websites that load slowly on phones

People like fast-loading sites, Google says, so slow ones will have a harder time with prominence in search results.

Stephen Shankland principal writer
Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
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Stephen Shankland
Google headquarters in Mountain View, California

Google headquarters in Mountain View, California

Stephen Shankland/CNET

Want people with phones to find your website? Better make sure it loads fast, because otherwise Google will punish you in its search results.

Google long has given fast-loading web pages preferential placement in search results, but for now that only happens when people search on personal computers. Starting in July, particularly slow websites will be penalized in search results, Google said in a blog post Wednesday.

"People want to be able to find answers to their questions as fast as possible," Google search team members Zhiheng Wang and Doantam Phan said in the blog post. "Studies show that people really care about the speed of a page."

Speed isn't the only factor. Slow pages that are strongly related to what people search for can still rank high in search results.

Bringing the web to phones has been a challenge for website programmers. Phones have small touch screens, limited memory, pay-by-the-megabyte data plans and often anemic processors. The web and the browsers used to reach it are gradually adapting, but often we'll use apps, not web browsers, to reach the online services we're interested in.

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