The history of Google speed ranking algorithm changes

The first major speed related algorithm change happened in 2018

Google's ranking algorithm has continuously changed since its inception as Google strive to give searchers the best possible results, many changes are small and go unnoticed by the web and SEO communities. Since 2002 Google has been explicit with major algorithm changes and here we detail the algorithm updates focused on page speed.

June 2021 - Core Web Vitals Update

In May 2020 Google announced the new 'Core Web Vitals' metrics. Designed to measure loading speed, inactivity and visual stability. Together with mobile-friendliness, security, safety, and the lack of pop-ups, these new signals will be used to assess overall page experience and to cast a final vote in deciding whether a page is worth ranking.

Great page experience doesn't override having great page content. However, in cases where there are many pages that may be similar in relevance, page experience can be much more important for visibility in Search.

Many SEO specialists and webmasters started optimizing for the Core Web Vitals early after they were announced. As Google states, these metrics are key performance metrics for user experience, so optimizing for Core Web Vitals can have a positive impact on many important KPIs, outside of any potential ranking benefit when the algorithm update is applied.

Here at SERP Fast, we'll be keeping a close eye on the CWV algorithm update and future updates Google makes. You can check your Core Web Vitals and compare with competitors using our speed comparison tool.

Google have stated they intend to update the page experience signals on an annual basis.

July 2018 - Mobile Speed Update

The first major mobile speed related algorithm was officially announced as in January 2018 and it went live in July 2018.

Acknowledging that page speed was key to mobile users, Google applied speed as a ranking factor for mobile pages.

The change mainly affected sites with a particularly slow mobile version.

April 2010 - Unnamed Desktop Speed Update

Since around 2010 Google has used page speed as a ranking factor - officially announced in April 2010.

Though this focused on desktop page speed. It was only in 2016 that mobile traffic official surpassed desktop traffic.

When this algorithm update was released it was said to only effect fewer than 1% of search queries.

You may have heard that here at Google we're obsessed with speed, in our products and on the web.
Category: Web Vitals
Nick McBurney - Founder of
Author: Nick McBurney

Founder of and Lead Frontend Developer with a passion for site speed.