Search Engine Land reported that Google “hopes to add mobile-specific page speed as a factor and not rely on the desktop version” when it updates its mobile-friendly algorithm.
Site speed has been a ranking factor since 2010, but Google still depends on page speed results from the desktop version of your site for both mobile and non-mobile rankings. This has always struck me as odd, since Google’s tool for measuring website performance provides results for both the desktop and mobile version of your site.
(For those who don’t know, Google has separate algorithms for its desktop (non-mobile) and mobile search results. To answer your follow-up question: no, Google does not consider tablets to be mobile devices.)
It’s no secret that Google’s primary focus for the past 5+ years has been mobile usability. Google does not crawl Flash websites since Flash isn’t compatible with most smartphones. It forced webmasters to adopt responsive design (or mobile-optimized pages, like m. sites) via “Mobilegeddon” to improve site readability on phones.
Since Google still dominates the search industry, these actions have undoubtedly increased mobile internet usage. It’s estimated that nearly 40% of all web pages will be served on mobile devices in 2016; Google’s mobile-first policies are a big reason why. These same policies enacted by Ask or AOL (which combine for less than 0.5% of the search market) wouldn’t make a dent in mobile web traffic. Same for Bing and Yahoo! (#2 and #3 in search market share, respectively). It took a powerhouse like Google to change how webmasters build websites.