Yesterday Google announced their Speed Scorecard, a tool for website owners to measure the impact of their site speed on their earnings and revenues. This is aimed…
Chances are you’d not have waited for this page to load had it taken a second or two longer.
That’s the truth – users expect web pages to load pretty much as soon as they click on a hyperlink.
Slow loading web pages can become the leading cause of high bounce rates, low user engagement, lost traffic opportunities, and abandoned sales journeys. Here are some numbers to put things in perspective.
What’s more, ecommerce websites associate fast loading with increased revenue, and the reverse is also true.
The calling is clear: your websites need to load super quickly to sustain and nurture audience attention, avoid high bounce rate, and prevent abandoned sales.
If you have a WordPress site, there are a number of easy and effective methods you can begin using today that will significantly increase your site’s loading speed.
It’s surprising how many websites still continue to use nested tables, in spite of the negative impact they have on page loading speeds. Here’s what a nested table code looks like:
Such coding adds additional burden on the browser, delaying complete loading of the content. Instead, use non-nested table structure as follows:
More importantly, use floats and grids to enhance loading speed. Here is a basic float example:
<h1>Basic float example</h1>
<img src="https://www.examplesite.com/files/image.jpg" alt="image anchor text">
<p> Sample text </p>
<p> Sample text </p>
A web page consists of several components – stylesheets, Flash components, images, scripts, and more. To deliver content rich experiences, you need to opt for entire PageSpeed Insights Optimization process.
More the number of elements per page, more the number of HTTP requests made for each of these, resulting in longer page loading time durations, which could hurt your conversions. Yahoo estimates that almost 80% of page loading time is accounted for the time spent in downloading the different elements of the page.
Use the HTTP requests checker tool to find out how many requests your page makes.
Luckily, you can reduce HTTP requests without ruining your web design. Here’s how:
Your most popular content posts could also be the ones loading the slowest, because of the hundreds of comments on the page. You can’t block comments, because they are conversation starters and link builders for you.
How do you manage, then? WordPress offers a very smart solution – break the comment stream into pages.
In the Dashboard, go to Settings. Under the section Other comment settings, you can tweak the settings for how many comments appear on a page, and which page is displayed beneath the article.
Upgrading your website every time a new PHP version is launched can be a bit of a headache. But it’s worth your time and effort. The same scripts could run almost 25-30% faster on newer PHP versions; imagine the kind of website loading time improvements it can bring for you.
PHPClasses published an extensive experimental study, which highlighted that scripts ran significantly faster on PHP 7.1 as compared to previous versions.
If you use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool for a quick analysis of your web pages, it’s likely you will find advice to use Gzip compression. This compression enables web servers to compress heavy website content elements.
The compression is so effective that it could reduce your page size to 30-40% of its initial size. Dolloped speeds, because of this, could increase to three or four times their previous speed.
For many webmasters, installing a Gzip compression plugin continues to be the best option. W3 Total Cache plugin, apart from all its amazing features, also offers HTTP compression.
Other options are:
Chances are you run at least some form of pop-up to optimize conversions. As beneficial as these might be for your website’s monetization strategies, they may also be causing significant damage in terms of higher page loading times.
To take control and strike the perfect balance, you need to know the third-party scripts running on your website, their source, and their impact.
I recommend Pingdom’s Website Speed Test for a thorough analysis of each file and script from a webpage. The tool will tell you which script takes the most time to load.
Gauge the effectiveness of your pop-ups; do away with non-performing pop-up plugins, as they’re only slowing down your page. OptinMonster is one of the most reliable pop-up plugins, helping you optimize conversions without killing speed.
Caching plugins can be a blessing for your website; these plugins create static copies of your webpage content, and instead of making to and fro queries to the database, use the static versions to immediately showcase the web content to users. Since you ordinarily won’t update your web pages daily, caching proves to be very useful for almost all web pages, always.
Among the many caching plugins you can use, WOT Cache Plugin enjoys a lot of trust and popularity. Among its many features are:
It makes sense to move to a dedicated hosting plan, so that your website gets all the resources it needs to load in a jiffy, always. Ask your web host as to what help it can provide you to improve your website speed.
Most web hosts are willing to offer their technical expertise to help you pluck the low hanging fruits in terms of your website’s speed issues. This, in turn, benefits them, as the load on their servers reduces.
Particularly, ask for their advice on optimizing mobile website speed, because the impact of slow loading is much severe on mobile devices.
Every few milliseconds of improvement in your web page’s loading speed could bring tens of percentage point of improvements in its traffic and conversion rates.
Start with these easy and practical tips, most of which will result in almost immediate improvements in page loading speed for your website.
Yesterday, Google announced a major upcoming change to its mobile ranking algorithm.
In a short blog post entitled ‘Using page speed in mobile search ranking’, it explained that starting in July 2018, page speed will officially be a ranking factor for mobile searches.
The catchily-named “Speed Update” (a feat of inventive naming on a par with “Assistant”) is set to only affect “pages that deliver the slowest experience to users” and, in Google’s words, will only impact a “small percentage of queries”.
However, given that Google processes around 3.5 billion search queries per day (per Internet Live Stats), a “small percentage” can still amount to a lot of websites.
So for any website owners and SEOs who might be concerned about how this affects them, let’s examine what we know about the update so far, and what it means for mobile SEO.
Google has used page speed as a ranking factor on desktop since April 2010, but although having a fast mobile site has always stood companies in good stead for ranking well in search, it hasn’t been an official ranking factor in Google’s algorithm until now.
However, this announcement is far from coming out of left field. As far back as June 2016, Google webmaster trends analyst Gary Illyes confirmed that the next mobile algorithm update from Google would use page speed as a ranking factor.
Google has also frequently emphasized the importance of speed in mobile user experience in its advice to webmasters, and Google initiatives like Accelerated Mobile Pages and Progressive Web Apps have aimed to furnish site owners with the tools to make their websites fast and streamlined on mobile.
The “Speed Update” announcement doesn’t give all that much new information about how website owners should improve their sites in order to rank well on Google, but here’s what we do know:
As highlighted earlier, the language used by Google in its blog post indicates that the search engine is looking at not just speed, but overall mobile user experience with this update.
Google went so far as to spell this out in a Q&A with Search Engine Land, saying that, “The intent of the signal is to improve the user experience on search.”
In other words, site owners who want to score highly here need to pay attention to more than just page load time. This is underscored by Google’s recommendation of the Chrome User Experience Report as a tool to evaluate webpage performance in light of the update.
A lot of improvements to mobile page speed also improve the wider user experience on mobile – for example, videos and audio set to autoplay are annoying and inaccessible to users, and also slow the page down by loading unnecessary content – meaning that site owners can kill two birds with one stone.
Other steps that site owners can take to improve mobile UX include disabling annoying full-page pop-ups and interstitials (which Google is liable to penalize anyway) and implementing a slimmed-down, task-based design that allows users to quickly navigate to the functionality they need.
Above all, a mobile website should enable users to efficiently accomplish what they came there to do, without being bogged down by unnecessary bells and whistles. If you achieve this, you should be able to stay on the right side of the Speed Update algorithm both in terms of page performance and in terms of mobile experience.
Here are some more guides we’ve published that will help you get to grips with mobile SEO, site speed and UX ahead of the July update:
In Google’s world, site speed matters. And the search giant is pushing hard on AMP, its open source initiative to improve web page speed and performance for mobile users. But that speed comes at a cost for digital marketers. AMP eliminates scripts — including the scripts that help you track…
Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
The HTTP/2 protocol was published in 2015 with the aim of creating a faster, more secure Internet. Adoption has been gradual and is ongoing, but there are clear benefits for marketers who make the upgrade. So what exactly is HTTP/2 and how does it affect SEO?
The variety and quantities of information transferred on the Internet have changed dramatically in the past decade. Content formats are larger and more complex, mobile usage has increased significantly, and there is a growing global population of Internet users on a daily basis.
It is within this ever-changing landscape that a group of developers built SPDY (pronounced ‘speedy’, aptly enough), to build on the syntax of the original Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP).
As the name suggests, SPDY was developed with the core aim of finding faster ways to transport content on the Internet that would reduce page load speeds. SPDY was primarily developed by a group of Google engineers and it provided the platform for HTTP/2, towards which Google has now shifted its support.
HTTP/2, with the aid of some of those SPDY developers at Google, is an initiative driven by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to build a more robust platform for the Internet that is in keeping with the needs of modern users. It was published in May 2015 with the aim of refreshing the HTTP protocol, which has not seen any real radical overhauls since HTTP 1.1.
Most Internet browsers support HTTP/2, as do a growing number of servers, but according to W3Tech, only 13.7% of the world’s top 10 million sites have moved to this standard, as of May 2017.
That number is on the rise, however, and marketers should be aware of the implications of this significant upgrade.
HTTP/2 is built on top of the same syntax as HTTP 1.1, so it serves more as a refresh than a complete overhaul. That is quite a purposeful decision, as the onus is on making this a smooth transition that brings benefits for Internet browsers, servers, and end-users.
At a conceptual level, this means that HTTP/2 reduces load times by improving the efficiency of communications between browsers and servers.
Rather than a sequence of exchanges between the server side and the client side, one connection can host multiple exchanges at once and, quite importantly, the server side can proactively make responses without waiting to be called.
Site owners can compress some of these resources to increase load speeds, but we require a fundamental change in browser-server communications to resolve these issues in the long term.
That’s exactly where HTTP/2 comes in.
On a practical level, these interactions between browsers and servers start to look as follows:
This simplified example serves an illustrative purpose, as we can see clearly how effective the HTTP/2 approach would be at a grander scale.
It does this by both making and receiving multiple calls simultaneously through one connection, rather than making them one at a time.
Given the stated importance of making the Internet faster for users, we can quite readily make comparisons to see how effective HTTP/2 is.
A HTTP Watch study compared different versions of the same page, in particular drawing a comparison between standard HTTPS and HTTP/2.
This waterfall chart shows the difference from a technical standpoint, and also the assumed benefits for a user.
The page loads 22% faster, providing a significant improvement to the end-user’s experience.
The comparison was made on quite a simple page, so the benefits can be extrapolated out to a wider data set containing more complex assets.
As with so many website improvements nowadays, the SEO impact will be felt indirectly. Google does not factor HTTP/2 readiness into its algorithms, but it does reward sites that provide a slick user experience. That includes page load speed, so it is fair to say that moving to HTTP/2 will have a positive effect on a site’s SEO performance.
Mobile has been the focal point of efforts to increase speed recently and undoubtedly, mobile performance will be improved by the shift to HTTP/2.
Nonetheless, it is worth considering that a move to HTTP/2 has benefits across all devices and all digital channels, whereas new coding languages like AMP HTML have limited applications. The two can work very effectively in tandem, of course, but the benefits of HTTP/2 are particularly widespread and long-term.
As such, we should view HTTP/2 as a platform for faster, more secure digital connections, which can only be a positive for SEO.
First and foremost, your website will need to be on HTTPS. In fact, this is the most laborious part of moving to HTTP/2, as once your site is secured the process is really rather simple. There are hints at the importance of this move, as HTTP/2 is often referred to as a “faster, more secure” protocol for the modern Internet.
If your website is already secured, you may only have to update your server software to the latest version.
In fact, you may already be on HTTP/2 without necessarily knowing the switch has happened as part of a server update. You can use SPDYCheck to verify this.
There is a list of known HTTP/2 implementations on Github too, which is pretty exhaustive and is updated regularly.
Look at your analytics data to see where your visitors come from, but they most likely come from HTTP/2 friendly sources such as Google Chrome, Firefox, or Microsoft Edge. Most browsers already support the new protocol, so the onus is on websites to make the switch.
It is also worth noting that if a site is on HTTP/2 and makes a connection with a resource that is still on HTTP 1.1, they will simply communicate in the latter language.
As such, there are no significant drawbacks to making this upgrade for site owners, but the rewards are long-lasting and will provide a better user experience. The SEO impact may be indirect, but it will still be felt as Google makes on-site engagement signals an increasingly important part of its ranking algorithms.
A slow site is a slow death for a brand. Whether you have a blog, an online storefront or anything else, your viewers need to able to form a positive impression fast. You have to be able to load a page quickly to pull that off.
Back in 2012, there was a study that found it takes under 3 seconds for people to decide whether or not your site is worth staying on. It’s that quick; they click the link and they form an opinion.
That study focused more on website design, which is certainly a crucial element to consider. But if in that time your site hasn’t properly loaded or doesn’t allow the user to begin interacting with content or features, you have probably lost a customer.
KissMetrics found that users were more than 40% more likely to abandon a page if it took more than ten seconds to load. Their patience was a little higher for mobile sites as they expected to have a longer load time through their phone than their desktop. But the average abandonment time was still 6 – 10 seconds.
User expectations are higher than ever. If you don’t meet them, there are plenty of competitors out there who are more than happy to take their cash.
But don’t worry, your site isn’t doomed. Here are the most common reasons that websites slow down, and each has a fix.
Hey, we get it, sometimes you have to shop for a bargain. Hosting services can get expensive, especially as your site grows and visitors increase. But saving too much on a host could be costing you customers in the long run.
Cheap hosting services can be tempting with their $5 – $10 per month packages that promises big things. The problem is – if they don’t deliver, you can’t really complain… you get what you pay for, right?
So how can you choose the best hosting service for your needs?
An easy fix: Do your homework. Your website is an investment, make sure you monitor your site performance and research a hosting company before signing up. Switching a host can turn into a nightmare!
Your website doesn’t just go from point A to point B when you load your site. It has multiple little hops between server points, which can be interrupted by problems in your local network.
An easy fix: Pingdom is the tool I use to monitor my site performance. To save time, I use Cyfe to monitor all of them from the single page. Just hook up Cyfe with your Pingdom account and watch all your sites from one handy page, including:
For bigger websites, monitoring performance and security service is always a great idea, because it can isolate more complicated problems that you can’t diagnose or troubleshoot on your own unless you have more experience with it.
I personally like Incapsula’s CDN, which has a number of performance-enhancing features. They have a free plan for basic websites and blogs, though if you are a professional site it is worth paying for their more advanced service.
What you are paying for is not just the performance tools, but also for basic security against DDoS attacks and other problems that can throw a serious wrench in your week. It’ss better to plan for the worst than deal with it when it comes.
If none of these appeal, there are dozens of alternatives, so you aren’t starved for choice.
It’s unbelievable how many well-known brands with huge digital marketing budgets still maintain slow, cluttered websites.
Some common culprits for website slow downs related to design are:
An easy fix: If you are on WordPress, the easiest route is to switch to a faster WordPress theme. Here’s a good list.
For others, there are plenty of tools that will show you which page elements slow your page down. The easiest and free one is Page Speed: Just copy-paste your landing page URL and scroll down to identify the culprit.
For more details, try SE Ranking page load optimization feature that will help you identify what slows your page down and give you exact steps to resolve the issue:
So get started troubleshooting the issue, and start fixing it! Before you know it you will see your retention increase.
In 2017 there has been a lot of focus around the impending mobile-first index and serving content through HTTPS. But there have also been two other important unfashionable topics lingering in the shadows: cybersecurity and site speed.
Since 2010, Google have publicly acknowledged that they take into account page load speed and site speed, and with tools like Page Speed Insights (along with a number of other third party solutions) we’ve been able to monitor and analyse our seconds.
However, balancing a quick page load speed and a great user experience hasn’t always been easy. As the internet has become a more and more important part of our daily lives, our online experience has evolved and we (as users) prefer much more visual content.
Big visuals also mean big image files, video files and potentially a lot of JS and CSS to fancy up the written text. This also means that there is more to load, therefore increasing load speed.
The reason that this is becoming more of an issue is because in 2015 mobile traffic overtook desktop traffic in a number of verticals, and mobile users browse everywhere; when they’re on the Wi-Fi at home, at work or using roaming data on the go. Users are noticing slow-loading pages; which means Google have noticed users noticing slow loading pages – and now Facebook has noticed slow-loading pages.
At the moment, with the noise surrounding mobile responsiveness and HTTPS, a lot of webmasters and development teams are being overwhelmed with changes. It’s also worth remembering that not everyone runs modern stacks or has a clean website; there are still a lot of big websites on legacy platforms.
That being said, there are a number of checks you can carry out that could make a big difference to your page load speed by refactoring your code.
Images and graphics play a big role in both delivering the message of the content and improving the user experience on a website. Getting rid of images isn’t viable, but compressing their file sizes is.
In some scenarios, the delivery of the images could also be optimized. If your images are quite far down a piece of content, utilize lazy-load solutions or even better, utilize a CDN like Cloudflare or Amazon CloudFront.
Another (and slightly less common) solution to improving page load speed is to utilize system fonts.
System fonts are the fonts that come pre-installed on your device. These are great options as they don’t have to be loaded, you simply call the system fonts in your CSS. That being said, choosing a system font can be tricky.
System fonts generally fall into two categories, optimized for screen and optimized for print. The main difference between these fonts is the detail. The only other issue with choosing a system font is that they are really over-exposed.
As every computer and device in the world (near enough) has them, they are not unique; so if typography is important to your brand, use custom fonts. But if Helvetica, Garamond or Seravek will do, use them.
I couldn’t go through his whole article without mentioning AMP. AMP allows webmasters to create their slow, heavy pages but essentially serve their content through a new AMP page, that canonicals back to the original slow page.
Accelerated Mobile Pages seems on the surface to be an easy solution, especially for the big content publishers. But it’s not really a solution to the problem, more papering over the cracks.
What made these big sites slow and heavy in the first place is often tied very closely to how they generate revenue, advertising. Big banner adverts, banners spliced into content, overlays, auto play videos in the sidebars (yuck), all there to get your view and edge the website ever closer to another CPM payday.
With AMP, you don’t get to do it to the same extent and will lose out on potential revenue and ad views. How content is formatted is also very controlled, and the fact that Google hosts the content makes it a weird position to put the content publisher in.
Google is obviously willing publishers to utilize AMP and take advantage of the ranking benefits (AMP v non-AMP), but it still an odd situation to be in. A lot of webmasters have migrated to AMP as they manage large web properties that command a lot of traffic, but not because it is a logical business sense to do so, but because they are too afraid not to while their competitors make the move.
AMP is the right move for a number of websites, but I would assess all options first to speed up your website before boarding the AMP ship.
Producing a modern website that works for both SEO and users is not easy. It requires a lot of careful technical planning and development to ensure it contains useful, valuable content; that it’s secure; that it works on mobile; and that it’s fast.
Site speed can often be overlooked as a lesser priority, but it’s an extremely important part of the quartet. There are a number of free ways to test your site speed as well, and a lot of them provide good guidance on how to fix a lot of the issues.
Google’s site speed tool now compares your site to your competitors’ and tells you how many visitors your site is losing because of your load time.
The post Google updates its mobile Test My Site tool with more competitive analysis appeared first on Search Engine Land.
Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.