What does Google say about Speed?

November 27th, 2013 by

google speeds website

While the search engine giant reportedly uses several hundred signals in determining where your website will rank, increasingly Google seems to suggest that speed is becoming a major factor in this process.

Recent Penguin and Panda updates have reshuffled the search results for thousands of websites, and speed was a determining factor.

Now, Google seems to be focusing on smartphones, using internal research to suggest that should be aiming for uptimes of just one second. This may come as a shock to many website owners who see this as a huge challenge.

Google is now telling us that not only is a one second load time desirable but it’s possible, especially for web pages displaying on Apple or Android phones. Using new guidelines and its popular PageSpeed tool, it is offering insights into this complex goal.

Increasingly, Google is telling website owners to focus on content above the fold, the same area that one sees when one picks up a folded offline newspaper. This content, said Google, should take just one second to load, while the rest of the HTML, JavaScript and CSS loads in the background.

Google calls this the Critical Rendering Path, and we all need to pay attention to it closely, especially websites that consume external data feeds such as RSS, which can slow a website down.

Specifically, Google suggested the following best practices:

• Server must render the response (< 200 ms)
• Number of redirects should be minimized
• Number of roundtrips to first render should be minimized
• Avoid external blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content
• Reserve time for browser layout and rendering (200 ms)
• Optimize JavaScript execution and rendering time

While simple websites may find themselves closer to achieving a one second load time, more dynamic sites which rely upon database backends such as SQL Server, MySQL or Oracle, will have a tougher time getting there. Google has previously told businesses that they should focus on mobile website design before desktop design. This suggests that most sites must now adopt a level of simplicity that forces them to eject most of their traditional web design conventions in favor of site designs that translate well onto smaller screens. While many website designers are responding with responsive websites, including responsive WordPress designs, there are a number of others building websites that use less elements, text and multimedia assets than their competitors. They are, in a sense, extremely mobile-centric. While this is a complex topic, any website designer or business owner should seek out a web host that offers fast servers and, if they are building data-rich resources, other speed optimization options in the form of Content Delivery Networks (CDN). They should also look at mobile-friendly technology offered by the web host, which offers turnkey online software geared towards mobile phones.

Failure to do so could cost them seconds in page load speeds that will ultimately be penalized by Google.

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