Site Speed – Google’s new mania
Everything new is a well-forgotten old, people say. This saying is also relevant to the internet and modern technology today. Site speed has been a trend more than once in the history of the Internet.
Let’s refresh our memories…
Further back in 1998 when I was working on one of my first websites, the internet connection speed was 14,400 bits per second. Nowadays, many of us use internet speed from 1 megabit (app. 69 times faster) to 100 megabits (app. 7000 times faster). During the difficult times of slow internet, the first thing web developers focused on were ways to reduce the site size – the code, images, even text – to speed up the loading process. This often led us to insane optimisations where instead of naming the images folder “images”, we simply named it “i”. It may seem like nitpicking, but every symbol “weighs” exactly 1 bite. From the word “images” we can save exactly 5 bits. When a given page has tens of images, we save bits. This led to naming the rest of the files with shortened names, like s.css, a.html, and similar, instead of using their full logical names, like style.css or about-us.html. Site speed was everything.
Waste of space
Shortly after high internet speed became widely accessible, sites began to use various animations, flash, effects, Java applets (oh, God, there was such a thing indeed!). In modern times, it’s a common practice to add sliders with large 8MB images, using video background, and an endless number of effects for all of which we needed some JS libraries. This was the recent reality when Google changed the rules of the game and brought back the old site speed mania.
The new old is back in style
About a year ago Google stated that site speed will be a principal ranking factor. Site speed is rarely felt by the end-user because 1-2 seconds for the user are not of grave importance. However, Google does a thorough analysis of the speed against other effects, counters, and other extras around it. It turns out that for the search engine old sites, created in 1998 are a good example of site speed and gives them 100/100 score on test speeds, unlike sites created months ago.
If until recently it was just a ranking factor, soon Google Chrome will show the users a signal that the site is loading slowly. This might lead to many users pushing the “X” right away instead of waiting for the site to load. It will also change many websites’ metrics that load counters before the sites’ content. This way a user who closes the site before it loads might not be recorded as visiting the site at all.
In the next year or two, it’s expected for web developers to encounter the old rules for saving bits and other caching techniques for saving every millisecond aiming at improving the score.
Why is this so important?
Google’s logic is simple – they accept that a user visits a website to read an article, see the description and images of a product, and find useful information. All else is useless. All animations, effects, sexy fonts, and sliders are left in the past. If you still want them, you will have to pay with lower rankings in search results which mean the loss of users and profit.
Here are some simple pieces of advice to speed your site’s loading:
- Use images with suitable sizes. Often in stock images sites, the images are with high resolution. Modern cameras and smartphones make the images just as large. Before uploading the image online, resize it to 2000px width, especially if you will not need a bigger image for a particular purpose. After that, you should additionally optimise the image with the right tools.
We suggest tinypng.com. And here is the result:
[6728.1 KB] [684.3 KB] [330.9 KB]
- Reduce the side metrics – if you wish to track the effectiveness with several tools, we suggest you focus on only one and trust it. Best would be to use Google Analytics. All else might slow down your site’s loading bringing you no benefit.
- Use only one font. We understand that web designers want to make their projects look fantastic. In our practice, we have gotten websites with 12 different fonts. Each of these will require an additional load of resources from your server, from Google fonts, or a third party. Each of them will steal from several milliseconds up to several seconds from your speed. The saddest part is that the end-user doesn’t feel the effects of the many fonts. But if your site is sent to the second results page of Google, you will feel it through negative cash flow.
Some hosting companies offer website caching, speeding up your site, and what not other techniques in their most expensive plans. This often leads to spending more money and receiving something that you’ll hardly feel the effects of.
That’s why I recommend something very simple – make simple sites, with simple pages. Add as many images as necessary in the right sizes for their intended purpose. The fewer effects, animations and loading of external apps and tools there are the better. This will guarantee you leading positions and keep you safe from the warning messages Google plans on showing users with Google Chrome.
If you need help to speed up your site and improve its rankings in Google, contact us.
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