It’s now very clear, based on recent announcements from Google, that Search is up for a big engine overhaul this year. The latest announcement is a biggie, with major changes to its mobile ranking algorithm set to go live in July this year. ‘Page Speed’ will officially become a ranking factor for mobile searches. The new speed update will focus on penalising mobile pages that deliver the slowest experience to users.
Here are 7 top tips to ensure your site doesn’t get impacted for ‘driving like a nanna’:
1. Rev The Engine, And See How Fast It Goes
The new update will mostly impact site’s that deliver the ‘slowest experience’ to visitors. There’s no specific benchmark to work towards, however a good place to start is Google PageSpeed Insights. This very useful system tests your site, and provides an overall site speed ranking out of 100 (mobile specific). It will also provide suggestions on how to improve a site’s speed.
2. Accelerate Your Mobile Pages
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are web pages designed to load instantaneously. These pages have stripped down HTML and disabled 3rd party scripts and libraries. Alongside this, images and other embedded content are requested by the page after the page has loaded. Learn more about how to create an AMP.
3. It’s Not About Size, It’s How You Use It That Counts
Optimise every single image on your site. Poorly optimised images are one of the biggest causes of slow website speed. While you’re at it, make sure you choose a relevant file name (add keywords!!), and don’t forget to add an alt tag to each image. Read Yoast SEO’s blog on optimising images for search engines.
4. Go Up A Gear With Browser Caching
Browser Caching enables the ability for browsers to keep a copy of files required to display the website. The files are saved on a user’s device the first time they visit the site. The next time they pay the site a visit, it will load much faster because some of the content has already downloaded.
5. Service Your Server
Server response time can be another big contributor to website speed. There are three major parts to improving server response time:
- Improve your server software or configuration
- Enhance the quality of your web hosting service, ensuring adequate CPU and memory
- Reduce the resources required by your pages
6. Reduce Page Detours
URL redirects, which automatically take website visitors from one page to another location, can impact on page speed (each redirect adds valuable milliseconds to the load speed). This is even more of an issue on
mobile devices, as networks can be less reliable. So, a simple road rule to follow – limit the number of redirects on your site.
7. Fuel Up Content Above The Fold
This is another simple idea, yet a very effective technique to ensure fast page speed. All content which appears above the fold on mobile, should load first. Everything below the fold should load second. Google actually fact calls out pages that “fail” to load above the fold first, recommending all sites ‘prioritise visible content’.
Words by Angela Hampton, Managing Director, The Wired Agency