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Google announced in mid-2018 that The Speed Update was now going to be part of their algorithm when determining a website’s search engine page ranking (SERP).
Websites that are optimized for both desktop and mobile search will now be penalized if they load too slowly on either device. The news sent webmasters and website owners into a panic, as they wondered how to reduce the amount of time it takes their website to load.
There are plenty of tricks and tips that can be used to decrease a site’s loading time. But before any of these tricks can be used however, the first step in improving the speed of a website is to know how long the website currently takes to load.
Luckily, website and business owners do not need to simply head on over to their website and count out loud until their website loads. Instead, there are a number of free tools that can be used to test a website’s speed. By utilizing these resources, website owners can find out how long their website takes to load within seconds.
Not only do these sites provide metrics on a site’s loading time, they also show areas that can be improved on a website to decrease the loading time. While there are many of these free tools available, the following is a list of the most popular.
When using these tools, entering the website address is all that’s required. This means that not only can website owners test their own site’s loading speed, but also that of their competitors.
By simply testing both their own website and a competitor’s website, the results can then be compared. This will allow website owners to get a better understanding of how their site is performing against their competition’s, and which one customers would prefer.
No one can improve the speed of their website without first knowing the speed they are trying to improve. These free tools, along with many out there on the web, are here to help when you’re trying to beat your website’s current loading time.
There are plenty of benefits that come with reducing a website’s loading time and meeting Google’s new Speed Update. The top ten are below.
Optimize images by making them smaller before they are uploaded to the website. This will prevent the search engine from loading full-size images, and taking too long to load. Images can also be optimized by compressing them with free tools such as https://tinypng.com.
Enabling caching allows some of the information from a website to be temporarily stored on a user’s computer. This means they won’t have to load every element of a site upon each visit, which will also make the site load faster.
Bundle Multiple Files Into Single Files
Some types of code, including CSS and JS, are saved as multiple files, which makes a site take longer to load. Task runners can take care of this problem by bundling these files into single, respective files. That will decrease a website’s size, and help it load faster.
Keep Java Script Below The Fold
Too many website owners run their Java scripts above the fold, requiring it to be loaded before any other part of the page. By moving these lower down on the page, a website will load much more quickly. The fold is the part of a page users can see without scrolling.
Compress The Entire Site
Compressing a website is like placing several file into a .zip file. Compressing a site can reduce the size of HTML and CSS files by 50 to 70 percent. As compression is a server setting, many website owners will have to contact their web host to do it.
Upgrade Your Hosting Package
Some websites are slow simply because they are being hosted on a slow plan. Those using shared hosting should make the switch to virtual private servers or a dedicated server to help their site load faster. Anyone with a slower site should speak to their web host for potential solutions.
Plugins can be useful, but they also take a lot of resources that can slow a site down. Eliminating plugins that are no longer used or aren’t entirely necessary can greatly reduce a site’s loading time.
Enable HTTP Keep-Alive
There are several files within a website, and users must request many of them when visiting the site. This can use a lot of bandwidth, memory, and processing power, which can really slow a site down. Enabling HTTP Keep-Alive can reduce the required resources, making sites load faster.
Remove Characters From Coding
There are plenty of characters unnecessary in coding. These include enter, tabs, spaces, and more. The more characters in the code, the larger the page size and the longer it will take to load. Simply removing these characters can make a page load much faster.
Change The Theme
Just about all websites have themes, but some of them are very large and have complex coding. This can cause a website to load much more slowly. By simply swapping out one theme for another that doesn’t require as many resources, a website may load much more quickly.
In 2018, Google confused webmasters by announcing that they were going to change their algorithm with The Speed Update. Within the update, Google stated that it would now be taking site speed into consideration when ranking websites, and the pages within those sites.
But, didn’t Google already place an emphasis on speed when ranking websites? They did. However, there is one caveat within the new update that was not considered before.
Although the speed of a website has been part of Google’s algorithm since 2009, it primarily focused on desktop searches. With so many Internet users going mobile today, now Google is going to look at the speed of websites searched on mobile devices as well.
Websites that do not load quickly during a mobile search will be penalized by having their page ranking lowered. To confuse things even further though, not every site found through a mobile search will be penalized for not loading quickly.
The Speed Update Google released is certainly going to change the way webmasters create and manage their websites. Luckily, there are many tools available that allow webmasters to see how quickly their sites load, and even compare their website speed with competitive sites.
There are also many ways to increase the speed at which a website loads. With just a few tweaks, webmasters will find it easy to stay within Google’s new algorithms so their website can remain high in the SERPs, both on desktop and on mobile devices.
When Google announced their new Speed Update in January of 2018, just about all webmasters and website owners around the world were sent into a panic. It’s not surprising. Every time Google announces a change to their algorithms, that change typically affects all websites.
However, that doesn’t seem to be the case with the Speed Update, and the mass hysteria may not have been entirely necessary.
In the announcement made by Google, the company claimed the update would now test the speed of sites on mobile devices, and rank those with longer load times lower in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
In the same announcement though, Google stated that the new update would only affect “pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries.” But what exactly does this mean?
It means that sites that are already optimized to load quickly don’t need to worry about making too many changes.
While Google will let website owners know about new updates they unroll, they keep certain details about factors affecting that update shrouded in mystery.
When it comes to the Speed Update, the one thing the search engine doesn’t tell website owners is how slow is too slow for a website’s loading time.
This doesn’t mean though, that website owners have no way to tell if their site takes too long to load. By simply heading over to a free site speed test tool, such as PageSpeed Insights, website owners will get an idea of whether or not their site takes too long to load. This tool specifically considers a page to be slow if the page takes longer than three to four seconds to load all content on the site.
In addition to this, websites that already have great content on their site may also not be affected by the new update. Google also said when making their announcement that, “The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.”
For webmasters and website owners, this means that if they are delivering informative content that users find useful, they may not need to worry if their site takes seven or eight seconds to load.
While most of Google’s updates apply to all websites, the Speed Update does not. Websites that are already optimized to load quickly on mobile devices, and websites that already have great content may have no reason for concern.
Before wasting money and time optimizing a website even further, website owners should first check the loading speed and the content quality of their site to better understand how their site will be affected by this recent update.
As of July 9, 2018, Google’s new Speed Update was applied to all websites. The update is yet another change in the search engine’s algorithms.
After that July date last year, any website that loaded too slowly on either desktop or mobile would be penalized within the search engine page rankings (SERPs).
So, why should website owners and webmaster be concerned with this new algorithm and how it applies to their sites?
One of the main reasons of course, is to ensure that your website remains in good standing with Google. Like any other algorithm, not following it could result in a lower SERP, which means that fewer users will find the website, or a page within that website, when making a query in a search engine.
Being the most popular search engine in the world, when a site does not follow Google’s algorithms, it can have a negative impact on a website, and on the business that runs it.
However, there are other reasons to optimize your website for Google’s Speed Update as well.
Consider first that while only 0.7 percent of online traffic came from mobile devices in 2009, those numbers skyrocketed to 50.3 percent in 2017. In addition to these numbers, it’s also known that most mobile users will leave a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load.
So, not only are more users searching the web on a mobile device, but those users also expect websites to load quickly. When they don’t, users will go to a competitor’s site. This also has a negative impact on any website that doesn’t load quickly.
Most website owners are concerned with following Google’s algorithm, and they certainly should be when it comes to this newest update as well.
However, there’s even more reason to ensure that your site is optimized to load quickly when you consider how many users will leave, and how many customers you may lose, simply due to a site that doesn’t load quickly enough.
To keep both Google and those users happy, it’s important that anyone that owns a website ensures they are in line with The Speed Update.