Page speed a factor in new mobile website indexing, according to Google
At a recent mobile-first session, Google discussed how page speed – the amount of time that a webpage takes to load — will become a factor in site ranking when the company launches its new mobile indexing. Mobile-first was created to address problems with current mobile page ranking: that desktop website indexing algorithms are used for mobile site ranking, though the actual mobile page may have shorter content. New algorithms will be looking at the mobile website content. Before mobile-first initiative takes off, likely in 2018, developers will want to optimize website loading time for ranking and user experience.
Mobile website speed optimization
1. Decrease server response time
Assuming most users are on a 3G network, it’s recommended to keep server response time under 200 milliseconds for website speed optimization. Facebook and others recommend using multi region hosting to accomplish this. Also, developers can make sure that their server is upgraded for optimal bandwidth consumption.
Every time a browser that parses a website encounters an external source like a script or linked CSS, it takes an additional server trip to download the linked resource. Google experts recommend putting scripts and code inline for web content above the fold (above the bottom of a page in relation to a device screen) so website speed is seamless from the user’s perspective. Scripts on the rest of the page can load after ATF content displays.
3. Optimize scripts
Complicated scripts take longer to execute. Google recommends designers take advantage of developer tools like Chrome developer tools to optimize their code.
4. Avoid redirects
Website redirects that take visitors from one page to another add extra webpage loading time. Developers can minimize website redirects to enhance response time; for example, instead of redirecting users from a desktop page to a mobile version, developers can create a separate, independent mobile website for smartphone users instead.
There’s more that developers can do to improve their website response time. Facebook suggests several other speed best practices — compress files, minimize plugins, optimize images, remove redundant data, and dynamically adjust content for slower networks and devices. Special tools like Google PageSpeed can help developers evaluate how to enhance their mobile website speed.
Google has dedicated tools to help web designers make their pages display faster. Google PageSpeed Insight provides feedback on a website’s current structure; how pages can be improved. Designers submit a URL to receive a score based on Google’s performance best practices – a set of speed rules as highlighted in the above recommendations. The tool evaluates server configuration, HTML structure, and linked scripts and resources in the process; however, developers have to account for users’ network connection separately. Then to optimize their websites, developers can install Google PageSpeed Module on their web server and use a suite of pre-built packages and libraries for automatic website speed optimization.
There’s a PageSpeed plugin that offers evaluation for WordPress speed optimization as well. Report summaries can be filtered for posts, pages, categories, and more. WordPress users can also configure the plugin to run on a schedule, checking sites for WordPress speed optimization daily, biweekly, or monthly.
Google’s mobile-first announcement and PageSpeed tools are indicators that the search engine company values website loading time in overall website ranking. Beyond SEO, designing a website to load faster can help improve user experience as consumers expect pages to display seamlessly now more than ever, whether it’s on a smartphone, tablet, or PC.