Part 1 – Website Speed Optimization
Google wants your website to be faster
Google is such a prominent and dominant force on the web that it’s become a dictionary entry, a verb. When we are asked a question and we have no idea of what the answer is, we say ‘just Google it’. In some cases where we know the answer, due to not having enough time or patience we still reply with the same phrase, ‘just Google it’.
Everyone knows what Google is. And all webmasters want more than anything for their sites to rank high on Google. They know they stand to gain a lot from the search giant’s popularity. Even from the very beginning, Google did search engine right.
Where every other search engine at the time was focused on becoming a portal, a one-stop-shop on the Internet, Google was solely a search engine. People got much better results when people searched for stuff on Google than other search engines.
This largely led to Google’s success. To date, no other search engine comes close, not even Bing, the world’s second largest search engine.
“Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Over the years, Google has continuously improved and developed their services to make it in line with their vision. Back in the day, people could fool Google by implementing some tools that made their not great sites rank high on Google. Go ahead and ask any so-called black hat SEOs out there, fooling Google nowadays is insanely hard work.
Nowadays, in a bid to have your site rank high on Google, you’re going to have to play their game. You’re going to have to follow their rules. Otherwise, you risk getting your site forever stuck in the 100th or 1000th page. We all know no one will bother going that far. What this means is that your site will be practically invisible to people who may be interested in your content. It is assumed that if you have great content and a good website, you should be top of the rankings list.
What Google Wants, Google Gets
You should always remember those words. Whenever Google releases an algorithm update, webmasters struggle to make sure their site adheres to whatever information, clues, or guidelines Google has released.
But why should you care what Google wants? How would your brand or business benefit from it?
Before we answer that question, its best we first understand the context. Google is the number one website and search engine in the world. With over 3 billion queries handled on a daily basis, Google has the lion’s share of most searches on the Internet. That means billions of people use Google to look up information on all sorts of topics!
Now, imagine that number of people heading on over to your website simply because you appeared on the top spot on Google.
I am pretty sure there is a very large grin on your face having knowing this.
Your site will probably crash under all that traffic,and you’d need to upgrade your hosting to probably the most expensive option! Unless of course, your site is hosted on some cheap hosting plan. But, that’s a good problem to have, you know.
A massive volume of high-quality traffic is a great opportunity for your business. That traffic will surely translate directly to more leads and definitely more sales for your business. To crown it all up, you do not have to spend a penny towards making your website appear on those top spots on Google search pages!
Are you now convinced on why you should care about what Google wants? I honestly hope you clearly get the picture! If you don’t, seeing yourself on Google pages top spot is going to be like a dream that’s never going to become reality. Your page will be buried so deep and no one will be visiting your site from Google searches.
The only other option would be to spend your cash making payments to Google to have your site appear on the first page. This would be courtesy of Google Adwords which, in all honesty is an expensive venture. Other alternatives include paying for a spot on other search engines like Bing or paying for ads on social media. These options might get you traffic but definitely not from Google searches.
The question you should ask yourself is “which is better?” Would you rather pay for ads than get free highly targeted traffic? Of course, you’d choose the latter. There’s absolutely no point in paying for ads when you can conveniently get better quality traffic for free, right?
This is basically the reason why many webmasters and business owners do their best to make sure their site is compliant with Google requirements.
So, when Google demands for your site to be faster, it should be faster. If you do as Google says, your site will ultimately be rewarded by higher rankings on its search pages.
The Best Tools To Help You Configure Your Site To Make It Run Faster
Before you go off trying to make your site run faster, you need to first establish a baseline for your site’s speed. To achieve this, you need to make use of some tools. Below I have stated some of the top free tools which will give you plenty of actionable tips to help you configure your site and make it speedy:
1. Google PageSpeed Insights
This Google’s free tool will allow you to check out your website’s real performance for both desktop and mobile devices. All you need to do is enter your website URL, click on the blue ‘Analyze’ button, and wait for Google’s suggestions on how your site could be improved.
As shown on the screenshot, there are two tabs: Mobile and Desktop. Each tab will have its own professional set of suggestions on how you can improve your site’s performance on either platform.
You get a score for Page Speed and Optimization. Ideally, you want a perfect score. It is hard to achieve but not impossible. You just follow the suggestions Google gives you, so you get a perfect mark!
PageSpeed Insight’s give you both the good and the bad. When you scroll down the page, you’ll see a section for Optimization Suggestions and another section for Optimizations Already Present. Here’s what it looks like:
What you need to do is go through the Optimization Suggestions section, click on ‘Show how to fix’ and do the necessary changes.
If you want to know the good stuff, click on ‘Show details’ in the Optimizations Already Present section. It’s always a good idea to know you’re doing something right with your website. It motivates you to go and do the things that need to be done!
To use GTMetrix, all you need to do is enter the URL you want to analyze and you’ll have your site’s performance report in under a minute. GTMetrix is free to use, and you can gather lots of information on how you can improve your site’s speed.
The only pitfall is you can’t use a test server region closest to your location. Instead, the default region used will be Vancouver, Canada.
Here’s what the report looks like:
As shown in the image, you’ll get a summary of your ‘Performance scores’ and your ‘Page details.’ You can click on the different tabs to get an idea of the things you need to improve on.
For free users though you can only see data for PageSpeed, YSlow and Waterfall Analysis. If you want to view data in the Timings, Video and History tabs, then you need to either register an account or sign up for a premium plan.
3. Pingdom Website Speed Test
Pingdom is another great tool that you can use to check up on improvements you need to make on your website’s loading times. This tool is loved by many because it shows you a lot more information than Google’s PageSpeed Insight does.
All you need to do is type in your website’s URL, select the location you want to test from (currently, you can choose from 4 different locations), then hit the ‘Start Test’ button.
You’ll then be presented with the results. First up is a Summary section which gives your site a ‘Performance Grade.’ It also shows your site’s load time, page size, number of requests, and more (see screenshot below). Further down, you’ll have a list of things to improve on in the section ‘Performance Insights.’
If you want to see which of your website files are contributing to your site’s load, then you can check the ‘Content size by content type.’
What’s really cool about Pingdom’s tool is that they include a waterfall analysis of your site. This type of analysis will help you easily look up which factors affect your site’s performance.
Google is making efforts towards making the internet a better place for everyone. If you are serious in wanting to make your business a success, you’ll need to ensure your site loads fast too. If not, you will continuously lose potential customers to your competitors.