The Need For Speed: Google Says It Matters
Moderator: Vanessa Fox, Contributing Editor, Search Engine Land
Patrick Bennett, Co-Founder, BLVD Status
Maile Ohye, Senior Developer Programs Engineer, Google Inc.
Ralf Schwoebel, CEO, Tradebit, Inc.
Brian Ussery, Director of SEO Technology, Search Discovery Inc.
Maile’s first. Here’s her agenda:
- Need for speed
- Faster on the frontend: for little or no money down
- Available tools
- Performance and ranking
- 3 steps to success
- Looking ahead: performance and SEO
Need for Speed: Increased Conversions
Side-by side testing of an optimized site vs. the original version. They found a faster site resulted in higher conversions and higher volume for average conversion. Delays under half a second reduces a visitor’s average searches/day even after the delay is removed.
Good News: Faster on a Budget
The Performance Golden Rule: 80-90 percent of the end-user response time is spent on the front end. Start there.
Tools: Site Performance
It’s a lab tool. It will tell you how long it took on average for a page to load. It tells you how slow it is in comparison to other sites. It will tell you average load times for specific pages, as well as specific clues to make it faster.
Available Google Tools: Page Speed
It’s a Firebug plugin to use on any URL. It prioritizes ways to speed up your site.
Established truths about ranking:
- We aim to give users the best search experience possible
- Ranking is a nuanced process, over 200 signals
- Google is always innovating and conducting experiments
As of today, performance is not a factor in organic ranking. If performance becomes a signal, we expect to notify webmasters. But, hint: Google is pushing the importance of speed.
3 Steps to a Faster Site
- Check out site performance in Webmaster Tools
- Install Page Speed
- Explore! Check out tools like YSlow, WebPagetest.org, hang out in the “make the Web Faster” forum
A faster site is proven to increase conversions, pages views and time on site while lowering bounce rate and operating costs. That’s measurable SEO value. Check out more at google.com/speed. She closes saying, “So you understand that speed is a priority. Good luck making the Web faster!”
Next Patrick takes the podium. Is site monitoring part of your SEO budget? Search for “website uptime monitor” and the tools can help you identify speed problems on your site.
What are some hints in analytics? Certain KPIs can shed light on bottlenecks:
- Page views
- Bounce rate
- Time on site
Create a custom report to watch performance KPIs. They’re good indicators of whether or not the site is functioning properly.
What’s the ROI?
- Lower bounce rates
- Higher number page views
- Higher time on site
- More user interaction = more conversions
- More spider interaction = higher indexability
This tool gives a performance grade to a site and lists important components that are in play.
Okay, my site is slow. Where should I start? It’s important to have a good host.
- Create a benchmark
- New server?
- Server-side caching
- Fewer HTTP requests
- Gzip compression
- Image compression
CSS Sprites: Create one image that holds all of your CSS background images, buttons, etc. This means a lot fewer HTTP requests.
When should I stop?
- Continually make this a priority.
- User the tools weekly to find bottlenecks.
- Never stop optimizing.
- Can we make this standard?
Ralf steps up next. He’s coming from an e-commerce background.
Focus on speed when SEO is done. Speed influences ranking.
Using Open Source Tools
- Search: Sphinx (or Lecene)
- Cache: Memcache and Squid
- Code: XCache for PHP
Embrace the Squid
- www.squid-cache.org: free proxy for Lin/Win
- Easy to setup, powerful, stable, scalable, fast
Divide and conquer: put the statistics into cache, lower server load.
- Local delivery from the closest hub
- Load balancing included, also fail-over
- A fistful of dollars gives you
- A global content distribution network
- Increased speed = higher conversions
- A security layer between your site and hackers
- A fail-over solution to sleep better
- Less load on your main servers
Brian is next. Consumers expect a page to load in 2 seconds or less. Speed is not in analytics, so what do you do? Use the Webmaster Tools Maile talked about. The more data points there are, the more accurate it is.
- Split the initial payload into 2 parts: 1) necessary to render the page and 2) not necessary to render page
- Prevent scripts from blocking other downloads
- Order resources for load efficiency
- Avoid placing inline scripts between CSS and other resources
- Use a cookie free domain for serving static content.
- Compact CSS, place it in <head: and remove unused CSS.
- With images, use the appropriate optimized format. Specify dimensions, don’t scale images in (X)HTML
- Use a Favicon with expiration to avoid 404s
- Use Google Page Speed to optimize images
- Strip whitespace
- Minimize redirects and remove dead links to avoid wasteful requests