A really fast site, and Google don’t care
Ian Lurie Nov 15 2011
I wrote a post, and this time lots of folks taught me good stuff. See the comments after the post for great info I’d totally forgotten on how Google calculates site performance
Google, I’m very… disappointed.
You may have noticed that Conversation Marketing is a wee bit more speedy now. Last week, a page on this site loaded in 5 seconds. Now, pages load, on average, in under 2. And some pages go faster than stink:
I generated that report using tools.pingdom.com. Go give it a try if you want.
So, why don’t you give a crap?
How I sped up my site
If you want your site to go really, really fast, try the steps I used. This gets a bit technical, but it’s worth figuring out. Or just hand this list over to your web developer:
- Enable GZIP compression on your server. If you don’t know how, hound your webmaster until they do it. GZIP smushes down all of the files your web site uses, shoots them across the internet, then lets your browser un-smush them. That really speeds page downloads.
- Write decent code. If your home page uses more than 10,000 lines of HTML code, something’s wrong. If you don’t know that by now, and you’re supposedly a web ‘pro’, do us all a favor: Sell your copy of ExpressionEngine and learn to code using a text editor.
- Do the same thing with any embedded CSS of more than 10 lines. Same reason.
- Learn to compress your images. Use JPEG compression on photos, and use GIF or PNG for images with fewer colors. If you don’t bother, you suck.
- Resize images in a photo editor. Don’t use HTML to resize an image. That forces browsers to load huge images, even if you resize them to postage-stamp size. If you resize them in an editor first, then visiting browsers download the image size they need, and you’re not trying to ram a beach ball into a wine bottle.
- Use a content distribution network (CDN). This was the big one. I’d already done all of the steps above in previous site sweeps. But I set up an account with MaxCDN, then installed their plugin on my blog, and voila: I shaved 2 full seconds off of all load times.
Google doesn’t care
If there’s one disappointment in all this, it’s Google. They have a site performance analyzer in Google Webmaster Tools. It sucks.
According to Pingdom, pages load in 1.35-2 seconds.
And, according to Google Page Speed, my site now scores a 94/100:
Pretty high marks.
But according to Google Webmaster Tools, my site is driven by four tired squirrels, all running in opposite directions:
I’d love to hear an explanation from the Googlers, if anyone’s reading this.
This shakes my faith a little bit. Yes, faster-loading pages are better. But will my rankings really improve if Google can’t accurately measure load speed? Or is the report itself just inaccurate?
I’ll keep you all posted.
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More