Are we losing the Page Speed battle? And if so, who are the losers?

djbaxter

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Google Losing Page Speed Battle - And Nobody Wins
by Roger Montti, Search Engine Journal
Nov 26, 2019

Google has been encouraging publishers to increase their web page speed for at least ten years. Google has created resources for helping publishers make their sites faster. Yet a comparison of year over year metrics shows that web pages are getting slower.

HTTPArchive data shows that the average first contentful paint for mobile at the beginning of 2019 was 6.3 seconds. It took an average of 6.3 seconds for a site visitor to see content while viewing in a mobile device.



By October 1st, 2019, the mobile experience was slower.

The average score for mobile went up by nearly two seconds to 8.0 seconds.


Did Mobile Internet Become Slower?
According to a report by Speedtest.net, a comparison of mobile Internet speed for the first two quarters of 2019 and the same period of 2018 shows that mobile Internet speed actually increased.
  • AT&T +45.1%
  • Verizon Wireless +9.5%
  • T-Mobile +9.4%
Did Mobile Websites Became Slower?
If the major mobile Internet service providers have increased speeds then that may indicate that mobile web pages became slower.

According to Google’s developer page, things like render blocking external stylesheets and scripts and other factors related to minizing file sizes can impact the First Contentful Paint metric.

This is what the developers page says: First Contentful Paint | Tools for Web Developers | Google Developers
  • “Minimize the number of render-blocking external stylesheets and scripts upon which the page depends. See Render-Blocking CSS and Loading Third-Party JavaScript.
  • Use HTTP Caching to speed up repeat visits.
  • Minify and compress text-based assets to speed up their download time. See Optimizing Encoding and Transfer Size of Text-Based Assets.
  • Optimize JavaScript bootup and reduce JavaScript payloads with tree shaking or code splitting. The goal is to do less JavaScript work on page load.”
....

The SEO community is aware of Page Speed, probably because it’s a (very small) ranking factor and because of the well known benefits such as increased revenue.

But for some reason, page speed keeps increasing. One would think that the carrot of higher conversions would be enough. But it’s not. The takeaway here is that there may be an opportunity to take advantage of slow competitor speeds by besting them with a faster website.

It may help increase sales and brand loyalty and all the rewards that come with that.

The takeaway is that while Google is losing the battle for increasing the speed of the Internet, it’s the web publishers who are losing the revenue war by not trying hard enough to focus on page speed.
Read more...
 

Conor Treacy

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I think the big issue dragging sites right now is that they're designed as Responsive (which is what we've been encouraged to do). The problem I'm seeing is that so much bloat is added to a single CSS file to cover all the various screen sizes, then inline edits, then javascript/jquery and the rest of it slows it down that bit more.

I've recently been taking WordPress sites and saving a full copy as a static site. We can still use all the power of WordPress but it's static that's served to the user and is anywhere from 3-5 seconds faster as it's not querying the database to build sites etc.

The push for an all inclusive design I think has hurt overall speeds on mobile for many people. They just don't optimize images for mobile, or serve different images to mobile vs desktop and instead load a 2MB image for no real reason.
 

djbaxter

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That's true although there are ways to mitigate that. Still, no matter what you do, mobile speeds are always lower in my experience, sometimes considerably lower.

Mobile carriers may have increased maximum download speeds in the past three years but that is easily overridden by location (how far to the nearest cell tower? how may buildings or trees or hills are in the way of that tower?), traffic density (number of users hitting that tower), and even weather conditions and atmospherics.
 

Cherie Dickey

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Devices themselves can play a part in this as well, I think. Software, available memory, etc can cause slower download speeds, even with the best connection... Some also connect better than others to the available network.

Not everyone can afford to fork out the $$ for a new phone every year. I personally refuse to, and when I do buy a new one, it's usually the best "budget" phone I can find. I also live in a rural area with all the network issues that brings.

I think in building a site, there is kindof a tightrope to walk for mobile. There needs to be a balance between building it for people who are used to having the best (better devices, better network speeds), and so expect a more robust experience, and building for people who (for whatever reason) have more challenges.

It's been a long time since I've built a site, and I do not envy developers.
 

djbaxter

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Now with 5g mobile internet the game will be on mobileside
First, 5G needs to be made available and affordable in your area (it isn't in Canada yet and I don't think it is in the US).

Second, you need to make affordable mobile devices capable of 5G that will convince consumers to upgrade.

I think we have a while yet before this is a reality we have to deal with. There are still a sizeable number of active mobile devices with a top speed of 3G.
 

Wirenut

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The Google Test My Site page is saying that my site is slow, it takes 6.1 seconds. I understand that this isn't optimal, but I also think that if someone is looking for a contractor and decided to click on my result to go to my website, that they will follow thru even if it takes a few seconds to load.

My main concern is if Google is putting me further down the listings due to the speed being slow.
 

Wirenut

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What platform do you use on your website? If I recall, is it Joomla or Drupal?
Joomla. Biggest mistake ever. I wish I used Wordpress.

But at this point, since it is only a small website, I wish I could just change it to HTML pages like it originally was before I wanted to get all fancy lol.
 

djbaxter

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Maybe you could convert it to WordPress? I recently wrote a blog post about my own research and conclusions regarding how to significantly speed up WordPress sites... made a big difference for my sites.


 

Rich Owings

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Kind of funny that they liked Pingdom the best. In my experience, Pingdom almost always shows the fastest load time of any of these tools. I don't trust their results. It's important to remember that these tools all show page load speed based on a single session at that moment in time. The only broad, real user numbers I know of come from Google Analytics site speed section and Google's CrUX data.
 

djbaxter

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I can't disagree. I generally use multiple tests to see where they agree, as much as anything.

Also note the summary in that article:

In conclusion, I’d recommend the following:
  • If you need a tool to do simple tests with, give Pingdom Tools a try. It will show you everything you need to know to get an idea of how fast a website is. 👈 BEST OVERALL
  • If you want detailed test results and track them over time, you should go ahead with GTmetrix.
  • For actionable insights that affect SEO directly, you should use Google’s PageSpeed Insights. 👈 BEST FOR SEO
  • To go a bit more granular into how your test works and what you want to test specifically (like in a development scenario, for example), then go ahead and check out WebPageTest.
especially that BEST FOR SEO part. I wish Google's own tests didn't disagree with one another, though. Otherwise I might endorse it on the basis that if you want to rank in Google you should probably pay attention to what Google pays attention to.
 

Tim Colling

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In my experience, Pingdom almost always shows the fastest load time of any of these tools. I don't trust their results.
I wish Google's own tests didn't disagree with one another, though.
Same here. I quit looking at Pingdom results a long time ago. Also, I'm never certain which Google test to pay the most attention to.
 

UKSBD

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Wordpress has made it so anyone can build a nice looking site but because people don't know what they are doing, they just add more and more plugins, which use more and more resources, which slows the sites down.

Quite often you will get asked about why sites are slow, login to their Wordpress admin panel to find 20+ plugins being used :(
 

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