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This July Google started rolling out the Google Speed Update we’ve all been anticipating since they announced it at the beginning of the year. But what does the Speed Update mean for you and your users? Let’s discuss.

Now more than ever, it’s important to get your page up to speed with Google’s latest algorithm. In fact, there are a few key techniques to making sure your site is in line for the Speed Update. In the past using WordPress and its plugins can greatly speed up your development time, but all of these extra resources can really bog down your server. This can severely hurt your page speed—especially for mobile users. This is especially true if your site is running on a low-budget, shared hosting account.

At Red Olive we’ve had clients decide against the best server packages because it didn’t make sense with their goals. From affordability to needing to get development done quickly, there are few reasons why going with a low budget, shared site is a good idea. But, for the vast majority of our clients we suggest opting for the more customer service heavy packages (like Bluehost, WPEngine, GoDaddy, and Network Solutions).

Let’s dive a little deeper into the Google Speed Update and how it effects your mobile search rankings.

Reasons Why Google Page Speed for Mobile Matters

Today, most people now load your website while they are out in the world on their mobile devices, using various data plans. Since the internet has long moved past the need for Wi-Fi and laptops, most of these plans are expensive. This means that loading large amounts of resources is not only unnecessary, but it’s taking money out of yours and your visitors’ pockets! When this happens, most users start loading your site but get fed up and leave. Ultimately, this increases your bounce rate, diminishes your brands value on Google, and your users stop visiting your site, costing your business.

Here at Red Olive we have some network tips to reduce your site requests and a plan to boost your sites mobile marketing.

Working with clients in various stages, we’ve run into loading issues and site speed problems that counteract our marketing plans for these clients. Google Page Speed has given us a good insight on why we are scoring low and what kind of fixes we can do to help increase mobile rank and search ability for these slower-moving sites.

Here are some common issues and the tools we use to solve them

Optimize images

This is the most important step to making sure your site is running at the fastest speed possible.

1. We begin by downloading your assets and run a compression plugin called ImageOptim — better Save for Web. Red Olive then FTPS those smaller assets back into your uploads folder.

2. We then install a plugin called “EWW Images,” which optimizes anything that was missed and doesn’t allow new images to be added to the media library without being compressed to their maximum potential.

3. We then comb through the site and make sure the appropriate image format is being called. For example, if the image doesn’t require any transparency then it is best to be in the .jpg format which is compressed and loads faster. Along with this we also use svg’s for icons and only having .gifs where it makes sense.

4. We also make sure that no images are too big (generally over 1800 pixels wide) because that load time = money!

There are many options available for image compression and we like to weigh each site’s budget and goals before we choose how to combine and offset some of these solutions. If your goals and budget aligns, then you can also use some of that budget for storage like Amazon S3 or a CDN.

Eliminate Render-Blocking JavaScript and CSS in Above-the-Fold Content

For our clients, we also like to use a plugin to try and handle some of these issues. However, depending on the theme, all the settings may not be able to be turned on. The auto-optimize plugin gives us an easy way to configure HTML, CSS, & JS compression and render-blocking. Render-blocking includes recourses like CSS file or JS files that stop the load of the DOM HTML elements until they are totally finished loading. We typically set up that plugin for our clients. Sometimes, however, the plugin can break your theme, so you need to pick and choose the settings to disable certain resources from being compiled and moved.

Leverage Browser Caching

This is a very important step that will significantly increase you page speed score. Using your FTP connection go into your .htaccess file and add this code to set your Expire Headers & Gzip Compression.

HTML5 Boilerplate has a really good example we like to follow :

The .htaccess is very useful when trying to increase load times because you may be waiting too long by using plugins to handle some simple redirects. By moving your 301’s into your .htaccess you will increase your website score. This takes some special knowledge, but here at Red Olive we are masters at making sure you avoid landing page redirect chains and keeping your page rank by removing those pesky 404’s.

Reduce Server Response Time

This means that you probably aren’t running one of those high-tier servers, like a dedicated VP. When budget and time is on your mind, you can remedy some of this by using a heavy caching which intersects some of the traffic to your site to show people a cached version of your files. This reduces the strain on the server. Red Olive likes to install a plugin like WP-Cache or CloudFlare to further cache your website. It’s important to focus on reducing the amount of HTTP requests and working with the top companies that can help pick the right CDN for you.

Google Page Speed Tests

Google also offers additional tools and insights that are based directly off your site. After you’ve run through all of our techniques, run your site through their PageSpeed Tools to make sure you’ve caught everything slowing down your site.

If you have any other questions about Google Page Speed or want to work with us to get your site in-line, contact Red Olive.
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