Google is no stranger to changing the rules all websites have to live by. This time, Google has decided that websites need to speed up and many of them are about to be left behind. It’s now a race to show your website to the world and the ones who can keep up will stay in Google’s good graces.
So, what exactly is Google up to in May of 2021? In one word: Speed.
Google has decided that web pages need to show in the browser or mobile device within three (3) seconds. In addition to that, within another three (3) seconds, that site has to be active for the user. This means that they need to be able to click any link and navigate any menu within six (6) seconds. Whew.
This could be a herculean task for some older sites. In the WordPress world alone, this could catch a lot of people off guard. WordPress isn’t the fastest beast in the world, but if you don’t junk it up too much and have the right plugins, it can succeed. Unfortunately, most WordPress sites are not setup correctly for speed. Most are setup for function, usually for social media and SEO management. The problem is that most of this slows down websites and Google has declared war on those exact sites.
So, what can you do to fix this? First, make sure you hosting is setup to be fast as well. A slow host will never help you site comply with Google no matter what else you do. You want a host that provides a LightSpeed server, something all our servers have. LightSpeed servers are designed with special caching features to keep the site fast and load up quickly. This is especially help for sites with large size images or a high quantity of them.
Second, you can make sure you have a plugin for caching the images for the site itself. If you host uses LightSpeed, there is a plugin specifically for that. Otherwise you can try other caching plugins. You may need to try out a few and find the one that suits your site best. These are also being constantly updated, so make sure to keep up-to-date with them so that you are getting the best possible speed from the caching algorithms.
Third, you can add a ‘lazy loader’ plugin to keep your images manageable by only loading what is in the viewing window of the browser at that time. Any images that are not within the window won’t load until the user scrolls to them. This is also why it’s important to have the caching plugin so that when they do scroll to them, the image in the cache helps it to load quickly, so the user never even knows all of this is going on. For sites with a lot of images, especially ‘below the fold’, this means not in the window of the browser when the site first loads up, it can save you a tremendous amount of load time for you site.
Lastly, you can always try and limit the amount of images you site uses. You can also use higher compression to make the images smaller size-wise. It can make the image blurry if you aren’t careful, but managing your image size can be a huge relief off the web page loading and caching systems. WordPress has some background processes to keep images manageable, but having a properly optimized image before loading it can make your website leaner and faster. Google likes that.
One other thing you can do is to spread your site over more pages. You don’t need to cram everything into one page or post. It’s okay to have more pages and links as long as it makes sense to the user. You don’t want to create a maze for them to get to the information they need, but having each topic with it’s own page can also help with them trying to find the information in a sea of information on a page.
We are providing a site analysis for anyone who feels they need their site checked for speed or any other issues that might cause them to loose Google’s favor. You can contact us at 469.389.2872 or use our contact form. We will happily help you make your website the best it can be.
Kevin Black has been designing and developing websites for over 20 years.