Mobile-First Indexing: How To Increase Page Load Time Without AMP
If you ever had a fast internet connection, yet your favourite website still often takes a long time to load. So, in this age of Gigabit Fiber Service, 4K video streaming and massively multiplayer online games – Why are we still so often waiting around for pages that might only consist of text and images to hit our screens?
Well, ultimately most issues that cause pages to load slowly can be classified as some form of latency – a concept we will write a post about in details in upcoming days. Simply put latency is the delay between an input and the corresponding action. Something you have probably noticed if you have ever tried to watch a video with an out of sync Bluetooth speaker but when it comes to loading websites.
However, webpage scripts are almost like little programmes that your computer has to run in addition to loading the page. Content meaning additional time is often required to process those scripts. Those scripts are responsible for handling certain interactive elements of webpages. But perhaps unsurprisingly many of them are out there for advertising purposes. Add scripts, both fetch ads to place on webpages and send information back to ad servers. To keep track of analytics and user browsing habits.
So, a marketer tracking the embarrassing music that you might like to listen to could be behind your favourite site loading slowly or respond slowly. When you try to click on something but even if you are loading up a website that’s mostly free of big clunky scripts, a page can still be written poorly asking the browser to make tons of requests for different elements like scripts and images aside. From the intricacies of how web pages are written, another frequent source of frustration is ping.
The time it takes for a packet to leave your computer to reach the server and the response to be returned to you. Packets used to measure ping time are doesn’t bite. So, ping time is not dependent on how many megabits per second your ISP is offering. It’s better to think of high ping time as another form of latency that’s usually caused by a server being very far away. Because even though electrical impulses that carry information over the internet travel at incredibly fast speeds then still take time to reach servers and if you are sitting in Los Angeles trying to access a server in London that amount of time is going to be noticeable.
Any ping above- about a hundred milliseconds will probably cause web browsing to feel at least a little bit slower. Thanks to the additional delay caused by these vast distances and although, this article is about why websites load slowly. This is also a part of the reason why gamers prefer servers that are geographically closer to them as a ping higher than just 50 milliseconds can cause lag. Due to the real-time nature of many games, but back to the websites.
Are there any ways that developers can get around slow loading times. Both by coding and their pages efficiently need to cut down on how much work your browser has to do and by caching frequency accessed data through schemes, apps or softwares available in the market. Beginning in 2015, Google announced that they were going to give more favour toward mobile-friendly sites. At the time this was called MobileGeddon. Now, at the end of 2017, Google started rolling out something called mobile-first indexing. Now, it’s the beginning of July 2019, and everybody is seeing mobile-first indexing rolling out to all the websites that they manage. So that means that Google is putting the trigger on this.
Before we get into what Mobile-First Indexing is, let’s understand what indexing is and how it related to search results. When you type something into Google, and you get series of search results back, those results are coming from the index of all the web pages that Google has crawled, rendered, and brought back to Google, and put them in their index. Google uses spidering bot called Googlebot to go out and crawl links throughout the web, and try and index all the pages that exist on the web. Up until now in 2018, what you have seen in the Google Index meaning the search results pages, has been the desktop version of the sites.
It has been a desktop-first index. Meaning, if you have two versions of your website, say like a desktop version and a mobile version, that desktop version has been what’s appeared in search results upto now. So with mobile-first indexing, Google now has a different user agent and that’s called Googlebot Smartphone. So, it’s crawling the link. Indexing web pages as if it was a mobile phone. here’s how the indexing is changing in 2018. Like we said in the past, Google would try and crawl the desktop version of your site and then index it.
That’s changing now. What’s happening now is they are crawling the mobile version of your website. And, indexing that mobile version. If your website does not have a mobile version of that page, then it will index the desktop version. Here’s a myth that must be clear up. That you have seen some confusion about. There are not two indexes for Google. There is only one index of search results. Meaning if you are searching on desktop, you are not going to see an index of just desktop results.
If you or your customers are searching on mobile, or desktop, or tablet, or anything else, you are going to see the same index of results. So, mobile-first indexing: the things that you need to be aware of. Here’s what it doesn’t affect: if your site is already mobile-friendly, if you use one code base for both your desktop and your mobile site, if you are on your phone, or you are on a tablet, and it just kind of rearranges the content – you are fine. No changes. If you have something that’s what they call either responsive design or adaptive design, that’s the same thing. You are fine. No changes. Now if you have an MDOT site, if you have a separate web address for the mobile pages on your website, if your site is configured in a way to where it dynamically gives different page content to mobile users versus desktop users, then you definitely need to pay attention, because this update does affect you.
Similarly, if you have a website in WordPress and you have used a plugin, like WP touch to serve up different versions of your pages on mobile versus desktop. Then this update will also affect you because those mobile pages are what Google is going to index, and not the desktop version of your website. Also, if you have a site that uses AMP pages, like Google AMP to have different pages, that Google is going to index is the mobile, non-AMP versions of those pages. Google is not going to index the AMP pages. Those might appear at the top of the search results, In the carousel, but what’s going to get indexed in the regular ten blue links are going to be the mobile, non-AMP version of your website.
The reason why this is happening. So a lot of things have changed n the last 10 years. It’s not that desktop use has decreased, it’s that mobile use has increased to a point where basically everybody has portable access to the internet in their pocket, in their hand, at all the times. So, Google has to respond to that situation. So here’s what you need to do if your site is not mobile-friendly at this point. you need to make that a priority very quickly, and here’s why. At this point, the world is driven by smartphones. If you are not investing in having a mobile-friendly version of your website. Google is just going to the future that you don’t care about your customers as much as all the other businesses on Earth.
That have mobile-friendly sites. As I said, they have been giving people heads up on this for at least three and a half years. That’s more than ample time to get a mobile-friendly site up in the place. So, they figure if you don’t care about it, they shouldn’t either. The other thing that’s of prime importance, since we are talking about is you need to privatize having a site that loads quickly. Google usually does not come out and tell people exactly what goes into their ranking algorithm. It’s very rare that they tip their hand and just outright say some of the things that go into the ranking algorithm. But on the page on the Google website where they are talking about mobile-first indexing, They very clearly state that sites that do not load quickly maybe downranked. They may be devalued versus similar sites that load quickly.
So, if you are in a competitive vertical of any kind, if you are competing for local SEO, if you are on a national scale trying to sell industrial products or service to a bunch of different people, you need to have a fast loading site. That’s just the bottom line because they have said it. They don’t normally just come out and say stuff like this. But, they are saying, if your site doesn’t load fast, and every other website in your competitive market loads quicker than yours, then you are probably going to be downranked. There is a lot of ways that you can do this. You can optimise your site for speed in a lot of different ways. One of the biggest ways is to get on good hosting.
There’s a lot of optimisations that can do from that point. But get on a good web host that prioritizes speed. Again, if you are on a WordPress site, you can get with hosts like Kinsta or WP engine that prioritize speed. And, the third thing that you should do is make sure that the information on your mobile site and your desktop site are the same. Google is going to be looking at the mobile version of your web pages. The pages on your site should match the information that’s on the desktop version. If you have less information on the mobile versions of those pages, then that’s something to look at and reevaluate.
There’s another excerpt that I found very interesting from the page on Google’s site about mobile-first indexing. So they said it’s not automatically a thing where you are going to get downranked. Depending on the things, if your website has the most relevant content for that search query. Meaning, the things that people type in – if your page answers – the search query – the best out of everybody else, then they might still choose to show that at the top of search rankings. Even if it’s slow loading, even if it’s not mobile-friendly. But we would not put too much faith in that. Because in any competitive category, there’s going to be a lot of content. The chances are very high in any competitive industry or market that somebody else is going to have a page that answers those questions as good as your page or better. If anybody wants to rank their website, these are the things that I would prioritize in this order.
1. making sure that you have the most relevant content for the search query that you are trying to rank for. Meaning, if somebody types in a search phrase, make sure that your content for that page – your target page – is the best in the class of anybody else in your category. Then the second priority: make sure that your website is mobile-friendly. Because again, Google is going to do a mobile-first index. Meaning they are indexing the mobile version of those pages first. And, they are going to give priority to mobile pages over desktop. Third and equally important: make sure that the site loads quickly.
The reason for this is, a lot of people are on mobile. They are on their phone: they are not at their desk in their office. So a lot of people are just out in the street out and about. Everybody’s got a phone. Not everybody’s data is personal. So that’s why speed is a priority. Make sure you’re on a host that prioritizes site speed. Don’t get that $5 a month hosting. Spend a little bit more to get on a web host that prioritize speed, and that has a good time to first byte. And, the last thing we would say is to make sure that you have structured data on these pages.
This is a part of a separate thing, where Google is putting and building out the knowledge graph or the entity graph. Make sure that your structure data – your schema or your microformats data – matches on mobile and desktop. If you have a mobile-friendly website that is a responsive design, and you use one code base for both the desktop and the mobile version, and it just rearranges the content to be mobile-friendly, then you are in good shape, because you going to have the same structured data markup. If you don’t know what structured data is, it’s hidden markup that tells you a little bit more about your entity.
All kinds of things can be entities, whether its a person, a company, a thing, an idea, a country. Google is moving toward this system. This is a whole other discussion about the entity graph. But just making sure that all the data from your desktop site and your mobile site match, including the structure data. In most cases, it takes care of itself. The only time that should be worried, is if you have either different web addresses for the mobile versions of your pages, or if you are using some sort of plugin or app to serve up different versions of those pages. To close it out, if you have an SEO question that you would like to see our answer, go ahead and put in the question that you would like to see us.
Back in October 2017, Google announced that sites were being tested their mobile-first index. So, what does that mean? While at present Google currently ranks your website based on the desktop version. So, this takes into consideration the technical structure, the user experience it provides in the content that exists within it essentially with the mobile-first index. This switches it around. So, your ranks are we based on the mobile version as a prime review when will the mobile-first index rollout. Well in short now, as mentioned, Google we are testing sites in the index back in October 2017.
And, they have recently confirmed that more sites are being moved over which is just a clear sign of them being happy with the results of the test in terms of when this will be completed as there’s no confirmation. it would be no surprise if the majority of the websites have been moved over by the end of 2018, in terms of preparing for the mobile-first index. There are three main areas you want to focus on website speed content and your technical elements, the mobile-first index is a step for Google to improve the mobile user experience that they provide and speed plays a big part in this user experience puzzle. So, it’s no surprise that Google announced the speed update which is due to roll out in June 2018.
And, this will affect the worst culprits when it comes to mobile site speed. What you want to do is ensure you are providing an optimal mobile site speed of your site using tools that are available to you such as Google Analytics. Google’s page speed insights and other third-party resources such as Pingdom and web page test. You also want to consider other mobile configurations that may be available to you. So accelerated mobile pages and progressive web apps in terms of content it’s very important for the mobile-first index that critical content at least remains the same to maintain rankings.