A fast internet experience has always been a priority for developers, but now Google is turning it into a business imperative. In an article recently posted on the Chromium Blog, Google announced it is considering a badge system that will reward fast loading sites and flag sites with typically slow load time.
Users may also be served other performance-related cues, including textual alerts (such as “usually loads slow”) and visual alerts (a color-coded loading indicator for fast and slow sites).
The first phase of the trial will be agnostic to specific devices or network conditions. Google will look at historical load times to identify what makes websites generally slow. In time, Google is planning to implement a personalized version of its method that will identify when a page is likely to be slow for a concrete user based on their device and network conditions.
Google is citing its investment in the quality of user experience as the main driver of this initiative, which is still in trial mode and will be implemented gradually in future Chrome version releases. While the current blog is only a heads up, the Google team is prompting developers to take action now: “Don’t wait to optimize your site,” they write, “to provide the best possible experiences to all users.”
The fact that Google is turning its attention to performance is an important wake-up call, but it actually only serves to cement a truism that has been obvious to performance experts and layman internet users alike: people are no longer willing to accept imperfect internet experiences.
Users have learned to expect and appreciate a seamless experience and will opt out at the slightest sign of latency or faltering load times. In this sense, Google is simply echoing the wishes of its user base. However, when Google sinks its teeth into an issue, it’s generally worthwhile to take heed.
The proposed badging system is expected to do for performance what Google’s SEO practices did for content: normalize it across the board. Google started to implement a speed-based ranking algorithm for mobile searches in July 2018, quickly bringing page speed to the #2 spot on the list of essential SEO ranking factors.
By focusing on speed and using it as a parameter that will determine Google Search results rankings, Google is giving businesses no option but to adhere to its new performance standards. Businesses will be affected directly, and laggards will feel the results of their performance issues on their bottom lines.
Depending on your industry, the effect on the bottom line could be slim to none—or tremendous (for example for e-commerce businesses). It’s one thing knowing that high performing sites engage and retain users better than poorly performing ones, but it’s another thing altogether being relegated to the second search results page for latency—or wearing a shaming Slow Load badge.
So while the implementation timeline for Google’s badge plan is still vague, it’s high time to add load time optimization to your to-do list.
To implement and maintain high performing websites, businesses need to measure, optimize, and monitor performance indicators on an ongoing basis. To get a baseline evaluation of your site’s performance you can use PageSpeed Insights, an online tool that shows speed field data (also called Real User Monitoring or RUM) for your site.
PageSpeed Insights delivers a breakdown of your speed metrics, including initial content display, main content display, speed index and the initial state of client’s CPU inactivity. It also lists suggestions for common optimizations to improve these metrics—like preloading major requests and removing unused CSS—and the effect they will have on load time. You can also use this app to compare your site’s performance to that of your competitors.
Another area you need to pay attention to is your server-side. While getting your website’s nuts and bolts into shape is critical, it won’t solve the problem of underperforming infrastructure. If your architecture is chronically suffering from latency and request timeouts, you’ll need to optimize performance in order to ensure a smooth and consistent experience for your users and latency-sensitive services.
Many businesses solve this problem by over-provisioning their servers, running them at minimal utilization to ensure top performance. The downside, of course, is bloated infrastructure costs that quickly add up and bear down on the company at large.
Innovative cloud and server optimization solutions solve this conflict by increasing both utilization and performance. The Granulate continuous optimization solution approaches the problem by stepping in after workload placement to optimize the kernel and OS in real-time, radically eliminating all bottlenecks. The result is increased utilization and throughput, reduced latency, and improved quality of service.
With Google’s focus on performance, optimizing the operation end-to-end needs to become your top priority. Your business is expected to provide the best possible experience for all users regardless of usage spikes, changing seasonality patterns, or new version releases.
If you’re struggling with anything from server thread scheduling to website font load time—we’d love to help you reach top performance in one click. Don’t hesitate to reach out.