At the beginning of the year, Google announced that as of 21ST April 2015, mobile friendliness would become a ranking factor. Sites which weren’t optimised for mobile would become less visible on searches from mobile devices, in an effort to help users ‘find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimised for their devices’.
Now we’re past the April 21st deadline and the dust has settled, it seems appropriate to take stock and talk about an integral part of mobile SEO that often gets forgotten: speed. For me, this is one of the most fascinating aspects of working with mobile (and responsive design in particular). Having worked on a few mobile projects as of late, I think there’s real value in discussing the quick wins you can make which will hopefully make your website quicker on both on mobile and desktop.
- Do you Really Need that Image? Or…Do you Really Need that Image that Big?
We’re currently in the middle of a content-marketing boom and as such, there’s a lot of love for bold, vivid imagery. Unfortunately, the downside of using big, bold images is the file size and its impact on speed. If you’re considering loading a lot of imagery on your website, make sure to follow these three steps:
- Optimise your file size and then upload – don’t use CSS to resize
- Use an image compressor to get the most out of your file with minimum file size
- Where possible, use clever browser caching on your images.
- Gzip Compression is your Friend
Even if you’re not technically minded, learning about the various options you have available for compressing resources on your website is well worth your time. By enabling Gzip compression, you can reduce the size of your transferred response by 90%: As a marketer, the important bit here is that you can chop down your site speed massively. If you use an Apache server (56% of the web does) then mod_deflate is your new best friend.
- Cut down Unnecessary CSS
There’s something massively pleasing about cutting down unnecessary CSS. By removing unused lines of CSS you’re reducing the filesize of your CSS file and if you’re using a variety of CSS files, you can easily shave off 100kb+ just through this simple clean-up process. If you’re using WordPress, be sure to make use of the dequeue/enqueue stylesheet functions and load up child versions of your new, reduced CSS files. Otherwise you’ll lose these changes when you update your parent theme.
- Identify the Big Wins
When I run my blog through Pagespeed Insights I have an unpassed rule about a 1kb image. Sure, leaving this image technically unoptimised means that I fail the Optimize images rule, but realistically, it’s only 1kb. When you check page speed, clear through the big wins first, then focus on the small stuff. It can be really tempting to try and clear those easy elements first, but if they’re not making a huge impact to your sitespeed then don’t worry about them just yet.
- Use a Caching Plugin
If you’re a WordPress user then rejoice, there are a ton of great caching plugins available to you. Using a caching plugin means your users are served more lightweight versions of your pages, speeding up your website. My personal favourite WordPress caching plugin is WP Super Cache, just because it comes with so many great options out of the box, however there are a variety on the market.