Load time, static site generators & SEO: How we lowered our own site’s load time by 74%

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Google has raised the bar on site load times consistently over the last decade, and the upcoming transition to mobile-first indexing, combined with its rising expectations of mobile site performance, should be a clear warning sign to site owners.

Site owners generally, however, seem not to be listening.

Unfortunately, based on our analysis of 10,000+ mobile web domains, we found that most mobile sites don’t meet this bar: The average load time for mobile sites is 19 seconds over 3G connections.

DoubleClick research published in September 2016

At our company, we have been experimenting over the last year with static site generation. Our tests on our own site are aimed at allowing us to assess the challenges facing site owners, to understand the scope of opportunity and potential for performance improvement, and also to explore the practical limitations in content management — one of the key criticisms of static site generation.

Our site, QueryClick.com, was a small, fairly well-optimized B2B site, but it averaged ~6.99 second load time in the month prior to our deployment of static site generation (July 2016), dropping to ~1.8 seconds in the month following. That represented a load time reduction of 74.29 percent, despite some server response issues experienced during the period we were actively developing the site.

One month before and after switching to a static site generation infrastructure.

We performed further server optimization improvements over the year, reaching our sub-one-second mobile device target even while testing the impact of less efficient elements driven by JavaScript.

Yes, we know! We didn’t even use sprites, gzipping, or other such techniques — which highlights the impact of a platform-first approach to solving the page speed problem.

A platform-first approach to page speed

I’ve written before about the varying levels of importance of the different aspects of page speed on SEO and about how Google’s algorithm employs data about SERP bounce-backs (when users bounce back to its SERPs after losing patience with a slow-loading site). But it’s worth making the point again as we head to a mobile-first world: server response times and the critical render path event (the point at which everything in the initial device viewport is rendered) are key to delivering high-performance SEO, especially for enterprise-level sites.

[Read the full article on Search Engine Land.]

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Chris Liversidge has over twelve years web development experience & is the founder of QueryClick Search Marketing, a UK agency specialising in SEO, PPC and Conversion Rate Optimisation strategies that deliver industry-leading ROI.


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