Having a slow site can be a real headache, and unlike many issues it isn’t something that can be solved with a single change. And in some cases, a website can be so “heavy” that the only solution is to pay much, much more for better server resources.
Impact on SEO Performance
Something that many people don’t think about is that Google really wants to give their search engine users the best possible experience. SEO revolves around making your website and page contents as relevant as possible to the searches that potential visitors make on Google. There are many factors, including keyword density, inbound/outbound links (authority), and how well your content is formatted for easy reading.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that one of the major factors in SEO performance is your site speed. Not only how long it takes for your website to load, but also how well the page itself performs when interacted with. You’ve probably noticed how many news sites, with all their embedded advertisements and autoplaying videos, are actually difficult to scroll around without everything appearing jittery. Obviously this does not provide a great experience to visitors, many of whom will immediately leave rather than wait for the website to “settle” and allow them to scroll around the page.
So when Google’s bot crawls your page, not only are they taking the page contents into account, but also how long it takes for the page to load, and how quickly the website responds to interaction. You can find proof of this data in Google Search Console, by visiting the “Speed” tab under the “Experimental” section in Search Console.
You can read more about how SEO is impacted by site speed on Yoast’s page.
On July 1st, Google switched their bot to emulate a mobile device when indexing pages. This means that Google is looking at the mobile version of your site when indexing.
Not only does this mean that they look at the mobile content of your site, they also are looking at the site speed as a mobile user. While desktop computers may be able to optimize page loading and performance, most mobile devices don’t have the same power. So while your website may perform well enough on your computer, a mobile device can take several times longer to complete the same actions.
What does AMP Look Like?
AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. Very simply put, an AMP is a duplicate of a page on your website, with almost everything except relevant content cut out. It’s very similar to the “Reader mode” that most mobile devices have. On most websites with AMP implemented, you can discover it simply by adding /amp/ to the end of the URL. If you’re not already on a mobile device, you can click here to load the AMP version of this blog post.
Google AMP Page Caching
One of the major advantages of implementing AMP pages is that Google will cache the entire AMP versions of your pages in their cloud, so it can be served extremely quickly when a search result for your website comes up.
AMP Page Limitations
It might sound like an easy solution to fix all of your mobile site speed issues, but because AMP pages are pretty much by definition very light versions of your website, many features you have on your site may not be available. This means:
- No on-page advertising
- Limited styling
If most of your revenue is from on-page advertisements, or you have extra scripted functionality (i.e a forums or social interactions) then you may not want to use AMP. AMP works best for mostly static content like blogs & recipes.