Google PageSpeed Service for WordPress

Page Speed Matters for User Experience and Google Search Results, Now More Than Ever

Page Speed Matters
Page Speed Matters for User Experience and Google Search Results

Here is a short tale on how we stumbled up Google PageSpeed Service for WordPress.

On Aug 1st of 2013,  WordPress 3.6  was released to the world and as a result, those who upgraded as a best practice, quickly found that a number of WordPress Plugins are not currently compatible with this latest WordPress release. Hopefully the popular wordpress plugins will catch up soon, depending on the development  effort required to upgrade and the business benefits of doing so.

Why Upgrade to WordPress 3.6 You Ask?

Given all the effort, why go through the hassle to update your blog or website to WordPress 3.6? To add website security necessary to avoid the very real and prevalent risk of being hacked, especially today when WordPress hacking is a widely popular global activity. It like updating any software to close security vulnerabilities as they are discovered and exploited. The fact that there is a bunch of new, cool features doesn’t stink either.

Wordpress3.6 Upgrade released 01 Aug 2013
WordPress3.6 Upgrade released 01 Aug 2013

In this recent update to  Wordpress 3.6, we found that the WordPress Page Cache Plugins that we were using to enhance website page download speed turned out to not be compatible and therefore had to be deactivated. I am certain that over time, it will be updated to work with WordPress 3.6, but for the time being, after not finding an obvious alternative supporting 3.6,t the search for  other creative solutions began in an effort to the address the WordPress Page Speed performance usability and SEO penalties.

For WordPress, performance is a hosting aspect that must be managed and some hosts are well configured for WordPress hosting and others that are not. Once can always host on a dedicated server, but as you hit traffic peaks, you don’t want to loose visitors due to performance degradation.

WordPress and other Content Management systems can experience performance  issues due to demands of building pages dynamically on the server, requiring calls to the database to creating the pages dynamically on the sever involving execution of an interpreted language (PHP) against a SQL database (MySQL). literally building html on the fly before  serving the pages to the users web browser. Geek speak aside, this can slow down a website significantly.

The same performance issues apply other content management systems such as Drupal, Joomla and Concrete5, all implemented with PHP and MySQL. unlike a statics website which in which the web server simply serves up the same, pre-existing html, css, javascript and related files each time they are requested by a user. The only time this changes is when the websites are manual updated which for many/most websites, this is the case.

Why should anyone care about how quickly your websites pages loa? First and foremost, because it impacts user experience. Visitors navigating to a website will not wait more than a few seconds for a page to load before moving on to the next site, you know, those competitors?

User experience leads us to the second reason why page speed matters and that is rankings in the Google search results. The Google mission is to rank the pages  that will provider the user with the best experience and therefore, evaluating webpage load time as one factor used by the Google ranking algorithm to determine its search results order. We can only speculate to what degree this is the case as the algorithm is a closely guarded proprietary information and Googles “secret sauce.” Each position in improvement in search rank can have significant positive impact on any business.

The WordPress plugin approach to address page speed performance is an approach by its very nature creates an additional security risk as each WordPress plugin is a potential point of attack. Like the WordPress system and WordPress themes that get patched and updated, plugins get patches and must be kept up to date. To be practical, that is not to say that using plugins for adding rich functionality is bad. Plugins make WordPress rock.

However, plugins use should be evaluated in value provided versus acceptable risk. Therefore, a non-plugin based approach for to address an aspect of user experience and search ranking  can be beneficial both from a performance and security perspective.

Enter Google PageSpeed Service for WordPress

There are many WordPress plugins to improve page load speed of WordPress websites. Google PageSpeed Service for WordPress offers a non-plugin alternative.

That is not to say that Google Page Speed Services is limited to WordPress, just that it offers a non-plugin based approach to improve WordPress site page load speed.

You Had Me at Limited Free Trial

After watching the quick Google PageSpeed Service promotional video, I was ready to sign on the dotted line and Give the Google PageSpeed Service a whirl to see how it performs relative to plugin approaches used in the past that tend to cache WordPress pages and posts as html files to improve the page load time.

Sign Up Now for the Google PageSpeed Service

Clicking the big blue Sign Up Now button brings up the following form:

Google PageSpeed Service signup form
Google PageSpeed Service signup form

As you can see from the Goolge PageSpeed Services signup form, the use of the PageSpeed Service via limited trial is currently invite-only. So I filled out the form and received the following confirmation of form submission.

Google PageSpeed Service signup form submission confirmation.
Google PageSpeed Service signup form submission confirmation.

I appreciate the fact that Google will contact me within 24 hours, which I assume will be by email. It is unclear if all submissions / applications submitted to the Google PageSpeed Service limited trial will be accepted and if not, what the selection criteria will be.

I am hopeful that eBizROI.com will be accepted into the limited trial and that we will get to test drive the Google PageSpeed Service for WordPress to compare this with WordPress Cache plugins tested in the past. This post will be updated if/when we get confirmation of accepted into the limited trial, along with our review of how the service performs relative to existing plugins.

Stay tuned and be sure to leave a comment if you have any experience with the Google PageSpeed Service for WordPress or any other performance sensitive, content management systems or even static websites.

Given what is at stake and the importance of pages that load quickly, we are hoping that this service can not only improve eBizROI.com user experience, but enhance our listing in the Google search results as a secondary outcome which would truly be a win-win.

Update 2:23 pm (~2 hrs after submission) – Acceptance Email from Google 🙂

Google PageSpeep Service trial signup acceptance
Google PageSpeep Service trial signup acceptance

Like any other self respecting technologist, what do I do next? Of course turn to YoutTube  for instructions on How to Setup Your Website with Google PageSpeed Service.

Terms of Service Anxiety

You know those pesky check boxes that you have to actively click to accept the terms of service always give me a bit of anxiety, especially for those with a trial period will become a paid service at a date TBD according to Google. Here is a small excerpt of the TOS which you should read before starting the trial and no, I am not a lawyer, just a business person who wants to understand the legal implication of my obligations.

Section 9: Fees

Google will issue an electronic bill to you for all charges accrued. Fees are solely based on Google’s measurements of your use of the Services and may include monthly fees. Google’s determination is final. The fees for the Services are set forth at https://developers.google.com/speed/docs/pss/pricing.

When you click through to the pricing page, you will see that their is no information on time table for when the PageSpeed Service converts to a paid service or what the pricing model will be but that you will get 30 days notice, so make sure that you are paying attention if your intention is to opt out when the PageSpeed Service becomes paid.

Google PageSpeed Service Enabled
Google PageSpeed Service Enabled

I was so excited … that is until I clicked the link, just begging to be clicked, the Run speed test results. Click here (hey Matt, look no anchor text 🙂 or the image above to see actual results of the initial speed test, including a video simulation. Let’s just say that you might be surprised.

 

 

 

About

Rick Noel is an experienced digital marketer enabling businesses and organizations to grow through the Internet, while maximizing marketing ROI (Return On Investment). Rick is the CEO and Co-Founder of eBiz ROI, Inc., a full-service digital marketing agency located in Ballston Lake, NY.

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