A Showcase of Website Speed For Google Ranking Advantage

Mark Heath photoI am nearing completion of a major redevelopment of the Spaldwick village website, to demonstrate the ‘art of the possible’ in terms of website speed and responsiveness. With Google changing its search engine ranking priorities, the days of slow, bloated websites are thankfully coming to an end.

I first launched the website for the Cambridgeshire village of Spaldwick back in July 2003. This was just before ADSL broadband came to the village, following my successful local campaign in partnership with the Broadband Champion of Alconbury. Over the years, the site has been through several iterations as technologies and user behaviour have changed.

Screenshot of Spaldwick websiteIn anticipation of two major developments in 2021, I decided to bring the Spaldwick website up to date, with the very latest speed-enhancing technologies and design approaches.

Firstly, as described in my article The Increasing Importance of Website Speed and Simplicity, Google is introducing a new ranking factor in its search engine results this year – user experience – as measured by Google’s so-called ‘Core Web Vitals’. So, Google will reward fast sites.

Secondly, ultrafast Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) – offering download speeds up to 910 Mbps – comes to the village this year.

For more information, read my article Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) Coming to Spaldwick in Cambridgeshire as Part of Openreach Pilot. I want to ensure that the website provides a showcase to villagers of what is possible in terms of website responsiveness.

Best practices with web development have changed substantially over the years. As well as website speed becoming a critical factor, experience on mobile devices is becoming extremely important, with mobile devices now accounting for more website visits than desktop devices on many websites. As described in my article The Changing Significance of Mobile Devices For Websites, back in January 2014, mobile phones accounted for less than 10% of visitors to my Increase Broadband Speed website. In January 2021, mobiles accounted for about two-thirds (65.1%) of visits.

Website performance assessment showing 100%Google has provided a very useful tool – called PageSpeed Insights – which quantifies the ‘Core Web Vitals’ performance of web pages. Google’s tool measures loading performance, responsiveness and visual stability.

I am delighted that the Spaldwick website now rates very highly for both mobile devices and desktops.

Achievement of near-perfect scores is no mean feat and takes a significant amount of dedication and technical knowledge. However, I think it is well worth making a website as efficient as it possibly can be for the benefit of visitors to the site.

Development of the Spaldwick website has involved:

  • the use of ultrafast, dedicated web hosting (with an average server load of only 3% of maximum possible load)
  • the introduction of a new, best-in-class ‘lightweight’ premium WordPress theme (determined from an extended evaluation of several candidates)
  • the introduction of the best WordPress website builder, with a reputation for clean and lean code
  • an increased focus on the website experience on mobile devices
  • the removal of many WordPress plugins (with bloated code) to leave a core set of six critical plugins
  • upgrading PHP to PHP7.4
  • the removal of Google Fonts (which are so prevalent today) and the use of system fonts built into devices themselves
  • image optimisation, including the use of next-generation image formats such as Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG)
  • advanced server caching and browser caching
  • the elimination of so-called ‘render blocking’ resources (JavaScript and CSS), which is critical to mobile performance
  • the removal of unnecessary CSS and JavaScript.

Over the coming months, I will be launching commercial sites for businesses in Cambridgeshire using these technologies to deliver significant online competitive advantage.

If you currently run a website, I strongly recommend that you review how well it delivers a fast experience, particularly for users on mobile devices. If you would like help improving the performance and speed of your own website, please contact me. It could be a great time to redevelop your website to gain competitive advantage in Google rankings as well as delighting your online visitors with an enhanced experience.


Other pages you may be interested in:

Website Advice and Development  |  The Changing Significance of Mobiles For Websites  |  The Increasing Importance of Website Speed |  Seizing the Opportunities From Chromakey Video Capabilities  |  Photography to Stand Out Online