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Load time, static site generators & SEO: How we lowered our own site’s load time by 74%
Google's upcoming transition to mobile-first indexing, combined with its raised expectation of mobile site performance, should convince site owners to consider static site generation. Contributor Chris Liversidge explains.
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.
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.
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.
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