The New Website Launch Checklist: Page Speed and Mobile are Tops
By Tad Miller
Mar 30, 2015
More Articles by Tad
It was ten years ago. I was on the verge of buying my first house. The house inspector was doing the walk-through on our new house that had just been built. He had so many years of experience in home construction and knew exactly where to look and what to look at…I had no idea where to even start.
I distinctly remember him pointing to the corner of the ceiling and saying to us, “That row of dry wall screws on the ceiling looks fine now, but it’s going to have nail pops in about a year…” I looked that section of ceiling up and down. It looked perfect and I barely had any understanding of what a nail pop was. I was trying to figure out how to even ask the home builder how to fix something that looked perfect (we opted not to ask them to fix it — because it wasn’t broken yet).
About one year into owning the house…this happened:
Launching a New Website is Like Buying a New Home
Fast forward ten years, and I’m the expert and my clients have hired web developers to build brand new websites for them. They’re asking me, as an SEO, to look their websites over before they launch to make sure nothing is wrong and that they don’t negatively impact their rankings.
As an agency, we’ve written and spoken pretty extensively about steps to take in a new website launch:
- 301 Redirects: Formatting Bulk Redirects In Four Quick Steps
- 5 SEO Tips For Launching A New Website
- Top Nine Tips For Website Redesign SEO
- 16 Web Design Essentials You Need for SEO Success
But SEO is different in 2015. Today, speed and mobile are some of the first things we look at when evaluating a new website. Depending on what resource you look at. Mobile search is anywhere from 29% of searches to possibly more than 50% of searches these days.
In today’s search usage, mobile search problems and page load time are frequently intertwined. But Google gives you the tools now to see those problems with the Google Page Speed Insights tool and gives you links to all of the steps you need to fix both page speed problems and mobile usability problems.
The new site launch checklist (with Google PageSpeed Insights) now includes:
- Enabling Gzip Compression
- Leveraging Browser Caching
- Using Legible Font Sizes for Mobile Devices
- Configuring a Viewport to control how a site looks on a mobile device
Perhaps the easiest, but most overlooked solution to improving page load speed on both mobile and desktop devices is image file size. It’s also the most significant problem effecting mobile page speed according to Google:
We have seen that a major problem for websites to be slow especially on mobile devices is not optimizing your images for mobile devices. So what we’ve seen is a lot of websites they still serve the same high-resolution heavy images that are supposed to be served for the desktop users. They serve the same thing to mobile users as well and this happens in the majority of cases. This is one of the major problems in making websites slower on mobile devices. So that is a major challenge.
Site speed has been incorporated into Google’s ranking algorithms since 2010, yet you wouldn’t know it looking at the websites we’ve seen in the last few years. Almost none of them have compressed images and they frequently have huge image files on every page. These sites typically launch this way, unless someone asks someone like us to look at them first.
What Should You Do About These Issues Before Launch?
The good news is that they are very easy problems to find. You can run your development site URLs through the Google Page Speed Insights (provided your security settings on the development server don’t block them). It can be the equivalent of your home inspector for your website.
Find the problems and then ask your developer to fix them before you launch your new website. At a minimum, insist on image compression. It’s free with tools like tinypng.com or tinyjpeg.com. Otherwise, you are going to end up with the website equivalent of a “nail pop” and the constant reminder of “I told you so…”