Why we never evaluate mobile speed with Think-With-Google test results.

WordPress Mobile Speed

Updated: September 2019


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Google updated their Think-With-Google testmysite tool. We thought we’d check it out and see if it gave us any valid speed information.

Previously 3 seconds was Good – now it’s Poor!

We’ve run a bunch of test on TestMySite tool – including Google.com URL itself. https://Google.com/ produced a 1.1 second load time. Guess they’re just “average,” too, like us. What a relief!

Pagepipe-ebooks.com – our store – got an “average” rating also at 2 seconds.

Is this test lame or what?

Source: Google’s published speed groupings are:

Fast
Under 1 second

Average
1 second to 2.5 seconds

Slow
2.5 seconds and up

So what’s a 10-second site? Extra slow? Man, that’s worse than extra slow. And how about a horrible 25-second page load?  XXS (extra-extra slow)? This test is an embarrassment – a misleading sham.

Their speed test said our page loaded in 2 seconds flat. The contradictory report said, “2.5 seconds.” Which is it then? Make up your mind!

How much money did Google spend creating this wonderful web gadget?

Face it. Very few sites are under 1 second. Even Google couldn’t do it on their model homepage. Perhaps only 1 or 2 percent of the web can make a less-than-1-second claim. This bogus test crushes the spirits of ordinary site owners. Do common WordPress sites have unlimited resources to throw at speed performance? Hardly. And if you are “1 second exactly” are you “fast” or “average”? They say both in their groupings. Confusing weirdness.

Wake up! Speed does NOT affect SEO directly. It affects user experience. UX indirectly affects metrics indicating user intent.

User intent is a major factor in search engine optimization and conversion optimization.

The speed test most professionals prefer is webpagetest.org for testing speed – and TTFB. That service is also owned by Google – but doesn’t wear their branding. It’s open source and free. Pingdom is valuable, too. Other tests we steer clear of for a variety of reasons. All tests give different results.

Tests like Google PageSpeed Insights are bogus, too. Making their suggested changes may change your score. They definitely won’t change your speed. And, never improves SEO page ranking. Wasted time and energy.

All Google’s suggestions for “improving” our PagePipe store ruins our site’s ecommerce features completely. It’s faster! Big deal. It’s broken. No sales – but dang it’s fast. Don’t trust the recommendations of any speed score.

Speed scores are irrelevant. Only load time in milliseconds and page weight in kilobytes or megabytes are what count for mobile. But isn’t perceived speed good enough on mobile? Nope. The weight loading behind the scenes consumes mobile data allowances. Feature bloat costs mobile users money.

What are the real averages not the ideal averages? We don’t live in a Utopian world using WordPress. How bad is bad?

So how good is good-enough speed?

MachMatrics has answers based on 2018 Internet data:

What is the average load time?
8.66 seconds.

What’s recommended?
Under 3 seconds.


What’s the average webpage size?
1.88 megabytes (M)

What’s recommended?
Under 500 kilobytes (k)


What’s the average number of resources?
115.6 requests

What’s recommended?
Under 50.


What’s the average server delay? (TTFB – time to first byte)
2.11 seconds

What’s recommended?
Under 1.3 seconds


“A one-second delay in webpage time equals a 7% reduction in conversions, 11% fewer page views and 16% reduction in customer satisfaction.”

“We found a clear correlation between a faster time to first byte (TTFB) and a higher search engine rank. While it could not be outright proven that decreasing TTFB directly caused an increasing search rank, there was enough of a correlation to at least warrant some further discussion of the topic.” – source

Those are NOT our recommendations for mobile devices. Ours are:

Load time
2 seconds or less


Webpage size
Under 1 megabyte


Requests
Under 25


Time to first byte (TTFB)
Over 1 second is terrible.
Less than 1 second is marginal.
500-millisecond TTFB is good.
100 to 200 milliseconds is great.


Speed is the unofficial gatekeeper to your content. – source

What were the Google-test official recommendations for PagePipe store?

  1. Serve images in next-gen formats
    JPEG 2000, JPEG XR, and WebP are idealistic image formats. The difference they make is insignificant. And some browsers can’t even render the files.
  2. Avoid an excessive DOM size
    A joke? Beyond the skills of most web designers.
  3. Eliminate render-blocking resources
    See reference
  4. Properly resize images
    See reference
  5. Minify JavaScript
    See reference
  6. Defer unused CSS
    See reference

Ridiculous!

None of these 6 recommendations make a difference in UX, SEO, or actual speed improvements. Instead, they often break the pages.


AVERAGE RATING: PagePipe is divided on two different hosts. The blog is on PagePipe.com. There is no SSL slowdown on this GoDaddy shared host server. No CDN.

ThinkwithGoogle says, “PagePipe is average.” We call BS. Only 1 percent of the Internet websites load in less than 1 second. That would not include Google’s homepage.

Who owns WebPagetest.org? Uh? Google! Complete load time for Google.com: 3.637 seconds. That’s a major flunk. And they tried to make us feel bad about ourselves. Shame on them. Average? Bah!

http://webpagetest.org/result/190501_12_8ac7a96513e6e476f3155a3de6323b1e/


AVERAGE RATING: PagePipe is divided on two different hosts. The store is on https://PagePipe-ebooks.com. SSL is activated on this BlueHost shared host server. No CDN. HTTPS/SSL handshaking adds 500 milliseconds to a page load.

Now this seems really bad doesn’t it. 2.4 seconds? Perhaps hypocritical. But we advocate Kinsta’s Bryan Jackson and his proposed hierarchy of user speed tolerance. It’s good speed strategy. Entry pages (our blog) need to be under 2 seconds. This is where first impression counts most. It’s why we didn’t use HTTPS/SSL on the blog. We need the 500 millisecond boost in speed.

Viewers hate slow pages.

When people are curious enough to enter our store, they’re more tolerant and wait the extra half second for SSL – but over on BlueHost. They are engaged now. Brian says 3 seconds is the upper limit of speed tolerance. It depends upon the user’s perceived value of the expected content. BlueHost has a Time to First Byte (TTFB) of 1.339 seconds. Wow! Slow server overhead. But free SSL. (Not $70 per year per domain like GoDaddy).

What’s GoDaddy’s TTFB for PagePipe.com? 259 milliseconds. Happiness.


Fixing Think-with-Google’s speed suggestions are practically impossible on a WordPress site. If you pay to have these esoteric changes done, you’ve just wasted good money.

Do yourself a favor and don’t evaluate your site speed with this lame Think-with-Google test. Use WebPagetest.org or Pingdom.com instead. Be kind to yourself and your wallet.

Godspeed—

Steve Teare
performance engineer

Mobile WordPress Speed – without coding!

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