Will You Use Google’s New Page Speed Service?

Tweet

Google has announced their new Page Speed Service. In essence, it’s a combination of proxy servers, Content Delivery Networks (CDN), and web page optimizers which Google states will produce speed gains of 25-60% for most websites.

The service is being offered to a limited set of web developers at no cost. After the trial period, Page Speed will be released to everyone and, although there are no details, “pricing will be competitive” (source: Official Google Code blog).

To use the service, it’s simply a matter of registering and adding a new DNS CNAME record to your domain. As well as providing a gzipped proxy server for static files, the service can also rewrite your pages for web performance best-practices:

  • CSS files can be combined, minimized, and moved to the HTML head
  • JavaScript files can be combined and minimized using Google’s Closure Compiler
  • images can scaled and optimized

All features are optional so you can, for example, disable the Closure Compiler if it breaks your JavaScript code.

Google provides a page test comparison service at www.webpagetest.org/compare. It estimated that SitePoint.com’s home page would enjoy a 13% speed increase — I suspect that’s primarily owing to JavaScript file concatenation.

Tremendous or Troublesome?

Depending on the price, the Page Speed Service could be ideal for inefficient static pages running on slow servers. It may be more cost-effective than spending money on further development or hosting.

Unfortunately, there are a few downsides:

  • Bare domains are not supported, i.e. you must use www.domain.com rather than domain.com. That’s a shame — I’ve been dropping the “www” from my sites.
  • HTTPS pages are not supported.
  • Flash, streamed audio, streamed video and files over 50MB are not supported.
  • POST requests greater than 2MB are not supported.
  • You’re unlikely to experience significant speed gains on web applications running server-side code.
  • Domains hosted on Blogger, Google Sites or Google App Engine are not supported.

Speaking as a web developer, the service makes me slightly uncomfortable. Like many, I ensure my sites are optimized by combining files, minimizing the code, reducing HTTP requests and using CDNs where possible. For Page Speed to be attractive, I wouldn’t want to lose control, configuration would have to be easy, I wouldn’t want my code to be rewritten, and the price would have to be cheaper than upgraded hosting.

Risk is another factor which needs to be assessed. Will Page Speed offer additional redundancy or two points of failure? I suspect it will depend on the quantity of static vs generated content on your website.

Finally, are you willing to hand your website keys to Google? Their services are more reliable than most, but this is a new product which could experience teething problems. Conspiracy theorists will also see this as another step toward Google’s global domination. Google Search considers page speed factors so could the company become an all-powerful web host which undermines sites not using their network?

Technically, Google Page Speed an amazing solution which should boost the download speeds for most sites — especially those which are inefficiently coded. However, I’m not convinced many good web developers will adopt it. And would bad developers understand the service or care enough to recommend it?

Time will tell if Google’s Page Speed Service is a success. Please let us know your opinions…

Free book: Jump Start HTML5 Basics

Grab a free copy of one our latest ebooks! Packed with hints and tips on HTML5's most powerful new features.

  • http://www.itmitica.com/en IT Mitică

    Sounds interesting. But I have some reserves.

    I guess the impact would have been bigger a few years back. Then, faster alternative delivery routes could have helped with slower connections.

    On the other hand, Google has already taken control from us using CDNs in SERPs. It’s already a little too much, controlling the results already and now wishing to control the content also.

    Lately, it seems like search engines are trying to push their own agenda in web dev in order to ease their work. Some unfortunate shortcuts at the expense of the web dev in general.

    I hope the bigger search engines war it’s not the next in line, after browsers war, to make the web dev more convoluted then needed.

    • stefan burt

      Control is the biggest factor here, didn’t google recently announce that a page’s load time was going to be a component of pages rank? If this is true, I can’t help but feel slightly cynical that google are providing a service to avoid an issue they’ve generated, and one which could potentially hurt your sites changes of being found on google.

      Do get me wrong page load time is very important especially with the massive growth of the mobile internet optimisation is vital tool for a fast and heath site, but to hand over your site to google dns and all is very big ask in my view.

    • stefan burt

      Control is the biggest factor here, didn’t google recently announce that a page’s load time was going to be a component of pages rank? If this is true, I can’t help but feel slightly cynical that google are providing a service to avoid an issue they’ve generated, and one which could potentially hurt your sites changes of being found on google.

      Do get me wrong page load time is very important especially with the massive growth of the mobile internet optimisation is vital tool for a fast and heath site, but to hand over your site to google dns and all is very big ask in my view.

      • http://twitter.com/craigbuckler Craig Buckler

        Absolutely. It’s possible your website could be penalized by Google Search because it’s not on their Page Speed network. I doubt that’s Google’s intention and download speed does not have a huge impact on PageRank, but it certainly provides the potential for doing evil.

      • http://blog.avangelistdesign.com Andy Parker

        I suppose it all comes down to IP reputation doesn’t it? If you have a poor IP rep you could be safe thinking that moving it all to Google is going to mean it’s pretty solid.

        I’ve just signed up to Amazon S3 to see whether moving a site will improve it’s performance, seems like Google are doing a similar service only stripped down further.

  • http://twitter.com/craigbuckler Craig Buckler

    The “www” can still be used, but the default is http://domain.com/

    To me, the main benefit is readability and a shorter URLs. After all, many websites publish their address without a sub-domain. I doubt there’s a technical or SEO benefit but it’s something I intend to discuss on SitePoint soon.

  • Mosa Armand

    Thanks for the info. I kinda slept on this one. I could use this tool from Google.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_L5AVXSH7OFHI5YSAJYCO2GGCDU Savannah Hogan

      I just paid $22.87 for an iPad2-64GB and my girlfriend loves her Panasonic Lumix GF 1 Camera that we got for $38.76 there arriving tomorrow by UPS. I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $675 which only cost me $62.81 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from, CoolCent. com

  • Dan Stephenson

    I am not sold on this new service yet.

  • http://twitter.com/Kabelkultur Kabelkultur

    Tested it and our site loads slower with it, so thanks google but no thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/aniefiok.ukang Aniefiok Ukang

    This is really great

  • Jan-Willem van den Hoek

    Well let me comment on this as a worried website visitor:

    Could it be that this is yet another way Google tries to trace my every move on The Internet? Personally I’m sick and tired of that! Most other ways I can more or less avoid (though very hard and having to become pretty paranoid) – but this one seems to me like absolutely unavoidable: as soon as try to contact a website of one of you guys I’m FORCED to pass through the pearly gates of Google hell… :-(

    Personally: I DON’T WANT THAT (and I gladly pay the harsh price of waiting like “forever”)
    @sitepoint: 13% of the less than 5 seconds (the time it took your homepage to load about 1 minute ago)? That’s not worth the loss of what is left of my online privacy…

    Just my 1.74 cts

  • http://www.pokergosh.com The PokerGosh

    Why not do manually all the things that are proposed to the page speed section of Webmaster Tools ?
    I think that this should do the trick for speed…