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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…




Google has just released a new tool that will help webmasters speed up their page load time.

Google’s new Page Speed Service takes many of the optimizations outlined in the company’s Page Speed Online API and applies it to sites automatically.

It’s a turnkey online service that automatically takes care of the optimizations by rewriting pages and delivering them to users using Google’s servers.

The tool works by having users point the CNAME for their URL at Google’s own servers. From there, Google can do the optimizations and rewrite pages as needed.

On the Google Code blog, Google says that it has seen speed improvements from 25% to 60% on some sites. Google has a gallery and a comparison test that users can try themselves.

Right now, the tool is only available to a limited set of webmasters, but you can request access by filling out this form. Google says that pricing will be competitive.

It’s rare that Google rolls out plans for a pay service, but this is a case where we think it makes sense. Would you be interested in using Google’s services to automatically optimize your website page load?

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Google has released Page Speed Online, a Google Labs project that analyzes any website for its speed and gives suggestions on how to improve it.

The experimental tool is straightforward to use; just type in a website and Google will come back with suggestions for how to improve that website’s speed. The suggestions are ranked as either High, Medium or Low. In addition, Google displays which rules of thumb a website is already following. Each website also gets an over score out of 100.

Here are a few examples of site issues that Google says might be slowing down your site:

  • High Priority: Enable Keep-Alive and leverage browser caching.
  • Medium Priority: Combine images into CSS sprites and minimize redirects.
  • Low Priority: Minify JavaScript and remove query strings from static resources.

While speed analysis tools have been around for years, Page Speed Online has a neat little trick; it can also analyze mobile websites for their performance. And rather than using the same set of suggestions for desktop websites, Google has a fresh set of suggestions for mobile site optimization.

Google has been consistently launching tools like Site Performance and its page speed Apache module in order to help speed up the web. The search giant has made speed one of its core missions because a faster web equals more revenue for Google.

Which of Google’s rules for speed do you still have to implement? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Eole

More About: Google, Google Page Speed, Google Page Speed Online, page speed, Page Speed Online

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