WordPress is the world’s favourite CMS platform with almost 75 million websites using the platform. There’s no denying WordPress made it easier for businesses and individuals to get online and manage a website without coding a custom-built side from scratch. But there’s one complaint WordPress has always struggled to shrug off: that it’s too slow for the demands of modern web users.
WordPress’ speed issues are no secret and, when a significant chunk of the web relies on the platform, they affect everyone in one way or another. This includes Google, the speed-conscious search engine, which is now creating an entire team of engineers to work with WordPress and help it develop a faster ecosystem.
Google wants to make WordPress faster
For many years now, Google has taken it upon itself to make the web faster and better optimised for mobile. Aside from 2015’s big mobile algorithm update, we’ve also got mobile-first indexing in the works and a new page speed update coming up in July this year. Then we have projects like AMP, which is used, backed and promoted by the search giant.
Now, Google is setting its sights on WordPress which powers roughly 30% of all websites, making this partnership a big deal for the entire web.
It’s also a big deal for Google, too, when almost a third of its search results could lead to a WordPress website. Which kind of defeats the whole point of speed-related ranking factors if there’s a systematic issue with a third of the internet.
At this point, we should make it clear that it’s perfectly possible to create and maintain a fast WordPress site. Half of the problem with a tool like WordPress – one that makes a complex technology accessible to the masses – is that it allows people with less knowledge or passion for website performance to create slow sites. That said, even experienced developers will tell you that WordPress’ infrastructure makes managing speed more difficult than a well-built, custom website.
Let’s also remember that WordPress was built as a publishing tool, not as a website builder.
How will Google make WordPress faster?
According to Alberto Medina, Developer Advocate at Google, the search giant is looking to bring the same technology behind Progressive Web Apps to make WordPress faster.
“The web platform has been evolving rapidly in recent years and it continues to evolve as we speak; the bar for web experiences has been raised significantly. This is reflected by all the buzz around the term Progressive Web Apps, which essentially refers to websites (and web apps) built using the latest capabilities supported by the Web platform; things like Service Workers, Push Notifications, identity management, security, etc. Similarly, the evolution of the platform defined by the WordPress ecosystem has being evolving as well at an accelerated pace.
The goal of our team is to help bring these two worlds together and work both with the WordPress community and core developers, and the web platform developers to enable amazing user experiences on the web — powered by WordPress.”
Progressive Web Apps is another technology being driven by Google that provides app-like experiences in the browser. Crucially, the technology behind PWAs allows users to progressively download resources only when they need them, as opposed to a regular website where users have to download the entire page and all its resources before the page appears.
That’s a highly simplified explanation but the same technology that makes WPAs faster and more secure than web pages as we currently know them can also be applied to a platform like WordPress – and this seems to be the approach Google is exploring.
If Google can help WordPress create a cleaner ecosystem that’s going to speed up the platform, that’s got to be good news for the web in general. The CMS does so much right as it is and it never asked to be used as a website builder – something it was never designed for. Even still, it’s always had that niggle in terms of speed and rectifying this would only make it an even better platform.
If you need help with making your WordPress site faster, get in touch with our team of WordPress experts for some advice.