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I'm clearly a webpagetest.org addict now. Once again, I tested my site after optimizing (by eliminating some file scans) and the speed greatly improved. It's now at about 150ms Time to First Byte from western USA to the server located in East Canada. I check my adsense, and google still refuses to pay me a cent for the mobile site. Now I think its because google wants good speed regardless of whether the user types in the URL mobile or desktop version of the site.

I thought of a one-site responsive design but went against it because my mobile site is a slimmed down version that eats about half the bandwidth of what the desktop site requires.

Here's some results from my tests:

Testing a server-cached page by accessing desktop URL:

http://www.webpagetest.org/result/160119_0M_1BH7/1/details/ - TTFB > 400ms (200+ms higher than what google recommends)

Testing the same server-cached page by directly accessing mobile URL:

http://www.webpagetest.org/result/160119_C6_1BN8/1/details/ - TTFB about 130ms (within google's recommendations)

Testing similar page uncached by directly accessing mobile URL:

http://www.webpagetest.org/result/160119_2Q_1BT0/1/details/

Testing similar page uncached by directly accessing desktop URL:

http://www.webpagetest.org/result/160119_BX_1BV9/ - This scored a D.

I did everything I could to make the pages load faster by running the site from RAM, and by disabling .htaccess use in apache and disabling file checks. According to my inquiry on CDN's, I was told its not a good idea since sometimes I make frequent updates to the site especially when it does not work.

In the past I had chained redirects on my site because I was doing all URL mapping (even redirects) with mod_rewrite but now I'm using my script to determine what page is to be displayed and if a redirect is necessary, I use my script to calculate the final destination instead of making user hop through multiple URLs.

Now I'm curious if this move I made is a mistake. Should I just stick with my setup now of one redirect and possibly longer TTFB, or should I use multiple redirects (as necessary) with lower TTFB?

I'm looking at this from a server performance and googlebot standpoint and don't know which is the best way to go.

  • You shouldn't have to disable or optimise anything to get your first byte down, generally thats down to the quality of the hosting and the server. If you want better first bytes speak to your host or change host to a higher quality one. – Simon Hayter Jan 20 '16 at 11:57
  • According to probably 99% of seo experts, my TTFB is exceptional, but I'm trying to put it as low as possible to satisfy the google robot so I can finally make money on the mobile site. Google can be picky especially when it comes to paying publishers. – Mike Jan 20 '16 at 17:32
  • 99% of seo experts Whom exactly?... I would say under 100ms is exceptional 100-400ms is good, 400ms - 700ms is average... and any more its considered poor. – Simon Hayter Jan 20 '16 at 17:53
  • I said probably because the TTFB to my server in East canada from West USA so far averages at 150ms on a native connection (according to webpagetest.org). And I don't use a CDN. – Mike Jan 20 '16 at 18:35
  • CDN are good for targetting multiple regions but its not just about TTFB, they are much faster at transfering data, they have multiple redunancys and the best thing is every request they get the less requests you get... meaning your server is faster because less resources are being requested. – Simon Hayter Jan 20 '16 at 20:59
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As long as your redirect chains are of reasonable length, redirect chains are absolutely fine. If you chain 4 or more redirects together Google may start to refuse to follow them. If you chain 10 or more redirects together browsers start to give errors to users.

If chained redirects your site to be faster, I would use the chained redirects.

As long as you always link to non-redirecting URLs on your site, users and Googlebot will rarely encounter redirects anyway. The only time that redirects should ever come into play are:

  • You changed a URL. Googlebot remembers the old URL forever. Googlebot has an extraordinarily long memory for old URLS. You may also have external links or bookmarks to the old URL.
  • You use a redirect to correct a malformed external link.
  • A user types in a URL and makes a typo.

On a tangent, I disagree that mobile sites need to be slimmed down. Bandwidth on mobile devices is rarely a limiting factor. Latency is usually a much bigger issue. I find that sites do better when they design for mobile by making few pages each of which contains more content. That may mean putting several articles per page. Scrolling to the next article can be much less time consuming than clicking and waiting 5 or 10 seconds for the next page to load.

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