It’s no secret that high ranking in search engines will bring increased traffic and, by extension, increased revenues. Since search engines, especially Google, began to drive a huge amount of Internet traffic, search engine optimization, or SEO, has been an area of great focus for many businesses. One of the factors that contribute to good rankings is fast page load speed, which has been a part of Google’s algorithm for quite some time. However a change was introduced into Google’s algorithm on April 21st that checks if sites are “mobile friendly”.
If you care about page ranking you may want to know how mobile friendliness determined and how it can affect you. You can check if a website is mobile friendly by using Google’s mobile friendly test.
The factors that determine mobile friendliness are similar to those which Google PageSpeed uses to rank sites by “quickness”. The biggest contributing factor to the mobile friendliness rating is whether or not the page changes form factor on different sized screens. No one likes scrolling sideways to read a single paragraph on a small phone screen!
When we found out about this, we were curious of how websites hosted by local businesses would fare against the test. Luckily, we have at our disposal a directory full of links to the websites of many local businesses and a group of developers who could write a program to automatically test the sites and display their results.
We wanted scores to be generated on the fly, so our solution was to write an application in Go and deploy it on App Engine. Go is a relatively young programming language which we’ve had some fun using at Stickman in the past and is very efficient for simple App Engine projects. App Engine is one of the easiest ways to deploy web apps on the market today, offers automatic and painless scaling, and provides easy access to many Google APIs. The application primarily makes use of the PageSpeed Insights API, a simple way to get raw data from the PageSpeed test. Internally, we use Cloud Datastore, a lightweight database, to store business and URL data, and Task Queues, which allow the tests to run asynchronously, which speeds up our speed tester and allows the data on the page to be refreshed independently of the page itself. The UI was written using Polymer components.
The technologies we chose to use allowed us to get off the ground very quickly and create what we think is a polished and useful web app. It was also a great deal of fun to learn new web technologies and the many ways to compose them. Check it out! (If source code is more your forte, you can find that on GitHub).