Starting July 2018, Google will use mobile page speed as a ranking factor (as opposed to just desktop page speed). In a climate when 47 percent of consumers expect to wait less than two seconds for a web-page to load and a one-second delay in page-load time leads to an 11% drop in views, page speed ismore important than ever.
An introduction to HTTP/2
HTTP/2 (specified to be written that way by the standard) was ratified in 2015 and has brought with it major speed improvements over the traditional HTTP/1.1 and HTTPS protocols. It was built on the backbone of Google’s SPDY protocol and has been defined as the next HTTP successor.
Why this is important
In February 2018, just over 75% of the internet’s websites are still using older the HTTP/1.1 or HTTPS protocols. Right now is a good opportunity to harness the speed advantage of HTTP/2 for a competitive SEO edge. Equally, in the future, as adoption rates for HTTP/2 increase you would rather not be left behind either.
Remind me – What was HTTP again?
The Hypertext Transfer Protocol is one of the many unsung heroes unpinning today’s Internet. It is one of the communication protocols (rules of communication) followed by computers so that they can understand each other, exchange information effectively, and expect the same responses from each other.
HTTP in particular is a protocol that controls the World Wide Web (websites and hyperlinks)/ exchange of websites, and is the protocol that lets you request website files and any other related media (.HTML files, images, .CSS styling files, etc.)
HTTP evolution timeline
What are the differences between HTTP/1.1 and HTTP/2
HTTP/2 can download multiple files at once. In HTTP/1.1 we had to wait for the previous file to be downloaded before we could download the next one.
- HTTP/1.1 has to finish downloading a file from the server before it can download the next one.
- HTTP/2 can download multiple files from the server at once.
Whilst the HTTP/2 specification itself doesn’t require it, the modern web-browsers only support HTTP/2 if you are using TLS (HTTPS). This is a controversial move but will ultimately result in everyone making their website more secure.
HTTPS is slower than HTTP 1.1 because it has to take the time to encrypt and decrypt all the data being sent over the connection.
- The encryption from HTTPS will make HTTP/2 a bit slower
- Although overall HTTP/2 is still a lot faster than HTTP 1.1
On top of this, HTTP/2 packs a few other features: sending data as binary instead of plain-text, utilising HPACK compression to reduce overhead, and allowing servers to “push” responses proactively into client caches.