- Posted by Karolin Bierbrauer
- On 7. June 2016
- 0 Comments
- #http2, #SEO
The HTTP protocol is already many years old and was made for websites which just had HTML. When a website only has HTML it is very light. But over the past decade, new website technologies emerged, web pages got more complex, and since CMS like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and co. web servers also have to work very hard with PHP to deliver websites. And as you might know it, website owners are always worried about changes made on their website. It helps your SEO and user experience, so you as the owner should consider the change.
Webmasters waited for this update a long time: HTTP/2. This new protocol was based mainly on Google‘s own SPDY proxy protocol. This protocol is reducing load times and improves communication between servers and browsers.
The HTTP/2 protocol also reduces repetition in the headers of a website and it allows for requesting a lot of files simultaneously. Especially CMS based sites are loading at least 75 files, the HTTP/2 protocol is a huge advantage to have.
Switch from HTTP/1.1 to HTTP/2
The switch from HTTP/1.1 to HTTP/2 is much easier than everybody might think and there are no reasons not to switch. That’s because if a browser doesn’t support the new protocol, it will automatically downgrade the connection to the older one. But in order for the website to support the new protocol, you should update your server software, assuming your servers support the HTTP/2 protocol. Please ask your provider. I just know from my Synology Diskstation that since DSM6 this protocol is supported, and this website is running it already.
On the other side of the internet, it is still a bit complicated. Like I wrote above, major browsers switch back to the old protocol if they don’t support it, however, most of them only support HTTP/2 over a secure connection. This means if your website is not secured yet, ie. has HTTPS, you can’t use that protocol. If you want to use it then you’ll need to switch to HTTPS. The good thing is, that many hosts, CDNs, and other services offer free TLS 2.0 certificates already, so please check it with your provider.
For example, on my Diskstation, I have the chance to integrate the “Let’s encrypt” certificates for free, and I have to say, they work really well. Even Chrome doesn’t complain. And I used to pay money for multi-domain certificates before.
I would definitely recommend switching your website to HTTPS, even you are not an eCommerce store, but HTTPS is also a Google ranking factor and the switch to HTTP/2 will also be better for user experience, because it is faster.
HTTP/2 has another advantage. And that is on slow internet connections, like on mobile networks. It eliminates the round trips and so the load time on slower connections is reduced a lot. I would also say that HTTP/2 reduces the load times more than Google’s AMP. I would use both, just in case.
Is HTTP/2 affecting SEO or not?
John Mueller, a Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, stated recently that the Googlebot used to crawl the websites in order to index them and so on, is supporting the new HTTP/2 protocol since the beginning of 2016. Google also stated that the protocol is not directly affecting SEO, on the other hand, if the website loads faster, the users are more likely to stay on your website, which then leads to a higher time on site and lower bounce rate, and this indicates to Google that the site might be interesting. So I would say, yes, it does affect SEO in some way.
What else should SEOs look out for?
Actually, not much except they should advise their client to get in touch with their webmaster or hoster and ask for HTTP/2 support and change to HTTPS, if not already done. It is better to be one of the first to support the new standard, then loosing users to the competition, because they have already implemented it.