With Page Speed Service, Google just announced a new service that could make your sites load faster.
Just a few weeks ago, Google announced Instant Pages, a service that pre-renders and then quickly loads some of the top search results for Chrome users. Today, Google announced the next step in its drive to make all of the web – and not just Google’s own sites – significantly faster. Page Speed Service wants to bring speed-ups to any site on the net that points its DNS entry to Google.
Mod_Pagespeed as a Service
Quite a few larger sites already use services that offload some of their files to content delivery networks, but this system is a bit different. Just last year, Google launched mod_pagespeed, a module for the popular Apache web server. Page Speed Service basically turns ths module into an on-demand service. By applying “web performance best practices,” as Google calls it, the service can speed up the loading times of your site by between 25% and 60% on average. That is quite a significant number and the improved performance is achieved by concatenating CSS, compressing your images, and gzipping resources.
This system also agressively caches content, though it’s important to note that this is not a traditional content delivery network and does not support Flash, streaming audio and video content. Google will, however, serve some of your files from its servers around the world, leading to even faster download times for your users who are further away from your server.
Advanced webmasters can easily add the mod_pagespeed module to their own setup, but for those who just want an easy way to speed up their sites and don’t have the in-house expertise to manipulate their server setup – and don’t mind pointing their DNS to Google’s servers – this new system should prove to be quite useful.
It’s worth noting that some services, including the CloudFlare service we use to speed up this site, already offer similar features (including CSS compression, CDN-like image caching etc.).
Page Speed Service is still only being tested by a small number of sites, but you can see how much it could speed up your site here and then sign up for early access here. For now, the service is available for free, but Google plans to charge for it at a later point. While the price is not clear yet, Google promises that it will be “competitive.”