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WordPress Takes Steps to Achieve Performance Lead via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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The new WordPress Performance Team, which includes contributors from Google and Yoast, is meeting to plan the next steps for coordinating efforts for improving WordPress performance. A kickoff meeting is happening on Tuesday, November 2, 2021.

What is underway is an energized approach toward solving performance bottlenecks in all areas of WordPress, including plugins and themes.

Virtually everything is on the table, with currently 19 categories of focus-areas to improve.

The initial meeting is in the WordPress slack group. Those without access are encouraged to participate in the announcement comment area.

Initial plans for the performance team meeting:

  • “lead the working groups formation
  • coordinate the initial administrative tasks (slack channel, weekly meetings, schedule working groups representative nominations, etc.)
  • create a mission statement for the team
  • coordinate the areas to tackle
  • outline the scope and the roadmap”

The Performance Team Meeting Agenda

The meeting agenda lists three items, a welcome, an open floor (where people can speak freely) and a time for defining areas of focus.

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Defining areas of focus is an important part of the agenda because it may help set the outlines for a road map of continuing the efforts to improve WordPress performance.

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That said, there is already a spreadsheet with 19 categories of areas to improve.

The Performance Team describes keeping the focus of the meeting limited to begin with:

“…we will initially aim to keep the scope limited by defining the most impactful area of focus and create working groups if need be.

Defined focus areas will be the main points of discussion during weekly chats.

An agenda item for the first meetings will be to define the initial focus areas for the team.”

19 Categories for Improvement

There is a spreadsheet called, WP Performance Team: Focus Areas and Working Groups that lists 19 areas of focus.

Among the categories are these targets for improvement:

  • Images
    Serving images in good quality but as small as possible
  • JavaScript
    Optimizing JavaScript orchestration – Script prioritization, async/defer loading, use of module(s), loading scripts in footer, conditional loading…
  • CSS
    Reducing CSS overhead – Critical CSS inlining, CSS tree shaking, CSS minification, …
  • Web fonts
    Reducing web fonts overhead – Web fonts orchestration, fonts CSS inlining, avoiding multiple requests, …
  • Themes/Plugin requirements
    Encouraging plugins to provide better performance: Automatic performance tests in CI, flagging problematic plugins, …

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This is the full list of 19 categories, which can be reviewed in the official Performance Team spreadsheet:

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  1. Images
  2. JavaScript
  3. CSS
  4. Web fonts
  5. Asset caching
  6. Page caching
  7. Object caching
  8. Bootstrap
  9. Embeds
  10. Facades
  11. SQL
  12. Redirects
  13. CDN support
  14. Themes/Plugin requirements
  15. Host configuration
  16. Site Health
  17. Localization
  18. Measurement
  19. Hints

Helping Plugin Developers/Not Policing Them

A forward-looking approach taken by the Performance Team is to focus on how they can help plugin developers better performing software that didn’t slow down a website.

Performance Team members left comments on the right hand side that align with the 19 categories of focus that are listed on the left hand side of the spreadsheet.

Screenshot of a WordPress Performance Team Comment

WordPress Performance Team Comment

WordPress Performance Team Comment

One commenter on the performance projects spreadsheet discussed creating a handbook while another (Googler Thierry Mueller) suggested adding performance signals to help publishers better understand where their plugins stood in terms of performance.

One of the Performance Team members commented about helping plugin developers:

There is a huge work to be done to educate plugin and theme developers to better understand how to enqueue assets correctly/when needed.
I’m available to write a handbook section about this and to put together some enqueues best practices/lessons as I already have started this QA job in my company.

In the same comment stream Thierry Mueller of Google commented about how to help plugin developers:

“Top of mind is introducing some performance signals to the plugins and themes review. That could already stop some of the bleeding for new plugins/themes and we could think of helping plugins/themes on update as well which would very quickly circle around all active plugins.”

Active Performance Projects

WordPress tracks various development projects and some of them are related to performance, as listed in this official WordPress page.

One of the projects is fixing a bug in the media uploader that causes the WordPress site to create a new version of the image that is three to four times bigger than the original image.

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Another project currently in progress is omitting the lazy load attribute from images that are above the fold in order to improve performance.

WordPress is Fighting Back

WordPress is taking a coordinated approach toward improving performance. The next steps will be discussed Tuesday November 2, 2021.

The focus is already toward achieving the most “impactful” wins on the WordPress core itself and thinking of ways to help plugin and theme developers create software that doesn’t slow websites down.

Among the project participants are contributors from Google and Yoast. While this is just a beginning, looking at the projects already underway WordPress may begin building success upon success very soon.

Drupal, Wix , and Duda have surged well ahead of WordPress in terms of performance. The new performance team may help WordPress gain the top spot.

Citations

Read the Details of the Performance Team Kick Off Meeting

WordPress Performance Team Kick Off

Review the WordPress Spreadsheet with List of Future Improvements

WP Performance Team: Focus areas and working groups

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Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”

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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.

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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

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But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

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One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.

Citations

Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

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