Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Aug 8, 2016
I was looking at my site on Saturday night and I noticed my Alexa rank. Even though most people think there’s no use for Alexa, it turns out there is. and it scared me. I noticed that my traffic had dropped drastically and I wanted to see what the issue might be.
I looked at my Google Analytics and noticed that for every single one of my websites my traffic had dropped drastically around the beginning of May. I thought that was strange and I wasn’t sure why that was happening so I did some research.
It turns out that at the beginning of May is when Google decided to look at web sites and determine whether they were mobile friendly or not, which I thought I was totally prepared for. I had gone through a lot of work to make sure that all my websites were mobile friendly, and I had even checked them against this Google page that indicated that all my sites were mobile friendly. So what was the issue?
It seems mobile friendly isn’t the only thing to worry about. The other thing we have to worry about is mobile speed. I hadn’t paid that much attention to mobile speed because all everyone ever talked about was being mobile friendly. When I checked all my sites against mobile speed, even though they all still came up mobile-friendly, my mobile speed was around 60/100. It turns out that’s considered a poor mobile website; who knew?
I’m one of those people who is at least a little bit tech savvy. I’m also a pretty good researcher, so I did my thing and started doing all this research, then started finagling with code to try to get the mobile speed up to par. The problem was associated with compression, though initially I thought it might be a problem with image sizes. However, since my blogs won’t accept large files, I didn’t think it was that particular issue. It was associated with something called “gzip compression”; I don’t fully understand it but it didn’t mean I was scared to try to correct the problem.
At one point I actually succeeded in getting my mobile speed to 100/100, and thought that was pretty fantastic. However, two things happened. The first is that my mobile friendly went down from 100/100 to 72/100, which is only considered fair. The second is that all my websites suddenly had internal server errors; that wasn’t good.
I had to go back and remove all the new code that I had added to both php.ini and .htaccess to get my websites back; whew! Once that was accomplished, I dabbled around with the code for a longer period of time, finding more examples during my search including on the 1&1 site, which is where I host my sites.
After almost 3 hours I decided it was time to call 1&1 to see what they might offer. The recommendation that was on their site was from 2014, so I thought maybe it was out of date.
I spoke to the lady who told me she would send me a code I should add to .htaccess. When I got the code in the email it was the same code I had already tried. I wrote her back saying it didn’t work, gave her a screenshot of the Google test as well as other information that I had in both php.ini and .htaccess. After I hadn’t heard from them in a couple of hours I decided to go to bed (it was close to 2:30 in the morning after all lol).
Sunday morning I checked email and found that the reason none of what I was doing would work was because I was on a package that was 10 years old and they hadn’t just rolled it over, which seems like it would make sense until I realize that neither the phone companies or cable companies would do it automatically either. In essence, nothing I was doing was compatible with what everyone else might have because I’ve been with the same package for too long.
Sunday afternoon I finally made the call to 1&1 and, after having all my questions answered, I decided to upgrade my package. Here’s the funny thing though. Upgrading my package is costing me $0.13 more a month. Also, for the first year I’m getting it at $6 less than what it would normally cost, and they have to give me a prorated discount because they had just taken a payment against my credit card last week so they have to apply that to the new package. In essence, this means for the first year I will be paying them just under $50, and after that it will be $14.99 a month, which they’ll bill in one shot as opposed to the quarterly billing I’ve been paying. Not only that, but with the new package I won’t be paying $5.99 for extended PHP support, which I was paying because my sites weren’t compatible with the latest PHP under the old package; sigh…
Supposedly it’s going to take 3 to 5 days for everything to be working properly. After that time, it’s my expectation that I should at least be close to 100/100 for everything since compression will automatically be on via the hosting company. Hopefully this will result in a turnaround in my stats, although since it took 4 months for it to fall this far it just might take the same amount of time to get it all back… but I’m hopeful.
I tell this tale because I’m betting that some of you have been going through some of the same things I have. If you have exhausted all of your options and you’re still having issues with your website as it applies to being mobile friendly, you should check with your host to find out if your on a proper package that will help you take care of this issue. If only I had known back in May… sigh…