HTTP (Hypertext transfer protocol) is essentially the encoding/decoding mechanism by which information is transferred from one computer to another. Since the inception of the World Wide Web, there have been a number of iterations to this protocol, each improving the speed and efficiency with which that information is transferred.
However, none of these iterations has had the impact of HTTP/2 promising to make it the biggest single improvement to HTTP yet. In short, HTTP/2 means the web is becoming faster than ever and more optimised for the growing mobile audience. This is Potentially great news for your Magento site.
In a word: speed. Google released its speed update back in July of this year impacting the ranking of the slowest mobile sites. While yours may not be among those, it does provide a further indication that page load speed as a ranking factor is of paramount importance. The July speed update is likely to be part of a subtle nudge from Google to force site owners to switch to using HTTP/2. It makes sense. User experience is central to Google’s algorithm and if a technology that can enhance that becomes available, you would expect Google to reward adopters. With mobile first indexing in the process of being rolled out, the quickest, best optimised mobile sites are beginning to pull away from the rest.
But improved search ranking is not the only positive, of course. A better site experience and faster load times are exactly what you should be trying to provide to your users. There is much truth in the 3-second rule (a 21st century version of the idiom “first impressions last”) which holds that a user makes up their mind about your website within 3 seconds. Faster sites mean that users spend less of those key seconds waiting for resources to load and instead engaging with your content. That’s definitely a win.
We use HTTP/2 for all of our clients, but if you want to check if your website is loading with HTTP/2, you can check the developer tools pane in your browser (in Chrome, you can open this by pressing F12 or with ctrl, shift and “i”. In the protocol column (which you may need to add by right clicking on the columns), you will see “h2” if your site loads with http/2. If you don’t see “h2”, it doesn’t.
You can also check an HTTP2.Pro online checking tool to see if your Magento site’s server currently supports HTTP/2.
Absolutely. For such a relatively straightforward change, the benefits are potentially huge. If your developers have not made the switch yet or have yet to propose it, it would be fair to ask why. At magic42, you’ll be pleased to know that all our managed hosting setups come with HTTP/2 enabled as standard.
For any serious ecommerce website with lots of resources on each page, enabling HTTP/2 is of particular importance and should be on your radar. Better still, as of October 2018, HTTP/2 is still only employed by around 30% of all websites. Far from just keeping pace, there’s still an opportunity to get ahead of the competition.