HTTP2 – Interview with Tom Anthony, VP of Product

Tom Anthony is the VP of Product at Distilled. Tom will be speaking about HTTP/2 in June at Search Elite and I interview him before the big event to find out about his presentation.

When did you and the team start planning for  HTTP/2?  and how many sites have you worked on regarding HTTP/2  to date?

Being honest… we didn’t!! However, we started seeing HTTP/2 more and more in the wild, and realised it was getting uptake a lot faster than we had anticipated. Because CDNs, such as CloudFlare and Akamai, can enable HTTP/2 without needing to make code changes to your site, then suddenly a lot of our clients were on HTTP/2 and our points of contact there were not even aware of that fact, and weren’t sure what the implications were.
We anticipate we’ll have more clients on HTTP/2 than not by the end of the year, and in some spaces the numbers are already that way.

Some clients just started working in HTTPS, would you recommend they now move to HTTP/2? Why/ Why not?  (How important will HTTP/2 be?)

Browsers require HTTPS in order to use HTTP/2, so HTTP/2 is actually another reason to move to HTTPS!
In almost all real world cases HTTP/2 is going to outperform HTTPS, and so your users will get speed benefits right away. Given that you can usually enable it at the CDN if you are on HTTPS then there is little reason not to make the change. However, people should be aware that Google does not currently crawl using HTTP/2 so you may not get the direct ‘credit’ right away, but Google will hopefully detect the improvement via user signals.

How would you recommend SEOs and Online Marketers start learning about HTTP/2 so they can start implementing it?

Firstly – it shouldn’t just be SEOs who want HTTP/2, anyone on the user experience side / performance of things should also want it. SEOs should be one voice in an organisation making the case for the move. In terms of implementing it – if you already have a CDN then the biggest hurdle is going to be making sure you are on HTTPS, at which point you can likely just ‘switch it on’ (free wins!). If you do not have a CDN, then you should realise this is not something necessarily for the dev team, but more for your infrastructure / IT team to get your servers setup for it.

Lastly, in terms of learning about it — a big thing to be aware of is that some traditional performance advice is no longer applicable for HTTP/2. For example, the logic behind image sprites is no longer applicable. I’m writing a blog post about some of this, so watch this space!!

Thank you Tom, look forward to seeing you at Search Elite !

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