PAGE SPEED: IS YOUR SITE FAST ENOUGH?
1, 2… Too late. You already lost 4.3% clicks, at least according to Microsoft Bing search team. And that is for only a 2 seconds delay.
Scary uh? What if I told you that the very same delay also has a negative impact on user satisfaction (-3.8%) and revenue per user (4.3%).? Not good, especially if you are trying to make a living from your site.
As if this were not enough, Google counts site speed as a ranking factor, directly affecting your SEO effort.
Don’t forget that your site loading speed can make quite an impression on newcomers and, being this the internet, words can spread very quickly (for better or worse).
I freely admit to be part of those people who get very annoyed by long loading times. I lost count of how many times I’ve skipped a site entirely because it was taking too long to load, especially if I could find similar content somewhere else.
The simplest way to find out is to ask Google, which will not only analyse your site’s contents for speed, but also suggest how to improve it.
Some suggestions are:
MINIMIZE HTTP REQUEST AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE: 80% of web pages loading times is spent downloading elements such as scripts, stylesheets, images, flashplayers, etc…
Each one of these elements is a separated HTTP request, the more of them, the longer the site takes to load. Try to combine all scripts into a single one, this can also be applied to stylesheets.
In case you’re not able to do it, try to go for a simpler and cleaner layout, with less elements to download.
REDUCE SERVER RESPONSE TIME: The recommended server time response is under 200ms (milliseconds).
ENABLE BROWSER CACHING: When you enter a site, your browser saves its elements in a temporary storage (cache) in order to reduce HTTP request for future visits and speed up the loading time. The difference before and after caching a website can even be of seconds.
Notice that there are far fewer elements to load after caching.
More of the 50% daily visitors to your site have an empty cache, so It’s still more important to make your site faster per Se. Nonetheless, enabling caching will make regular visits more pleasant.
Here you can find different ways to enable caching, don’t forget to set a reasonable life time for cached files.
OPTIMIZE IMAGES: Oversized images will obviously take a lot more time to load, try to crop and resize them manually to match your site width. You’ll need an image editing tool.
Avoid setting the width parameter (width=””), this will only slow down the entire page.
JPEG images are recommended, PNGs have a better quality but slower loading times. It’s up to you preference.
Use GIFs only for small and simple graphics or animated images. Stay away from BMPs and TIFFs.
Make sure the image coding is correct, try not to leave any “blank” (i.e. <img src=””>) as this will cause the browser to make a request to the directory and add unnecessary traffic.
REDUCE PLUGINS: Plugins can cause crashes, security issues and overall slow down loading times.
Try deactivating one by one and measure how much they impact on your server, keep only those that you deem essential.
LESS REDIRECTS: Redirects create more HTTP requests slowing down the server, try to keep them to a minimum.
Usually redirects are used if you have a mobile counter part for your site.
Google recommends using a HTTP redirect in order to avoid intermediate redirects and send mobile users directly to the mobile version of the site.
Also, include <link rel=”alternate”> as markup in the desktop version so Googlebot can identify and discover your mobile page (here details from Google).
These are just some tips to improve your site speed, you still are the one who will have to do the “heavy lifting”.
Remember, simple is better.