SEO Quick Tip: Page Speed Optimization
Back in 2010 Google announced that page speed would become one of the signals in their algorithm that influences your page rank. These changes were made along with others changes to help those websites that provided a good user experience to rise higher in the rankings. I guess Google thought if they made signals focused on good user experience influence rankings then people would focus on that and users would be happier. I think it worked. Yay! Here are some of the main areas that you should focus on to improve the performance of your website:
Reduce server response time
If you are using a CMS like Wordpress, ExpressionEngine or Craft than make sure you are also using a good web host. Well, I guess this really applies to everyone but a lot of times I see small businesses use bottom tier shared web hosts and this has a massive impact on their site performance. In fact, I would say it is the number one thing a large number of websites could change that would give their website the most significant boost in performance. If you use a good web host and your pages aren't loading quickly then you should start looking into the different caching tools available to you. We recommend Hummingbird for WP, CE Cache for EE, and Craft has some caching tools built-in.
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Minify CSS and JS is just striping out all unnecessary characters like comments and whitespace to reduce the file size of these assets. Which in turn reduces the amount of time it takes a user's browser to download them and thus speeding up the site. Depending on your website there are tons of different tools available to help with this.
Optimize your images
Reduce the number of requests
The fewer files the browser needs to fetch to render the page for the user the better. Try and combine your CSS into a single file and your into a single file. If you have a lot of tiny icons or images, you should combine them into an image sprite. Image spriting isn't as common anymore with modern CSS and font based icons, but it is still a good practice to keep in your toolkit.
Leverage browser caching
The user's web browser will cache assets locally on their device if you tell the browser it can. You can do this by telling your web server to set the expires header, and the browser will cache assets based on the value you set.
Use compression and not just for your images
You can also tell your web server to serve your website's HTML and all of its assets and resources using Gzip compression. Gzipping reduces the size of these assets and reduces the amount of time it takes to transfer them which speeds up the page speed and improves the user experience.
This is not an exhaustive list nor details, and there are some other tips like reducing redirects and using a CDN. What we have talked about in this post though will get you 95% of the way there when it comes to improving your website's performance. This will enhance your users' experience using your website and as a nice side benefit also improve your website's ranking in search engines like Google.