Speed Matters : 11 Tips To Improve Your Site Speed

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How To Improve Your Site Speed

According to a study by Akamai and Forrester Research, nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less, and they tend to abandon a site that isn’t loaded within 3 seconds. 79% of web shoppers who have trouble with web site performance say they won’t return to the site to buy again and around 44% of them would tell a friend if they had a poor experience shopping online.

Microsoft conducted an experiment on very small percentage of Bing users and experienced that delays over 500 milliseconds can cause a measurable a drop in revenue per user

Even a 1-second delay in page load time counts. According to a study by Aberdeen Group:

  • 11% fewer page views
  • 16% decrease in customer satisfaction
  • 7% loss in conversions

Amazon found this to be true, reporting increased revenue of 1% for every 100 milliseconds improvement to their site speed.

Walmart also found that a 2% increase in conversions for every 1 second of improvement.

Walmart conversion study

Walmart conversion study

Google also conducted a research and as they say in their blog post:

Our experiments demonstrate that slowing down the search results page by 100 to 400 milliseconds has a measurable impact on the number of searches per user of -0.2% to -0.6% (averaged over four or six weeks depending on the experiment). That’s 0.2% to 0.6% fewer searches for changes under half a second!

What Google Say:

We believe that making our websites load and display faster improves the user’s experience and helps them become more productive.

– Google Webmaster Blog

We’re including a new signal in our search ranking algorithms: site speed. Site speed reflects how quickly a website responds to web requests. Speeding up websites is important – not just to site owners, but to all Internet users. Faster sites create happy users, and we’ve seen in our internal studies that when a site responds slowly, visitors spend less time there. But, faster sites don’t just improve user experience; recent data shows that improving site speed also reduces operating costs.

– Google Webmaster Blog

Users value ads that bring them to the information they want as efficiently as possible. A high-quality landing page should have a fast load time as well as feature unique, relevant content. Fast load times benefit advertisers as well, since users are less likely to abandon a site that loads quickly.

– Google Adwords Support

Speaking at SMX West back in 2010, Google’s Maile Ohye showed that delays of under a half-second impact business metrics.

Delays of under a half-second impact business metrics

Delays of under a half-second impact business metrics

Take a look at this awesome infographic by KISSmetrics explaining how page loading time affects your bottom line.

How Loading Time Affects Your Bottom Line [Infographic]

Google is not the only one with tools though. Yslow is a great add-on for Firebug in Mozilla which also analyses web pages. Using Yahoo!’s rules for high performance web sites, it can advise you why you page is slow and how to fix it. You can perform a speed test on your website with many online tools; like these:

Also you can use “Google Page Speed” tool to know how to speed up your web pages with a Firefox add-on “Firebug”. In the bottom right of your browser is the icon to bring up firebug and you will see the page speed link.

 

How To Improve Site Speed:

Here we share 11 geeky tips to get your site to load faster 🙂 The following steps can help any site, no matter how fast, trim a few seconds off of its loading time.

 

#1: Use GZIP compression:

Incorporate gzip compression into your site will decrease page load times. You can significantly speed up a site, reducing file size by as much as 70% without degrading the quality of the images, video or the site at all. You can use this gzip compression tool to see if your site is already gzipped.
  

#2: Optimize Images:

Images tend to be the largest (file size) items on a webpage. A well-optimised image with compressed file size is the key, but without reducing quality. In Photoshop you can use the “Save for Web” option to drastically reduce image size. Use the appropriate file format for your images. Changing to a different file format can decrease the file size of an image:
  • JPEG format should be used for images with lots of colors and details like realistic images.
  • GIF format is ideal for images with few colors like logos & cliparts.
  • PNG should be used when you need high quality transparent images.

#3: Make JavaScript and CSS External:

Use scripts and CSS as external files instead of cramping up each and every web page. This way, the browser only has to load the files one time, rather than every time someone visits each page of your site. Ideally, put your external CSS in the portion of your site, and your external JavaScript file as close to the tag as possible. This way, the browser isn’t bogged down wading through all those requests for external files right from the start. The only time you won’t want to do this is if the Javascript needs to load near the top of the page – such as to display a name or load up an image carousel.

 

#4: Optimize HTML, CSS & JavaScript:

Minify HTML, CSS and JavaScript by removing spaces and unnecessary comments etc. Going through the W3C compliance for CSS will also help you remove any lines that are not required. Here are some online tools you can use:

#5: Cache Content:

Content management systems like WordPress have plugins that will cache the latest version of your pages and display it to your users  so that the browser isn’t forced to go dynamically generate that page every single time. Plugins like WP Super Cache or W3 Total Cache can take a serious bite out of page load times.

#6: Don’t Use HTML to Re-size Images:

Using HTML you can easily create a smaller version of a larger image. But resizing the image using HTML doesn’t mean it’s taking up any less room on the server. The browser still has to load the entire image, and then check the width and height you want and then re-size it accordingly.

#7: Try Not To Use Flash:

Some flash files can take up a lot of bandwidth when loading a webpage, so minimize Flash usage as much as possible. Here are some alternatives to reduce Flash usage:

  • JQuery for photo slideshows
  • Embed videos from YouTube
  • Embed music files from YouTube

#8: Minify Extra Codes:

Minimize the usage of extra files and codes that your page must load for it to work. Try and incorporate as much as you can into the source code – or remove them. Google code, compliance images, tweet and Facebook ‘like’ buttons are also culprits of slowing down a page, so try and minimize their usage or optimize them.

#9: Manage Plugins:

Plugin Performance Graph

Plugin Performance Graph

Lots of WordPress plugins will slow your website down – only use those that are necessary for your website to function.

#10: Avoid Redirects:

Every time a 301 redirect is used, it forces the browser to a new URL which increases page-loading times. If possible, avoid using 301 redirects.

#11: Use Content Delivery Network:

If your site is extremely popular and you’re still having trouble minimize the page load time then consider a Content Delivery Network (CDN). CDNs work by serving pages depending on where the user is located. Faster access to a server near their geographical area means they get the site to load sooner. CDNs like Amazon Cloudfront, MaxCDN, CloudFlare are worth checking out.

If you find this hard to remember then this 15 point checklist to help you out.

15 rules for faster loading website

Is Page Speed Really Important For SEO?

If we look at Google’s official blog post says about page speed:

While site speed is a new signal, it doesn’t carry as much weight as the relevance of a page. Currently, fewer than 1% of search queries are affected by the site speed signal.

This means  that site speed will affect only queries where other ranking signals are very close or when the load time is exceptionally poor.

Matt Cutts also mentioned about this in his blog post:

That means that even fewer search results are affected, since the average search query is returning 10 or so search results on each page.

Even if you have a mobile website or a crazy slow ad servers page speed can affect rankings by only by a very tiny amount. Matt also explains this in different Webmaster Tools video.

Basically, this isn’t going to turn around the top ten; but it will effect while keywords ranking much lower than the top ten.

This incredible infographic by Quicksprout explains how load time affects Google rankings.

How Load Time Affect rankings Infographic

If you are looking for  further reading on improving your site speed then you can find some helpful articles from Google here.

What other techniques do you use to optimize your website for speed? Is page speed affecting your rankings by any way? Share your thought in the comments section below.

About

Sourav Saha is is the Web Consultant at Webaholic. He blogs about latest SEO trends, Social Media Tips and Updates at Blogaholic. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Google+.

4 Comments

  1. Mike
    December 2, 2011

    You can also check your website load speed with advanced details using this free online Website Speed Test tool.

    Reply
    • Sourav Saha
      December 2, 2011

      Thanks Mike for sharing this tool! Will surely check this out 🙂

      Reply
  2. Nishkarsh Sharma
    January 24, 2014

    I so wanted something like this. I applied image optimization and http compression on my WordPress blog. Hoping to see the results soon.

    Thanks a lot for sharing.

    Reply
    • Sourav Saha
      January 24, 2014

      Thanks Nishkarsh! Glad you found this article helpful 🙂 Do share with us how these techniques affected you site loading time.

      Reply

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