How to increase your page load speed

Fast Web Media

If you have done any research around SEO or website development in the past year you will have come across the importance of page speed. Put more specifically, how long it takes your website pages to load in the browser.

Page speed is important for two reasons:

  • Users have become impatient with slow loading websites and will find an alternative if your page isn’t fast enough
  • Google now incorporates page speed in its ranking algorithm and will devalue websites which take too long to load.

What qualifies as a “good” page speed is debatable, and is often dependant on the competition within your industry. But realistically you should be aiming for below 5 seconds and ideally closer to 3. The question is how do you go about it?

Firstly you should understand what your page load speed is. Thankfully Google provides a handy little tool for that which you can find here.

The tool also gives a few pointers about what is taking longest to load on a page although they aren’t particularly detailed.

So how do you improve your page speed? Here are a few sure-fire ways of doing it.

Remove unnecessary code Depending on when your site was built, and who by, there is a strong chance there is some legacy or redundant html knocking around. Regardless of whether it is doing anything it needs to be read by the web browser and adds to the page load time. Have somebody go through the site and check for any redundant code to see what can be removed.

Uninstall any unused plugins If you are using Wordpress or an equivalent you will undoubtedly be utilising plugins for some of the website functionality. However, some of them might be installed and active but no longer in use. Remove any old plugins leaving only what is critical to your website functionality.

Check your image sizes Images can be one of the main causes of pages taking a long time to load. Regardless of what size an image looks on screen, it could be a large high definition file in reality and the browser has to load the whole thing. Ensure all images are just large enough to be the quality they need in regularly used browsers and screen resolutions.

Upgrade your hosting If you opted for a cheap shared hosting solution for your website then this could affect your load time. Check with your hosting provider what solution you have in place and what they can do to improve the speed, it may cost a few pounds more but it will be worth it.

Minify and externalise As much as possible of your page code, CSS and javascript should be minified and externalised from the page itself. Keep the page itself as light as possible.

Use a content distribution/delivery network CDNs are external networks of servers which can be used to host your content (often your images) and, will use load distribution to ensure maximum delivery speed at any given time. Reducing the reliance on a single server.

Implement browser caching By implementing browser caching you ensure that previous visitors do not have to reload all of the content each time they visit. Content is “stored” from their last visit and is reloaded quicker the next time. For sites that change less frequently this can be an effective tool for speeding up page speed.

Read about how we cut Aston Darby’s load speed in half with a few easy changes here.

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