Exploring the What and How’s Of Google’s Page Speed

Just like the efficiency of a newly launched car is judged by its mileage, in the similar pattern, the success of a website is determined by its loading speed. Evidently, the running speed of a website is considered as the major aspect determining its success on the web. No wonder, being a responsible site author, you have added exclusive content in order to make your site far more unique than the competitors. But if the speed of your site is slow and a major of your potential pages do not load easily, then without any arguments, you would be battling for both traffic and ranking. Google’s ranking algorithm clearly mentions its priority for fast loading pages and sites.

Now you might have got an idea about what Google’s Page Speed is all about. If you still have any doubt, have a look at this definition.

Defining Page Speed

Page Speed is generally referred to as the speed or time required for a web page to load in a particular session. In other words, it is the time taken by the browser to receive the first byte of information sent by the server. This time, duration is mostly calculated in seconds, minutes, and even hours. Do not confuse page speed with site speed as they both are different in their scope, time, and functions.

The faster the page speed the better its ranking and conversion rate.

Popular SEO practices Include- Page Speed

Yes! You heard it right. Page Speed is definitely one of the major aspects covered under SEO methodologies. It has already been mentioned by Google that site speed would be one of the measures in its ranking algorithm. Further mentioning that page speed is directly proportional to ranking, the faster the page the higher will be the ranking. Also, search engines find it difficult to crawl pages that are slow in speed and thus, resulting in lesser indexing of pages of a site.

Contrarily, pages with swift loading time have high bounce rate and low conversions, which is also not considered to be good for a site’s performance.

Best Ways To Increase Page Speed

Have a look on the popular steps that help in improving the page speed. Not just that they are easy to implement but have already been used by experts across the globe.

Here they are:

1.Enable Compression

This is the first and prime thing to do when heading on for improving the speed of your web pages. You must reduce the size of your CSS, HTML, and JavaScript files if their size is more than 150 bytes. Convert them into Gzip format but remember this does not go with the image files. For the image files, check their quality and regulate it using some Photoshop tools. You can easily do it with the help of some compression plugins like WordPress Gzip compression which is available free of cost in the plugin directory.

2.Minification of CSS, JavaScript, and HTML

Optimizing the CSS, JavaScript, and HTML files by removing commas, spaces and other characters like unused codes also helps in fueling the speed of pages. Use free available plugins like WP Super Minify, Autoptimize, Better WordPress Minify, Async JS, CSS, etc. to proceed the optimization process. Each of the plugins would function differently from the other like Better WordPress Minify optimize CSS and JavaScript files but not HTML. So for minifying HTML too, you can use Autoptimize.

3. Limit Redirects

Redirecting links is considered the best SEO practice wherein doing it at greater extent may result in a delay in page loading speed. Whenever a visitor lands on your site instead of getting straight to the option he wants to visit, if s/he is directed over to different links before going to the preferred option may not work in your favor. Such delayed performance of the pages may avert your visitors for no good reasons.

4. Promote browser caching

Every one of us knows browsers cache a considerable lot of information including all images, CSS, JavaScript files, and much more. Whenever a user visits a site, the request is sent to the server from the system and then responded back by the server to the system; this results in a considerable amount of time required for page loading. If the same process continues for every visit on the site, no wonder it would create a havoc. To prevent such situation, browser caching must be promoted so that whenever a user visits your site, instead of reloading/re-requesting the response to the server, the system shows a temp. file created during caching. Simplify this task by using some advanced plugins although this process is best for your site if you are not into changing its design every now and then.

5. Leverage Your Site’s Database

Regularly check your database for any unnoticed and non-relevant activities in order to ensure its smooth running. In case you have already added plugins or doing experiments on your site that resulted in unnecessary database entries, you do need to optimize.

6. Include Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Also called content distribution networks, CDN refers to a network of servers that are actively used to simplify the content delivery. You might be knowing that a number of copies of your site are stored in multiple geographical locations such that the users can have an easy access to your site. These CDNs are capable of distributing the load on the server by storing static resources of your site. CDN acts as a powerful tool in materializing the backend speed of your site and some of the common plugins that could help you are CloudFlare and MaxCDN.

7.Optimize Images

High-resolution pictures on the site are often referred to as one of the contributing factors to its slower performance. Evidently, these HD pictures take a longer time to load as compared to the optimized images. Also, the irrelevant large-sized files attached on the pages may also result in lapsed speed. Remember to use PNG format for the graphics while for photographs, go for the JPEG format as this format is favorable to be published on the web. There is one add-on CSS sprites that is majorly used to create templates for the mostly used images of the site like buttons, icons, etc. This function helps in grouping all the images into a single large image which loads instantly in a single click. This means lesser HTTP requests were sent and thus, saving a lot of time that would have been wasted while multiple images were loaded at once.

8. Customize Your Homepage

Amid all these, do not forget to optimize your homepage. This is one of the easiest ways to boost the page loading speed of a site. If you are confused about where to start first, here are some tips:

(i) While posting blogs on the homepage, publish only summary or excerpts and limit the number of posted blogs.

(ii) Minimize the use of widgets, use them only when they are most needed.

(iii) Delete or remove plugins that are inactive or not in use anymore.

9. Specify dimensions of image
Each time a site is opened in a browser, it seems to analyze the web page on certain grounds. Out of them, one is image dimension which should be specified using some image attributes. In case you have already specified the dimensions through CSS, then you need not to do any other changes.

10.Defer parsing of JavaScript
For smooth running of a webpage, the browser is expected to parse all the content of tags as they lead to added time required for page loading. By reducing the amount of JavaScript, suspend the parsing of irrelevant JavaScript to amplify the speed of page loading in the beginning. Other than this, there are other ways, out of which one is to defer loading JavaScript and the other is to use attribute wherever required.

11. Serve Scaled Images
In case you have responsive images on your site, you need a specific browser to scale those images. Most of the site owners are already practicing this so that whenever a mobile user accesses your site it does not scale the desktop-sized image in place of mobile size image.

12. Avoid a character set in the meta tag
Mentioning character set in a meta tag results in disabling the lookahead downloader in Internet Explorer 8. So in order to improve resource download process, place the character set into HTTP.

13. Avoid CSS @import
If you have used CSS@import in the external stylesheet, it can also contribute to the delay in loading of web pages. CSS@import initiates the import of stylesheets and loading multiple stylesheets in parallel add to the processing, thus increasing page load speed.
So avoid using it as much as possible.

14. Inline small CSS & JavaScript
The small CSS and JavaScript files sometime make delay in the processing as they might not be at one single destination. So either inline these small CSS files and JavaScript files or combine them together.

15. Specify a character set early
Defining the character set on the server level reduces browser processing which gets applied to all pages. It is important to specify the character set or else the browser keeps processing on its own. This takes time and thus, influencing the page load speed.

16. Specify a cache validator
Each of the static resources must have Last-modified or the ETag header to smoothen the process of availing the benefits of caching.

17. Minify JavaScript
Minifying JavaScript codes can eventually save a lot of data, thus amplifying the speed of browsing, downloading, uploading, implementation, parsing, etc.

18. Static resources must be devoid of query strings
Generally, proxies do not cache resources with “?” characters in their URL and to enable the caching of proxies, you need to delete query strings from the references available to the static resources.

19. Avoid bad requests
No wonder the website changes with the time being, which eventually leads to the removal or replacement of certain resources. And now if you don’t update the front-end code of your database, the server will continually display the issue “Not Found” or “Error 404″ which is quite awful. These irrelevant displays lead to badly influencing the browser processing which results in bad user experience and site crash. In simple words, remove all broken links, errors, and unwanted codes for long run.

20.Avoid landing page redirects

Redirecting links on the landing page add to the delay in page loading which results in poor visibility and user experience. By the time page is loading, the users can see nothing on the display. Most of the times, these redirect links are removed without doing any significant change in the coding. The removal of HTTP redirects between the two URLs helps in reducing the time required to load them.

21.Enable Keep-Alive

By enabling the HTTP Keep-Alive, you can easily set a unified TCP connection to send and receive different HTTP requests, which reduces the extra time required to process every single request specifically.

22. Minimize request size

The best size for an HTTP ranges around 1 packet but nowadays, the popularly used networks possesses requests up to 1500 bytes. So it is mostly advised to compact the requests to less than 1500bytes.

23. Optimize the order of styles and scripts

Systematic categorization of external styles, scripts leads to better placing of downloads which ultimately improves the browser speed. Most of the time, these JavaScript codes can influence the content and layout of the web page.

24. Put CSS in the document head

Placing the inline style blocks and elements from body of the document helps in leveraging the performance of the site.

25. Serve resources from a consistent URL

Most of the time, it is necessary to give reference from the same resource even when it is present in the multiple places in the page. Images are the best example to be covered under this.

26. Prefer asynchronous resources
Generally whenever a browser parses a script tag, it waits till the script gets downloaded, parsed and executed before any HTML can be added. But in the case of asynchronous resources, the browser continues parsing and adding HTML even when the script is still running to get completed. Moreover, when a script is loaded asynchronously, it can be extracted without any delay.

27. Specify a Vary: Accept-Encoding header

Many a times, the persistence of bugs in some of the public proxies may result in an unintentional serving of compressed resources to the user who actually do not use compression-friendly system. This advanced header sends instructions to the proxy to save both the compressed and uncompressed version of the resource.

28. Integrate Lightweight Theme
Use a lightweight theme that matches your requirement and not the one that contains features that are of no use to you. As any form of unwanted JavaScript, images, stylesheets, images, graphics may put more load on your server or system, so it is better to add the theme which is both simple and responsive.

29. Pick the fast Web Host
Generally, the favorable server response time calculated is 200ms which goes wrong for sites that are on a shared hosting. If you want your site to run smoothly and steadily for a long run, then find a suitable web host. In the case you still have to go for the shared hosting, wisely pick the hosting package that includes optimum space resulting in fast loading of sites.

30. Remove unused CSS
The accumulation of style rules that are of no use in the site affects its performance and delays the loading time. So the best method to avoid such situation is to minimize or remove the CSS that are not in use anymore.

Final Words!!!

Google’s PageSpeed Insights is an ultimate method of reviewing and knowing your website. As it highlights all the small and big issues that have been contributing to the slow down of your site. Moreover, the suggestions it gives are of great help to start the mitigation process soon. So being a responsible site owner, you must use this speed checker tool and know about how your site is performing.

If you still have any doubts, queries or suggestions, you can share your views in the comment section below.

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