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10 Tips for Reducing Page Load Time

Lucy Griffiths

by Lucy Griffiths on 16th December 2009

There are literally dozens of factors that affect a site’s speed. Here we’ve identified 10 of the biggest issues and tips on how you can go about resolving them.

With the Google Caffeine update likely to incorporate page load time as a ranking factor, the need to increase site speed has rarely been greater. The vast majority of sites will have something that is slowing their page load times, so it’s important that you are able to identify these and make the changes required to boost your site’s speed.

Developing the ideas from our previous post, entitled ‘Testing and Fixing Site Speed Issues’, we’ll look to help you to identify what is holding your site back with the following 10 tips:

Clean Up HTML
You’d be surprised how much of your HTML is either inaccurate or redundant. Whilst the on-page result may be unaffected, this added coding clutter will slow your site speed – if only by fractions of a second. By cleaning it up and ensuring that everything is coded as it should be you will remove any unnecessary lag.

Use Gzip Compression
When we send huge documents or a number of files in one fell swoop through email, we tend to Zip the contents to reduce the size. This allows it to be sent quicker and with fewer restrictions. At the other end the receiver decodes the zipped file and can access the complete, unabridged documents. Gzip works in much the same for websites, compressing data packets to reduce the amount of time taken to load a page.

Externalise JavaScript and CSS
Why repeat the same information across numerous pages? You can simply create JavaScript and CSS externally, then repeat as necessary across the pages of your site. By hosting content elsewhere, you don’t need to clog up individual pages and their HTML. Once data is cached by a visitor, it can then be loaded quicker elsewhere too, thus helping to speed the process up on other pages.

Include StyleScript in the Head
Any StlyeScript should be included within the Head of your HTML – i.e. at the top of the page.

Reduce the Size of Cookies
The smaller these packets of information are, the less time they require to load. So where possible, keep your cookies as compact as possible and remove any erroneous cookie fields.

Compress CSS
Minifying your CSS will help to boost your sites performance. Whilst it won’t affect the way your website looks or feels, it will help to keep everything as svelte and streamlined as possible.

Clean JavaScript
Any scripting can inherit redundant codes, particularly those that have been developed and edited over time. Cleaning JavaScript can have the same performance enhancing effect as doing the same for HTML, so it is well worth considering.

Image Scaling and Optimising
Don’t use your HTML to scale down images. In effect this will still have the same file size as the larger image, only in a smaller form. So do all your resizing offline before adding to the site and look to optimise or compress them where possible.

Load Images as Required
For larger pages with lots of images, you don’t necessarily want them all to load at once. An image loader script will only load images when a visitor scrolls down to it, so there are no wasted seconds when loading a page for pictures that may never be viewed.

Reduce Redirects (301 and 302) and Broken Links (404)
Where possible you need to ensure that all your links are pointing at live pages and the correct links. Re-directs may be simple, but they also slow down your site speed. So if a page’s URL is changed, you need to change all links (at least internally) to avoid 301’s. Likewise if a URL is defunct, remove it from the site and all links leading to it.

Lucy Griffiths

Lucy Griffiths

Lucy is an Internet Search Specialist focusing and working with clients on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) strategies.

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