Search Engine Optimization

#9  Optimize page loading time

Optimize page loading time

A fast website keeps your audience’s interest

The time it takes for the web page content to load is known as page load time. There are two primary methods for measuring page speed:

  • Page load time: This measures the duration between the moment the browser sends the request to the server and when the page is completely loaded and rendered.
  • Time to first byte: This measures the duration between the moment the request is sent to the server and when the browser receives the first data byte.

Faster page speed is preferred in either case, though it is important to note that Google evaluates a page’s speed based on time to the first byte, also known as TTFB.

Male runner just about to start on a 400 meters running track.

Why does page load time matter?

The speed at which a web page loads is critical to its usability, as it can significantly affect user experience and a website’s position in search results. Google considers page speed one of the 200 factors impacting a site’s organic ranking. If a website takes too long to load, it risks losing visitors to competitors.

Fast page load time can also increase a site’s crawl rate, allowing Google to crawl more pages simultaneously.

The hosting company and package chosen can also affect a site’s speed. For those using WordPress as a CMS, Managed WordPress Hosting may be a beneficial option for saving time and getting expert advice.

How to improve your page load time

Optimizing your website’s images reduces bandwidth usage and improves page loading times. Simply downsizing images in HTML will not suffice, as it only changes the appearance and not the actual size of the image. To resize images, use external picture editor tools like Photoshop and set them to 72 dpi.

Moreover, image optimization tools can compress images further to reduce their size. Some recommended optimization tools are:

Standard image formats such as JPG, PNG, and GIF have been optimal for a long time for optimized page loading times.

However, the newer WebP image format is gaining popularity due to its better lossless and lossy compression of images. It can help save server disk space and reduce bandwidth usage by up to 35% while maintaining image quality. But, it’s important to note that all browsers and image editors do not support WebP. Thus, you should ensure its technical compatibility before switching from JPEG and PNG to WebP.

Optimize dependencies

The speed of your website can be negatively affected by various elements such as plugins, tracking scripts, and CMS software. Although some plugins are necessary, they may cause your page to load slowly.

It is advisable to explore alternatives to plugins, for example, using a CMS with built-in social plugins. While tracking your website’s traffic statistics is essential, using multiple tracking software can slow down your page loading time. If you are using a CMS such as WordPress, it is recommended to use either WordPress stats or Google Analytics, but not both simultaneously.

To enhance the speed of your site, keep your CMS software up to date but perform upgrades on a separate server to test them first.

Another way to provide Google with specific information about your site’s content is by using schema markup, which enables you to classify the details and context of your site’s information more precisely.

Avoid inline JS and CSS files

Placing your website’s JS and CSS in external files is a good practice. By doing so, the browser can cache these files externally when the page loads, which can decrease the page load time on subsequent requests. Additionally, having the JS and CSS files externally makes site maintenance easier.

Optimize caching

Each time a user loads a website, the web page’s CSS, image files, and Java files are also loaded, causing the page to load slowly. The browser can store these files for later requests by correctly setting up caching. This means that on subsequent page loads, these files can be retrieved from the cache instead of being downloaded again from the network, reducing page load time and lowering bandwidth and hosting costs.

Avoid render blocking scripts

Place JavaScript files at the end of the body or use the ‘async’ attribute to load them asynchronously.

Avoid redirects

Reducing the use of redirects can improve the loading speed of a website. While some redirects are necessary, it is essential to note that each redirect adds an extra HTTP request, which can increase the page load time. Therefore, it is recommended to minimize the number of redirects used. It is also crucial to regularly check for any broken links on the website and to fix them promptly to prevent any potential redirects to broken pages.

Set up C-zip encoding

Your website’s large files can be compressed, much like how you can zip and compress files on your computer to decrease their overall size when sending them online. This compression technique, known as G-Zip Compression, can help conserve bandwidth, shorten download times, and improve your page’s loading speed. It’s recommended that you set up your server to provide zipped content.

Minification of JavaScript and CSS

Minification is the process of compressing the code by renaming variables to shorter names which helps to reduce its size and the subsequent loading time. You can use uglify.js for this.

Reduce HTTP requests

To decrease the number of image requests on your website, consider utilizing CSS Sprites. This involves merging multiple background images into one image using CSS’s background image and background-position elements. You can also consolidate inline images within your cached stylesheets. Additionally, to further optimize your website’s performance, combine all JavaScript files into one and all CSS files into another.

Reduce cookie size

Consider eliminating redundant cookies or decreasing their overall size to improve your website’s loading speed. Cookies are commonly used to store information that must persist between requests, but the data they contain is sent with every request, which can slow down loading times if the cookies are large. By reducing the size of cookies, you can decrease the amount of data being transferred and improve your page’s loading speed.