In April Google officially announced they were integrating loading time into their algorithm. As they put it, “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.”
There are plenty of reasons a website could slow down such as large images, too many Flash files, video the list can go on and on. With that being said, there are plenty of tools and tactics to use to improve loading time for your clients webpage.
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People are impatient. We want things when we what them, and usually don’t want to wait for them. The same is true with loading times. If a user goes to a website, chances are you have less than a couple seconds for them to wait on your page to load.
According to Jakob Nielsen, you can break down the user experience into three time periods:
It’s not too hard to improve your page loading speed. Just follow the steps given below and you can improve your loading speed in no time.
This is an easy step, and should be something you have in the back of your mind when coding a new site. You don’t want your code to look messy, or have any extra div files. The more basic your code is, the faster the loading time. It should look clean crisp and white.
“For a more definitive marker, if your page HTML is over 30kB-50kB, then you have an issue you need to address. This can be checked in the Web Developer extension for Firefox and Chrome,” says Kristine Schachinger of SearchEngineWatch.
HTML is not the only code that should be clean—make sure your style sheets are in order as well. Keeping things neat and organized should ensure a faster loading time. When implementing large photo files, use a compressed file instead. This will also keep your CSS more clean and help with loading time.
This is a big one. The more HTTP requests you have the longer your loading time. Below is a screenshot to help you better visualize how HTTP requests work.
Hopkins goes on to say that most DSL/cable Internet connections, “have asymmetric bandwidth, at rates like 1.5Mbit down/128Kbit up, 6Mbit down/512Kbit up, etc. Ratios of download to upload bandwidth are commonly in the 5:1 to 20:1 range. ” To summarize, this means the requests can take the same amount of time to send as it would to display an object that is 5-20 times the request size.
One way to speed up your site if you do have multiple images is to set your keepalive active. “The Keep-Alive extension to HTTP/1.0 and the persistent connection feature of HTTP/1.1 provide long-lived HTTP sessions which allow multiple requests to be sent over the same TCP connection. In some cases this has been shown to result in an almost 50% speedup in latency times for HTML documents with many images. Toenable Keep-Alive connections, set KeepAlive On,” according to apache.org.
When sending HTTP requests, many people implement caches to help with load time. This can be a great fix, but if you update your images and other cached items, it could actually take longer. “Even though the browser has the logo, it doesn’t know whether the image can be used. After all, the file may have changed on the server and there could be an updated version,” reports betterexplained.com.
You can get around this however in a few different ways. One being with an ETAg—which, “allows a client to make conditional requests. This allows caches to be more efficient, and potentially saves bandwidth, as a web server does not need to send a full response if the content has not changed. ”’
You can also have it figured so that the browser checks for the date of when the file was last modified. This can be a good fix, but the ETag is more preferred because of situations such as day light savings, the initial clock was wrong when programming etc.
When using XHTML you can streamline your code to ensure your HTTP requests are limited. An example of this is below:
Even better, XSSI these files directly into high traffic pages, like this:
With all this being said, how will you monitor your efforts? There are plenty of tools out there to help you manage your loading time. The most common 4 programs (and all are recommended by Google) are:
Other tools include:
Remember that loading time is not the end all be all for your SEO efforts. It is just one piece of the pie. Doing all you can to stay on top of Google’s ever elusive algorithm only helps matters. Let us know in the comments below what you are doing to quicken your clients loading time.
Please feel free to share any tips, tricks or technique that you think would be a great addition in above article and that has not been told already.