Speed Up Your Site’s Load Time!

Picture this- a visitor clicks on your link in search results. Choosing you over 10 similar sites. He clicks and waits-and waits- your site is taking ages to load- more than 15 seconds now- the user hits the “back” button.

You lost a visitor due to the slow loading speed of your site. In fact you may be losing many visitors due to this everyday! It is quite a possibility that your site’s speed could be impacting the number of visitors you get.

The Google Aspect To Site Speed

Now, as a webmaster, you must not concern about your site’s loading speed just because of visitors leaving before you’ve had your say. The thing to be noted is that now Google includes a site’s loading time in the list of ranking factors. Google announced that the Page Rank formula will now have the site’s loading speed as a determinant. In a new Webmaster Tools blog post, this was pointed out by the search giant. This means that you need to improve your site’s speed not only for visitors but also to make Google happy!

Improve On Your Caching -Doing this really helps. You need to turn PHP into quick HTML. When a PHP script comes in, it is parsed by the web server and then the HTML data is send to the web browser. This process takes time as the server memory is used here, and consequently you site loads slowly. You can take the help of plugins and tools such as WP Super Cache to turn PHP into quick HTML. When you are using this cache plugin, the page you are viewing, does not use the database any longer, the pages load faster and and the server is ready for more traffic.

Use CSS Sprites – Images take a lot of time loading. Enter CSS Sprites- these are the best loved method for reducing the number of image requests. All you need is a knowledge of the code and you can combine the background images into a single image. Then with the CSS background-image and background-position properties, you can display the desired image segment.

JavaScript In The Footer – JavaScripts block parallel downloads. Now browsers do not download more than two components in parallel for each host (for script, the browser won’t start any other downloads, even on different hostnames). This measn that when the Javascript is being loaded, the rest of the page has to wait in line- the result the page loads slowly. So what you can do is move scripts to the footer. Just cut all scripts from the head section of your HTML and and paste it before the closing body tag.

Combine External JavaScript and CSS– The key is to deploy the JavaScript and CSS as external files. This results in faster pages mainly for the reason that the JavaScript and CSS files are cached by the browser.

If JavaScript and CSS are inlined in HTML documents get downloaded every time the HTML document is requested- even though this lessens the number of HTTP requests, but the size of HTML document is increased.

Whereas, if the JavaScript and CSS are in external files cached by the browser, not only does the number of HTTP requests comes down, but so does the size of the HTML document.

Also, there is no purpose of having multiple CSS stylesheets. You can reduce the number of browser requests by combining them into one. This way you will save the time that it takes to request another URL , and hampers website speed.

Combine the style.css, print.css, and ie-fix.css into one single style.css.

Reduce DNS Lookups-

You must make a note that whenever a new domain or subdomain is requested, it must be looked up for DNS information. For this the browser connects to the domain’s IP address at the server that it is hosted on. The browser can’t download anything from this hostname until the DNS lookup is completed. If you have too many lookups, then the page will load slowly.

To avoid DNS lookups, you can store the references or imaged that you have from some other site, on onto your own server and host it from there. Avoiding DNS lookups cuts response times, but at the same time it reduces parallel downloads too-which causes an increase in response times.

Some experts advise domain lookups while using an analytics script-like Google Analytics, WordPress.com Stats, etc.

Gzip Components-

Compression reduces the response times by reducing the size of the HTTP response. The pages are compressed before being sent to the user. The server compresses the file, and sends to the client’s system a compressed version of hte page. The client’s browser then uncompress it and display the page. Gzip is the preferred compression method as it reduces the response size by about 70%. No wonder that 90% of Internet traffic claim to support gzip. While using Apache, the module configuring gzip depends on your version: Apache 1.3 uses mod_gzip while Apache 2.x uses mod_deflate.

You must remember that if you Gzip as many file types as possible, you will see a definite reduction in page weight and a speedier loading.

Avoid Redirects – You have used a redirect too on your site- it is a common practice. Sometimes, you connect an old web site to a new one; or sometimes you connect different parts of a website and direct the user there. Redirects may be making the work easier for developers, but it degrades the user experience.

The reason is that redirects really inflate page load times. When you insert a redirect between the user and the HTML document, nothing can be done till the HTML document arrives. So avoid redirects as much as possible.

Speed Up The Loading Of Images and Videos – Images and videos take a lot of time to load. Even the Ads on your site can slow down the loading time. So what you can do here is compress and shrink them to the right size. Image maps is an excellent option here, as they combine multiple images into a single image. With the number of HTTP requests reduced, the loading time of the page is speedier . Make a note that image maps only work if the images are contiguous in the page, such as in a navigation bar.

You can also optimize images, by checking the GIFs to verify if they are using a palette size corresponding to the number of colors in the image. You can also convert GIFs to PNGs for better results.

Analytics Programs – While extremely helpful and useful, analytics can take a long time to load up. Save yourself some headaches by eliminating the code for any analytics programs you’re not using. You also may want to switch to an asynchronous tracking code to speed things up.

Additional Tips– You can opt for hardcoding header, footer, and sidebars. By doing this, you will allow them to load faster. Cleaning up your database is also recommended. However you must optimize it regularly. Here are helpful plugins to do this.

Also, if your hosting server is slow, you can’t do much can you? Have a good host, or you can set up a proxy server to act as a bridge between your host server and your site visitors. For the same- consider these-Squid Cache and Cloudflare.

Eliminate the codes of Analytics programs you are not using. To speed things up, try this-asynchronous tracking code.

To Conclude:

Reducing the number of HTTP requests in your page is the key. Keep this guidance factor in your mind to work on making your site faster.

Here are a few helpful write ups-