Website Speed: How to Check and Improve Page Speed


website speed

Website speed may soon become a ranking factor in Google. This makes sense because you want search results to appear real fast. Often you have to wait over 30 secs on a high speed connection for a page to load. Most internet users don’t have the patience to wait that long and will quickly move to another site.

How to check website or page speed

Firefox/Firebug Add Ons

Page Speed from Google
http://code.google.com/speed/page-speed/

Yahoo! YSlow
http://developer.yahoo.com/yslow/

Causes of slow website speed and how to improve it.

Flash
Have you ever waited while a flash file is being loaded? Many sites use flash as a splash page that appears first to impress you before you get to the real content. The problem is that flash slows page load times and doesn’t get indexed by the search engines.

Images
Having many images or several large images on your web page will slow it down considerably. Try to compress the images and reduce the size and number on the page.

Videos
Video files are usually very large and require a lot of bandwidth load. Servers often crash when too many visitors try to play the video at the same time. Instead of using your own server make use of fast servers by hosting your files on YouTube or Amazon.

Javascript
Many sites forget to place the javascript code in an external file thus all the code appears before the actual content. Sometimes multiple javascript files are embedded in the html. To speed up load times place all your javascript files in an external file.

Navigation menus
Sites that use javascript or flash for navigation do themselves a disservice because search engines don’t spider javascript or flash code. Use a CSS menu to make it accessible to the search engines.

Cascading Style Sheets
Instead of placing all your CSS code in the html code place it in an external file to reduce the code clutter. It will help the page to load faster.

Server Side Includes (SSI)
If you have a static site that contains 100s of pages SSI is a great way to update all the pages from one file instead of updating each page separately. It also reduces page load times.

HTML Code
HTML code errors will slow page load times. Clean code enables search engines spiders to easily crawl your web pages. Use the W3C HTML Validation Service at http://validator.w3.org/ to check your html code for errors.

Web Hosting Service
Most websites these days share the same server. If one website suddenly receives a surge in server resources it will affect all the other sites on that server. Therefore beware of web hostng companies that offer unlimited space and/or bandwidth. Check the uptime of the server your site is hosted on.

Database-driven vs Static websites
Database driven sites such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and online stores contain 100s or 1000s of files whereas static sites only have a few html files (sometimes over 100 files). This means the server has to work harder to load all the database files. Before you design or redesign your web site using database-driven software check the typical load times of example sites using the software.

Tip
If you’re planning to design or redesign your website with software make sure you test the speed of several websites using the software before investing your hard earned money. Doing a little planning ahead of time benefits you later on.

Resources
How to Calculate and Speed-Up the Download Time of Your Web Site

How to Update Your Web Site Using Server Side Includes (SSI)

http://www.isitebuild.com/serversideincludes.htm

Web Performance Best Practices (Google)

***********************
Get a Free Web Site Evaluation
and receive a list of ways to improve
the performance of your website.