14 Ways To Improve Page Speed For Faster Load Time

What is Page Speed?

The speed of a page is determined by how fast its content loads.

There is confusion between page speed and “site speed,” which describes the speed of a sample of pages on a website. Page speed can be measured either by “page load time” (the time it takes the browser to receive the first byte of data from the server) or by “time to first byte” (the time it takes the browser to display the full content of a specific page).

Google’s PageSpeed Insights allows you to evaluate the speed of your page. DOMContentLoaded (DCL) and First Contentful Paint (FCP), two of the most important speed metrics, are applied to PageSpeed Insights Speed Score.

How Page Speed Affects SEO & Google Rankings

Site speed has been a direct ranking factor since 2010. Google has also confirmed this in the Google Search Central Blog. Here’s how Google explained the importance of site speed:

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. But faster sites don’t just improve user experience; recent data shows that improving site speed also reduces operating costs.

In other words, Google doesn’t want slow-loading websites on page one as it results in a poor user experience.

The algorithm of Google’s search engine uses site speed (and hence page speed) as a ranking signal. The general thought is that a website should load within three seconds. If your site takes longer to load than three seconds, then it can have a negative impact on your rankings. 

There has also been research showing that Google might be measuring time to the first byte when considering page speed. Furthermore, if your page is slow, search engines will crawl fewer pages using their crawl budget, which will adversely impact indexation.

The following are some of the many ways to speed up your website:

How To Improve Page Speed

1. Use a fast host or configure a fast infrastructure

In order to optimize page speed, you need the right infrastructure. Make sure that your web stack is optimized for speed. Invest in a high-performance, dedicated server for your site. Using shared servers can slow down your website even when it has a clean design and optimized code. Stay up-to-date with the latest technologies. Also, optimize your caching. 

2. Use a CDN

How can you speed up the loading time of a web page? Reduce the distance that information has to travel between your server and your end-user. Sounds logical, right? Well, you can achieve this by using a CDN. There are various types of Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), such as geographically distributed servers (also called POPs). Together, they make web content easier to deliver. Using a CDN increases the performance of any website, regardless of whether it uses HTML, JavaScript, stylesheets, images, or videos.

3. Compress files using Gzip

A server-side compression method known as GZip is useful in reducing page loading times. By doing this, it allows users to receive data in a more streamlined, efficient way. The Gzip compression method reduces the size of your HTML, stylesheets, and JavaScript files. Images and videos will not be compressed, as they are already compressed separately. 

Fortunately, major CDNs offer GZip compression by default, so if you’re using a CDN, you’re already covered.

4. Cut down on HTTP requests

Reducing the number of HTTP requests a page makes is one of the most effective ways to improve page load time. In order to view a web page, the browser sends pings to the web server in order to obtain the content files. 

The browser renders the content of the page as soon as the server sends the requested files. Each file on the page is requested individually by the browser. More files on the page mean more HTTP requests, so your web page will take longer to load.

6. Streamline HTML code

You can speed up your site by streamlining your HTML code. Bloated HTML increases the amount of data that users see. DOM manipulation can also affect JavaScript performance. When you find that you have 5,000 or 6,000 lines of code before any content on your HTML pages (yes, this does happen, even at Fortune 500 companies), you have bloated HTML.

7. Minify CSS and JavaScript

When you optimize your code (including removing spaces and commas), you can dramatically increase page speed. Delete unused code, formatting, and comment lines. Google suggests using CSSNano and UglifyJS.

8. Optimize images

Your images should not be bigger than they need to be, be in the right file format (PNGs are generally better for graphics with fewer than 16 colors, while JPEGs are generally better for photographs), and be compressed for the web.

You can use CSS sprites to create a template for images you frequently use on your sites, such as buttons and icons. By using CSS sprites, your images are combined into one large image that loads in one go (reducing the number of HTTP requests) and then you can display only the sections you want to see. Therefore, you save users’ load time by not making them wait for several images to load.

10. Clean up your media library

Your media library is likely to have become cluttered over time with old images and unused images. This clutters up your website. You can speed up average page loading times by deleting unnecessary images and other media files from your media library.

11. Perform a database cleanup

The same can be said of your database: it can become bloated over time with unused information like photos, files, and 

The process of optimizing your database involves identifying and eliminating unused data and content. This, in turn, improves the efficiency with which your web hosting server retrieves data.

12. Remove render-blocking JavaScript

Browsers have to parse HTML to build a DOM tree before they can render a page. During this process, if your browser encounters a script, it must execute it before it can continue.

Google recommends avoiding and minimizing the use of blocking JavaScript.

13. Avoid URL redirects

URL redirects are instructions or methods that take a user automatically from one URL to another. Redirects can be implemented in a variety of ways. In order to maintain the SEO value of a forwarding page, 301 redirects are used. No matter what type of redirect you use, this process slows down your website because going from one file to another requires time. Whenever possible, try to avoid or minimize the number of URL redirects.

14. Use Expires Headers    

Your website’s expired headers will reduce the time it takes for returning visitors to load the page. Browsers are instructed either to request a file from the server or to pull it from their cache. This speeds up website load time by reducing the number of downloads from the server and HTTP requests.

There are often dozens of files on a modern website. Large files especially add to loading time. However, transmitting each file also requires an additional request to the server, which extends the process. 

The expires header instructs the browser to store a file in the cache on your Mac (or any other device) for a specified period of time, so future visits to the page by the same computer will not need to download new files.

Page Load Time Testing Tools

Below are some tools that you can use as a site owner, webmaster, or web author to evaluate your site’s speed:

  • Page Speed: Firefox/Firebug add-on that evaluates the performance of web pages and suggests ways to improve them.
  • YSlow: A tool from Yahoo! that suggests ways to speed up your website.
  • WebPagetest: This tool displays a waterfall diagram of the load performance of your pages as well as an optimization checklist.
  • Webmaster Tools‘ Labs > Site Performance displays the speed of your website as experienced by users around the world.

Other tools on code.google.com/speed.

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