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5 Hacks to improve your page speed

5 Hacks to improve your page speed

You just bought your first Subaru, and I know, I know, you prefer if the analogy was a Mercedes e250 but I’m trying to push a point through, bear with me.

You just bought your first Subaru, yes, the one that looks like a loaf of bread, yes the Forester. Well the first thing you do as a Subaru guy is buy an excessively loud exhaust, while this might not add speed it at least makes it easier to differentiate your car from a loaf on wheels. Second thing to do is to find out where Masinga is and go for time trials. Well for sure your Subaru won’t beat the regular racers but you seem to have discovered something new, all the winning Subaru’s have stickers that simulate speed. A couple of streaky graphic stickers might be the thing you need to increase your speed. Maybe just maybe if you put a blurred sticker written fast on the door, you will be faster.

Well with websites you don’t have to guess what works. Google offers you tools to optimize your page speed efficiently. In this week’s article we look at Google page speed insights and how you can use it to optimize your websites load speed. Make sure you check out our past articles 4 Rookie WordPress SEO mistakes & It really should be called Google optimization.

Page speed is one of the most key indicators Google uses to rank websites. Google’s logic is that users bounce off more from slow websites. A user will not wait 10 second for a page to load whereas the can just go back to the search results and select a faster result. Slow websites have a higher bounce rate and that has been proven by numerous research studies. If your bounce rate is high then Google will rank your site lower on the SERPs.

Knowing how important page speed is to ranking, Google offers a free tool to search for optimization opportunities for your website. When you scan your website it gives you a score out of 100 and tells you issues facing your website. The goal here should be to get as close to 100% as possible. The faster the website the better the ranking.

Google page speed insights does a good job in telling you what the problem is but not how to solve it. Web designers have to eat too and it would be well within our business model to ask you to come in for an SEO page speed Consult. In fact I still advise you to do so but since you gave me your time while I ranted about Subaru boys, here are 5 tips on how to enhance your page speed.

Compress your images

During the design of your website you might have been tempted to use the best image assets available for your site. Sure your website looks stunning but now it is slow. I can’t blame you, high quality images enhance the look of your website but do a lot of damage to your page speed. Does a compromise exist? Yes it does. One can losslessly compress images using wp-smush it plugin available on WordPress. This plugin will compress your images without any loss of quality. The space you will save will go a long way in increasing your page speed.

Leverage browse Cache

Cache allows you to load heavy files faster. On a busy website instead of rendering the page afresh for each user visiting the website, a cache of preloaded pages is created and a user gets to download these pages as they are faster. WP total cache is a free plugin that allows you to set up a cache. Once cached your page will load faster.

Also it is advisable to use JS and CSS includes from CDNs rather than from your local directory. A CDN (Content delivery network) enhances the speed in which your website assets are served. CDN servers are very fast, normally faster than yours and you get one added benefit with browser cache. For instance if you were on Facebook and their website loaded the JQUERY library from Google apis CDN, if your website uses the same script then it doesn’t have to reload the script it can just use the one loaded by Facebook.

Minify your assets

This one might be a bit tricky to execute but you guys are getting good out there, so here it goes. Computers don’t really get lost when reading code that is not readable, only humans do. For this reason a lot of blank space remains in your asset files such as your html and JavaScript. This space ends up adding on to the page load time. To avoid this ensure that you are using only minified assets.

 use jquery.min.js instead of jquery.js use bootstrap.min.css instead of bootstrap.css.

To help automate this process there is a very handy plugin called   HTML Minify . It’s available on Github and not the WordPress store. Download it and unzip it in your wp-content/plugins folder. Minify your assets using the instructions offered.

Defer load of unnecessary assets.

Assets that are not required on initial page load should be deferred until the page has loaded. This might include js files, fonts and styles. To defer add a defer tag to your include statement i.e.

<script src="demo.js" defer></script>

Any asset that is not being used on the current page should not be loaded. Be careful as there are some themes that load even the mobile assets while browsing on desktop. Comb through your theme to find unnecessary files that shouldn’t be loaded.

Reduce Redirects

Redirects add onto the time a user has to wait to load a page. If a redirect is not necessary, please avoid it by all means.

To cap it all, you should watch out for your site speed as it affects your SEO tremendously.

About the Author
Stephen Mbiyu
Stephen is a website developer with core skills in PHP, WordPress and internet marketing. He is a valued member of the Kenya Website Designers Dev team.

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