The Lowdown on Website Load Speed

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The loading time of your website is an important factor that determines its overall success. As people generally prefer sites which load fast, they tend to lose their patience when they come across a site or a blog that responds slowly.

A study reveals that 40 percent of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. And a 1-second delay in page response decreases customer satisfaction by 16 percent, which in turn results in a 7 percent reduction in conversions.

Website load speed is an important factor for search engine rankings, conversions, and the perception of your brand. Reducing a website’s loading time improves its overall quality and performance, so it is vital to keep a check on your page load time.

You can use the following ways to boost your website’s load speed performance:

Determine your page load speed

The first step towards speeding up your website’s performance is to determine the page load speed. There are several tools to help you with this and among them Google Pagespeed Insights, YSlow by Yahoo, WebPage Test, and GTmetrix are notable ones.

Through Google PageSpeed Insights, you can determine which components are slowing down your site. YSlow enables you to analyze your page speed based on a variety of criteria, while WebPageTest gives you a clear picture of your website’s performance.

Optimize images

Having large images on your webpages will drastically reduce your site’s speed. You can make use of image compressors and other advanced tools to balance file sizes and screen depiction. These tools will remove the unnecessary bytes from your image files, thereby reducing the size of your images without affecting the pictures’ quality.

Minify CSS and JavaScript files

Code, which is not consolidated (especially CSS and JavaScript files), may sometimes slow down your site’s load speed. For this, you are required to utilize JavaScript and CSS compression tools that clear up the unnecessary portions of your code.

Some of these automated tools are Minify, Google Closure Compiler, SquishIt, and YUI Compressor. These tools alter your files before you upload them onto your server, eventually decreasing the file size and allowing for increased website load speed.

Combine CSS and JavaScript files to minimize HTTP requests

Minimize the number of objects on your webpages to decrease the HTTP requests that are needed to deliver your page. For  reducing the HTTP requests, you can either combine and compress all CSS and JavaScript files or combine all the CSS media styles into one big file. Convert graphical text to CSS text and remove frames and Javascript codes. Group together all the external images, scripts, and CSS files, too.

Inline CSS and JavaScript files

You can minimize your page load time by inlining small CSS and JavaScript files into the main HTML page. Housing all your CSS and JavaScript files externally can enhance your website’s performance to a great extent. This is because the user’s browser will cache the external CSS and JavaScript files by default.

Monitor your server’s performance

There are various tools available that monitor your server’s performance and point out the areas that cause trouble, helping you make the necessary changes. Many open source and freeware server and network monitoring tools like Collectd, Zenoss, Nagios, etc., are available.

Google has incorporated website load speed as one of the ranking factors in search algorithm. By focusing on the factors mentioned above, you will witness a drastic improvement in your site’s performance.

Brian Taylor
Brian Taylor is the VP, Business Development at Forix SEO in Portland, OR. Forix offers affordable and ethical SEO services in Portland helping small businesses... Read Full Bio
Brian Taylor

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  • Thanks for the post. Pingdom also has a great tool that tests, keeps track of historical results automatically, and tells you want to do to fix the slow parts.

    • Hi, Brian. Thanks for the helpful information.

      I’m in agreement with the comment about It’s an excellent tool with plenty of helpful suggestions. I’ve used it to track the results of my page-load speed and to figure out exactly what was slowing it down.

      Thanks again for the post.

      Jamie Turner

  • Keyword Name Removed

    Great list of tools to improve the “page load time ” of a website Brian. I wish website owners concentrate or focus mainly on showing the website as soon as possible to their users rather than trying to make the site too flashy with too much of javascript and flash. This also makes it difficult for the search engine crawlers to crawl and index the content on the site.

  • Thanks Brian,
    For sharing a great post on what tools can be helpful in checking my websites loading speed, also thanks to Patrick for the tip on Pingdom. Cool information!

  • Brian, These are great tips, YSlow is a pretty nice tool for web page loading test. Thanks

  • Galit

    A nice and good post.. I use crome for developers and watch the waterfalls with Http Archive Viewer.
    For websites speed up I use also “content first” technique , and gradually declining inline, those two elements make all the difference between usual speed acceleration and extraordinary speed acceleration.

  • I’ve always thought that people spend too much time worrying about this. Interesting that Google Labs pulled this from GWT a few months back.

    Extremely bad PageSpeed will cause lower ranking. Faster sites won’t necessarily get a boost

  • Great article! Tag management also greatly increases page load speed.

  • Pingdom is a great tool we use it all the time to tweak the loading performance of new sites.
    We work on websites for companies in the middle east, Dubai and Abu Dhabi mostly. One of the issues we face with the page load speed is that if we host the site locally the pages load nice and quickly for the site users locally but google and other tools like pingdom show a slow load time.
    How much impact will a slow loading site as seen by google effect the site rankings?