Website Speed Optimisation Best Practices
Website speed has moved up a few notches as a ranking factor in the past year. We all know its importance both for users and search engines. But still many websites are lacking in speed and have very slow loading time. Most of the clients we deal with have the same issue, and among all the things that can help improve a site speed there are a few that stand out as being neglected but can greatly improve the website speed. We will take a look at the most neglected parts of website speed optimisation, as they can be easily implemented and will mean a lot for your website performance.
Number of HTTP requests
This is the number one error for most websites. Webmasters and bloggers put too many things on their websites that even though the size of the webpage itself is not big it takes time for the server to respond to all those requests.
With WordPress this is mostly due to the number of plugins you have installed. Eliminating the less needed ones and leaving just the necessary and useful ones should cut the number of requests. The same goes for any scripts, css files, as well as images. A great number images, no matter how small they are, will cause a great number of http requests thus increasing the loading time of the page.
Aside the number of images, which should be considered when building a website, you should also take care of image optimisation. Aide best SEO practices for image optimisation one of the things you need to think about is the format and size of the image correlating to quality of the same. Best format to use is .jpg and in case you don’t know how to optimize your images and lower the size there are several websites you can use, jpeg mini, image optimiser tool, yahoo smush.it.
Minimize all source files
For both images and your source code files it is best to use Gzip to compress the files and thus lower the overall sizes of the files before delivering them to your users. If you have an apache server this is very easy, some hosting systems offer this as a service, so all you have to do is click the option, others may have the functionality but you will need to edit your .htaccess file in order to enable Gzip-ing.
Other site speed best practices
Although these are not the top issues like the ones mentioned above which most website deal with, some do run into problems like these, for one, stylsheet references at the bottom instead of the <head> section. If you fail to do that you will be serving unstyled html code to your users for a few seconds, and at the end load your styles, no point in doing that, is there?
The opposite goes for external scripts, many webmasters put analytics and other scripts in the <head> section. This is not the best practice as these scripts are not important for your content and for the users, so you can leave them to be loaded last.
There are plenty of tools to help you with speed optimisation, like page speed from Google, to make start working on your website speed you should first check it. The easiest way to do it is to look at the performance tab in Google Webmaster Tools, but you can use other tools like Pingdom speed test tool and GTmetrix.