How to speed up your website (and rank better on Google)

31 May 2016

We all know that it’s important for our web pages to load fast if we’re going to provide our users with a high-quality on-site experience, but did you know that Google actually penalises sites from ranking highly if they are sluggish to load?

In this guide we’ll show you some quick and easy ways to diagnose the performance of your website, along with some tricks you can use to help speed it up.

Start with Google’s Page Speed Insights tool

Google actually offers a tool that provides you an assessment of whether your pages are loading at a level they consider “speedy”. The Google Page Speed Insights tool is a free-to-use tool that you can use to diagnose whether your page-load times on mobile and desktop devices are up to scratch. Simply paste the link of the page you’re looking to review and you’ll be provided with a summary of the items you can improve. Easy!

Limit unnecessary requests to your server

Every time you visit a page on a website, that page has to make a number of requests to the server to load all the elements required to display that page in full. In technical speak, these are called “HTTP requests”.

As you can imagine, a page that requires 60 HTTP requests to load is going to take more time to load than a page that only requires 20 HTTP requests to get the same job done. However, you may be asking: “How can I load the same content with so many fewer requests?” The answer is simple; it comes down to good web development.

So if you’re new to web development, have suffered a rankings drop in recent times, or are looking to improve the way you do business, I strongly suggest getting in contact with an organisation that specialises in assisting clients with speeding up their website performance.

Get technical with “Developer Tools”

Just because you’re not a professional developer doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to get in there and at least understand why your site may be loading slowly.

Modern browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, and Edge have what’s called Developer Tools functionality. Developer Tools allow you to see which elements on your pages are taking the most time to load, and may provide the most benefit if improved, removed, or replaced with something else. I recommend opening up your Developer Tools and checking out the Network tab for a really nice visualisation of what’s happening when your pages are loading.

Easy wins: Fast loading images

One of the most common areas of concern we see on client websites is that they upload images to their site with really large file sizes and their pages begin to load slowly.

If you’re uploading larger images, try to “save your images for web”. This process is a feature that can be found in versions of Photoshop and is priceless. Make sure your images are cropped to the size you want them to display at, as this can also save you a lot of load time.

Feeling adventurous? Try CSS Sprites. Basically this is an advanced web development technique you can use to display selected certain parts of an image. The benefit is that you can combine multiple images into one, and only make one request to the server yet display all the images exactly as you would normally. Cool huh?

Paul Dunstone

Managing Director at Form Crowd

Paul is passionate about helping business optimise the way they work, with a focus on increased return on investment in the digital space.

As Form Crowd’s Managing Director, Paul is responsible for the overall day-to-day business operations at Form Crowd, and works with business people of all levels to help streamline their internal operations.

Form Crowd is a Brisbane-based specialist digital agency that offers services in the web development, systems integration, and custom application development spaces for both government and private sector clients.

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