For optimized loading time of your page it is ideal to stick to standard image formats such as JPG, PNG and GIF.
A site that requires plugins may slow your page loading speed. Not all plugins are unnecessary; for example, social share plugins which are a must-have for every site these days. That said, always check to see if there is a better alternative to the plugin, such as using a CMS with built-in social plugins.
While it is wise to keep tabs on your website’s traffic stats, it is not advisable to use multiple tracking softwares as this may hinder the page load time. If you are using a CMS such as WordPress, you should allow either WP stats to run scripts on your page or Google Analytics, but not both.
If you are using a CMS such as WordPress it is recommended to check frequently for updates in the software but do not load these on a live website. First carry out upgrades on a separate server to test them. Keeping abreast of software updates also improves a site’s speed.
It is a good practice to place your website’s JS and CSS in external files. When the page loads the browser caches these files externally and reduces the page load time on subsequent requests. Moreover, having the JS and CSS files externally allows for easier site maintenance.
Every time a visitor loads a site, your web page’s image files, CSS and Java files load as well, taking up a lot of page load time. When caching is set up correctly, your browser can store these resources or files for subsequent requests. On repeated page loads these files can be retrieved from the cache rather than downloading them all over again from the network. This also reduces bandwidth and hosting costs.
You can use Expires headers for static components of the site and Cache-Control headers for dynamic ones. Using these headers makes the various components of a site, including images, stylesheets, scripts and flash, cacheable. This in turn minimizes HTTP requests and thus improves the page load time. With the use of Expires headers you can actually control the length of time that components of a web page can be cached, as shown in the example below:
Expires: Wed, 20 Apr 2015 20:00:00 GMT
If your server is Apache you can set the time for cached content by using the ExpiresDefault directive. This sets the expiration date as a certain number of years from the current date:
ExpiresDefault “access plus 15 years”
Avoiding redirects increases serving speed. Some redirects are unavoidable and need to be in place but you must remember that this requires an additional HTTP which increases the page load time. Check for broken links and fix them immediately.
Similar to files on your PC that are zipped and compressed to reduce the total size during online file transfers, heavy files on your website can be zipped with something called the G-Zip Compression. This saves bandwidth and download time and reduces your page loading speed. You should configure the server so that it returns zipped content.
Minification is the process of compressing the code by renaming variables to shorter names which helps to reduce its size and the subsequent loading time. We recommend using uglify.js for this.
Cookies are used to store data that needs to persist between requests. This data is sent on every request and adds to the load time when it’s big. Hence, by reducing the size of the cookies you reduce the size of the data that is transferred and decrease the page load time. Eliminate unnecessary cookies or reduce the size of the cookies.
Learn more about important topics in SEO and digital marketing by checking out our other guides: