Millions of website floating on the world wide web and thousands being created every day. So how your site will make a difference and have that extra edge over the others?
I have always stressed on the site speed as a very important factor to standout from the rest. Your site speed is now a key factor in deciding your SERP and most of the search engines including Google have incorporated the site performance as a key parameter. So why not follow these few best practices to speed up your site speed.
There are quite a few tricks used and implemented by top notch sites but they have their own developers working day and night to get it right. But here are some simple tips for people like us and they are well within our reach. So lets get started and not waste any more time.
Make favicon.ico small
The favicon.ico is a mandatory image for your site and it stays in the root of your server. This is mandatory because whenever a site is loaded, all browsers make a call to retrieve favicon.ico (this name cannot be changed) and if the image file is absent then it results in 404 Not Found error. You don’t want an unnecessary 404 not found as you are wasting one http request to the server.
So to mitigate keep the size of favicon.ico less than 1K. There are plenty of tools like Picnik, Image Optimizer to optimize the size of images.
Now I could have combined the previous point and this one together but just to highlight how important it is to optimize your images before uploading on your wordpress site, I have included it as a separate point.
Images make your site look good and attractive and people just tend to upload images straight from camera to site and hope for wordpress to take care of optimization. Though wordpress image uploader does it to some extent but when you have free tools like Picnik, Imagemagick then why not use them?
Image being integral part of all websites, please make sure you compress and optimize all your images before uploading to your site.
Another cardinal sin is to scale image in HTML. Never try to scale image using the width and height property. This will kill your page loading speed.
Minimize HTTP requests
Now what is HTTP request? Whenever a page is downloaded, all the components of the page like images, stylesheets, scripts, flash etc. are downloaded. More the number of components more the number of http requests to the server to download each component and hence slower the site speed.
This is the reason why you should avoid too many plugins on your site. Each plugin loads its own CSS stylesheet, scripts and unnecessarily increase the number of HTTP requests and slowing down the performance of your website.
Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network)
A CDN is a high performance network of geographically dispersed servers that store the static assets(images, stylesheets, scripts, flash etc.) of your site. This will improve the load speed from user prespective.
This is useful only when your site is global and the traffic to your site is very high. If your site is confined to just one country then don’t bother to waste time on this.
Akamai Technologies, EdgeCast or level3 are some of the CDN providers. To integrate CDN service with WordPress you can use W3 Total Cache Plugin.
Put Stylesheets at the top
Make sure that all the stylesheet references at loaded in the header of your page. This will enable progressive loading of your page and no contents will be displayed without style at any point to the users. Also various performance research has proven that loading the stylesheet in <head> has improved the site speed.
Put scripts at the bottom
Putting scripts in the <head> or in between the content would interfere with the loading of your site contents. So why not display the contents first and then load all the scripts at the bottom of the page.
This will not do any harm as there is no point in loading scripts even before your site contents are displayed. This is exactly what I did when I wrote the Twitter Facebook Social share plugin. It was intentional and not accidental.
Now we know that HTTP request are expensive then why waste one and display a 404 Page not found error?
So go through all the links on your site and make sure there are no 404 Not found links. You can use Google Webmaster to identify all the 404 links on your site. Get rid of them or fix them to show correct pages.
Try to Avoid Redirects
Redirecting a link to some other page is usually achieved using 301 and 302 status code. But this usually slows down the user experience.
Inserting a redirect between the user and the HTML document delays everything in the page since nothing in the page can be rendered and no components can start being downloaded until the HTML document has arrived.
Did you know that if a trailing slash (/) is missing in the URL then it also leads to a redirect? For example, clicking the following link http://www.searchtechword.com/category/seo would result in 301 redirect to link http://www.searchtechword.com/category/seo/ (trailing / added to the link).
So ensure that you have a trailing slash when you insert any link to your contents and avoid any redirects and thus improve your sites performance.
If you have reached so far then you really seemed to be pumped up to improve your sites performance. People have very less time these days, its a world of instant access and same applies to websites. No one will want to visit a site again and again that takes ages to load.
I am sure implementing even few of these techniques will bring in a drastic improvement to your sites performance.
Don’t forget to drop a line or two and share your experience. I would love to visit your site and see the difference.