IMPACT consistently tries to improve your online presence and overall website reputation. Within this blog, we have provided local SEO tips, niche marketing ideas and tools, and much more. However, one area that goes unnoticed by several local businesses is the load time of their website. Recently, we ran an article describing the importance of website load time, and we will expand on that topic today with 15 simple steps to improve your website’s load time.
- Limit DNS Searches — DNS look-ups and searches occur when a new domain (or subdomain) is needed to have the current page work efficiently. Typically, this will happen with images, and can easily be resolved by hosting the image on your website’s server. The same can be held true for documents and/or files. The easiest way to limit DNS searches is to host all information from your server.
- Utilize One URL — Be consistent with the URL you choose for your site. This will allow your site to be cached by visitors and significantly improve the website load time for return users.
- Limit Background Images — This step works with step 4 as well, but (if possible), combine all background images into one single image. Utilize CSS to position the image and display the image as desired. This is similar to creating ‘image maps’.
- Remove Unnecessary PHP — This is truly a simple step in helping your website load time. Within PHP coding, there are several “queries”, take the time to go through each and dispose of useless queries. This will help browsers distinguish true content from white noise and improve your load time.
- Style Sheets to the Top — This is similar to step 7; the idea is that you want the appearance of a faster loading site. You can accomplish this by having the browser call out the style sheets before anything else which will provide the user with an impression of a faster web experience.
- Java to the Footer — When browsers load, they will go from the top to the bottom. Java (typically) takes the longest amount of time for browsers to recognize and implement accurately. So, save the longest for last as this will have the appearance that your site is loading faster when (in actuality), it is loading in the same time period, but the actual content is loading prior to the java. This may be a little tougher for non-web designers, but that is what IMPACT is here for, right? So, if you need help with this please feel free to contact us.
- Content Delivery Network — Geographic locations have a part to play in website load time. In other words, the closer the server to the visitor’s browser, the faster the site will load. This is easily done by disbursing your static content through content delivery networks (CDN’s). They are a system of servers connected to enable a better delivery of static content (CSS, java, etc) which will improve load time.
- Gzip Components — This will get a little advanced if I were to go into detail so feel free to contact IMPACT if you’d like to hear about this. However, the general idea is to compress the website content. To give you an idea of how effective Gzip is, the typical reduction of response time is 70%.
- Avoid CSS Expressions – For those of you who aren’t familiar with CSS expressions, they are calls to action within the CSS that allow an alternate display or layout. The most common form of this is with background colors, and visitors can easily render over 10,000 evaluations of 1 CSS expression just by moving the mouse around the site. These evaluations harm website load time (and performance) so avoid these at all costs.
- Minimize CSS and Java — Throughout the coding of the CSS and java script, there are several areas of comments, white space, and basically unnecessary characters. Take the time to remove all of the excess and improve the load time through a few extra minutes of sifting through code.
- Avoid Redirects — This is an obvious step, and somewhat plays into the message with limiting browser requests. If you allow the user to find redirects, you are interrupting (and slowing down) the user’s overall website experience.
- Analyze and Remove Duplicate Scripts — According to Yahoo!, this is one of the more common aspects among top US ranked sites. One of the major factors when looking at scripts are the number of script files there are within the site. Reducing the number for script files (as mentioned in step 4) will allow you to recognize and react to duplicate script files.
- Flush the Buffer Early — Not very many people will understand this step as we venture into more coding related things, but within PHP coding, there is the function of flush(). The basic idea behind this technique is to place the flush function immediately after the HEAD portion of the coding. While the browser is requesting information (and waiting for that information to arrive), the flush function pulls partially ready HTML to the browser so that it can start retrieving other components.
- Reduce Cookie Size — Cookies are used for authentication and personalization. However, they also bog down response time (and therefore load time) of websites. Maintain a low size of your cookies, eliminate unnecessary cookies, and set expires date appropriately.
The above 15 steps to improving website load time are fairly simple, but keep in mind that website load time is exactly about that…keeping things simple. Along with those 15 steps, there are a plethora of other techniques that IMPACT utilizes to improve a website’s load time and overall performance. So, for more information on this please contact us today, and we can set you up with a website analysis and consultation today!