10 December 2009

Dont be in the slow lane on page load speed

The one sure way to find yourself left behind in the constant race for visibility on the Internet is to fail to react to the signals that Google gives out about the weight it gives to different factors when returning search results. One of the factors that looks likely to be added into Googles weighting on search results in 2010 seems likely to be page load speed.

You may perhaps find it surprising but page load speed is not yet among the many factors that Google reportedly takes into account when determining where a website comes in the search results. I say this is surprising because any webmaster worth their salt thinks about how users behave on websites - and it doesn't take a genius to work out that users will click away from a page that takes too long to load.

If most Websmasters try to make sure that their pages load quickly anyway then what's the big deal?

Although most webmasters do attend to page load time they often then forget all about this as they add more and more widgets and images and javascript and counters to their pages. Before you know it that lovely fresh site that you designed becomes bogged down with bloated code, poorly structured HTML, code that could and should be minified and adverts that load slowly.

Although the increased page load times may seem minor to you, and perhaps at first even to your users, these increased times might make the difference between appearing on the first page of the search results or the second page once Google factors page load speed in. So this is serious because on the Internet your search results position is your one guaranteed free way of getting visitors to your site.

So, given that Google are talking about including page load speed in their search results weightings, probably in 2010, what can you do?

The first thing is to head over to Google and do a search for page speed. Ok - you are all lazy so here is the link to Google Page Speed.

There you can download and install an addon to Google that works with Firebug ( you'll need to have that addon with Firefox as well)

Once you have it installed you just load up the site and page that you want to test , run Firebug and then run PageSpeed. It will analyse the page and tell you specifically where there are things that can be done to improve your page load time.

There are a long list of things that you may have to do and I can't deal with them all in this post. I will make further posts in the coming weeks and cover some of the strategies you can use to improve the loading time of your website pages.

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