Optimizing Your Website For Performance

Website Speed Optimization

Website Check Up List - Re-Design, Clean, Repair and Compress

This came around faster than ever. It feels like I have finished my taxes finally and BAM it hits me again. It seems that with all the survival squabbling most website administrators don’t have time to fine tune their websites.
 
SLERPS are continuing to get pickier and pickier. I suggest that you run your site though some standard quality testing. Take an afternoon to tweak your on page-design and content to show visitors you are ready for the New Year. There are many things you can do to keep your sites engine purring for competition. I thought I would put together this checklist of things you or your webmaster can do to fine tune your site. This way you know your website is close to optimum performance. If a web designer did all this for every client it would cost a fortune. As a website owner you need to be able to fine tune the hidden things that get overlooked.

Tweak Your Websites Loading Time for Best Performance

My next suggestion is  something I have gotten a little obsessed with. But hey, a little obsession won’t hurt anyone. My website has many images (png) (jpg) formats. Even though it is image intensive I like what I did with the website design. I tried to find a way to optimize the images as much as possible. The first thing I discovered  was a little web tool called (TinyPNG.com). It’s a free tool that can compress some of your images down as much as %80. (TinyPng.com) will compress a (png) or (jpg) and save you kilobytes and even megabytes.  In the past I did not think you could optimize a 24bit (png) file down further than the default export settings. I pulled down all my images and ran them though TinyPng and it  saved a total of 14+ megabytes when all was said and done. The tool does not appear to harm the quality of the image past it’s 72 dpi resolution so we found it was very much worth it. It took 20 minutes to complete the entire process.

TinyPNG Image Compression

I have been designing websites for more than 20 years and didn’t pay much attention to caching. It was not until load speed became a big ranking factor 12 years ago. I knew about it and used it but I quite understand all the ins and outs. Our agency, Blue Light Labs setup an in-house demo server so we could test different caching methods. This way we could come up with a good solution for our clients. There are 4 different types of web page caching that we use. Most of these come standard or have plugins for most content management systems.

  • Browser Caching – Tells the visitors browser to store pages that don’t need to be rendered again
  • Server Side Caching – The Apache Server stores the page rendering to serve up faster if there are no changes to the content
  • CSS – / JavaScript Caching and Compression – Compresses all CSS and load time scripts into one easy to access file for the server to load
  • Module Widget Caching – Allows you to control how often a website section or module needs to refresh itself.
There are other types of compression and loading tricks you can perform. Using a CDN network to serve up your images, files and videos can help with page speed as well. A CDN can detect where your visitor is located on the planet and then use the closest server to serve up the files. Lazy Loading and script priority loading are other techniques that you can tweak. Lazy Image Loading for example will load media that is closest to the header of the site first. This way as the visitor moves down the page images are loaded in priority while content in view loads in order.

Website Speed Testing Tools

It took a little trial and error to find the right caching recipe. Different types of sites that we build have different requirements. I suggest spending a little time trying different cache settings. Run your website though the Google page speed insights. This tool will rate your site based on how well it’s optimized for speed as well as give you helpful suggestions. Another is GT-Metrix It gives your website a speed grade and is also helpful in figuring out what else you can optimize.

GT Metrix Page Speedd

Integrate social networking

If your website caters to a niche audience. They should be able to follow updates, or recommend your content. Integrating, social networking might be a good idea. SLERPS are paying more attention to social networking environments. From what I have read so far it has become a factor in how Google rates your web pages. There are hundreds of social networking modules available for you to add to your content. Shop around until you find one that works best for you. There are 2 different ways to attract social network activity:

  • Allow a specific page or article to get referenced and added to a visitor’s network stream using social Like/ Add buttons to broadcast it. 
  • Create links that directly go to your company’s Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn page. Visitors can then follow your company’s activity and updates. This requires creating a Fan Page on Facebook, LinkedIn Company Page, and Twitter account.

Check all your internal links and old content for broken links and missing tags

Sounds a little overkill but we like to add ALT tags to all the images of a website but make sure they make some sense. ALT tags implemented with the purpose of giving visually impaired visitors an idea of what the image is about.
 
You would be surprised at how many links can break over time. They can cause your site to suffer in search if they lead to 404 pages. I found a great tool for checking site wide links that’s called Screaming Frog. The lite version is free for download. This tool even checks for broken image links in your CSS.
Screaming Frog SEO Spider

Happy Optimizing!

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