After the announcement of Google’s newest ranking factor, web page load time, webmasters are looking for ways to speed up their site. While developers and web designers usually know where to look to improve their page speed, this can be a daunting task for SEOs with a minimal technical background. Below is a list of factors that can affect your web page load time, what they mean, and how to fix them. See them below the fold.
Web Page Load Time Factors
Factor #1: Large HTML Files
Description: The average size of raw HTML code is around 20KB. HTML files larger than this can increase load times.
Possible Way to Fix: Remove any unneccessary code. Move inline coding to an external file when possible. Compress HTML pages to reduce their size.
Factor #3: In HTML styling tags
Description: Before CSS was created, formatting tags like <font> and parameters like align=”center” were used to change the appearance of a website. These methods are less efficient than using a CSS, and can slow down load times.
Possible Way to Fix: Remove such formatting tags and create the same formatting in the CSS file.
Factor #4: Too many DNS requests
Description: Every time a different domain needs to be accessed to load something, a DNS request is necessary. DNS requests allow a web page to connect to an external domain, but that initial request takes extra time to process. Once the connection has been made, loading additional items from that domain do not require additional DNS requests.
Possible Way to Fix: Host as much content as possible on as few domains as possible. The fewer domains that have to be connected to, the faster the page will load.
Factor #5: Too many external files
Description: To avoid inline coding, external files are used. These files must be “included” through code in the raw HTML file. Having too many of these files included can increase load times.
Possible Way to Fix: Combine external files to reduce the total number of external files to be included.
Factor #6: Oversized external files
Description: To avoid inline coding, external files are used. If these files exceed 50KB or so, they can slow down the loading speeds.
Possible Way to Fix: Remove any unneccessary code. Compress the raw code to reduce file size. If necessary, split the files into multiple files, but only if absolutely necessary.
Factor #7: Oversized images
Description: Images over 50KB are so are generally slow to load.
Possible Way to Fix: Use smaller images or compress the images.
Factor #9: Overloaded server
Description: If the server is receiving more requests than it can handle, it will slow down significantly, and sometimes even deny requests.
Possible Way to Fix: Remove any unneccessary code. Use server-side caching. Server-side caching will respond to requests with temporary static HTML pages so that the pages themselves have to make extra requests less often. Enable browser-side caching. Browser-side caching through “expires” tags will tell browsers to store a copy of the page locally until the provided expiration date, reducing requests from those who frequently visit the site. The last option is to increase the number of requests a server can handle by upgrading the server hardware with faster hardware.
Factor #10: Slow server connection
Description: If the server’s connection to the internet is slow, then it will receive all requests slower and send all pages slower.
Possible Way to Fix: Increase the server’s internet connection bandwidth.
Hopefully this list of factors that influence the load speed of web pages will make it easier for those SEOs with a less technical background to make an impact on their load times. While sites will only get penalized for being slow, there is no telling whether or not fast sites will be rewarded in the future. My gut tells me they will be.