Not sure if this is just my network, but recently my Google+ feed has definitely improved. Over the weekend, a thread about improving website speed encouraged some really useful contributions. Scott True kicked things off with this question.
Andrew Shortland started off with some basic advice.
- Use caching. If you have a WordPress blog, I recommend WP Total Cache. It basically takes a snapshot of a page and keeps it ready to serve instead of hunting through the database to put the page together.
- Compress your image files. Big images are the most common problem I see in slowing down websites.
- Try not to use any 3rd party APIs. The minute a page needs to grab something from another service (e.g., AdSense, Twitter badges, Facebook Likes, etc.), it slows things down.
WP Total Cache is a must-have if you run a WordPress blog, Andrew is spot on. However one note, it was recently highlighted on the Seclists Full-disclosure mailing list — an essential email subscription for anyone who manages websites. The issue has been swiftly resolved, much to the authors credit but I’d recommend following his instructions if you are currently running this plugin.
Christopher Skyi then added some useful advice on content delivery networks (CDN).
If your site is a basic html, not image or media heavy, then it may already be as fast as it can be (assuming your host provider is good).
However, if a site is dynamic, like wordpress, or an e-comm site, anything where a database is used to create content, then what’s called a CDN may come in handy, e.g., http://www.maxcdn.com/, http://www.cloudflare.com.
If you’re not sure how fast your site is or how to measure it, try this resource: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/
All else being equal, Google will rank the faster site higher than the slower site — See: “It’s Official: Google Now Counts Site Speed As A Ranking Factor“
Again, great advice there. If you are lucky enough to be running WordPress then it is worth noting that the W3 Total Cache plugin will also help set up your CDN with a few options. Jon Henshaw (Co-Founder Raven) and Joanna Laznicka then stepped in to recommend the excellent gtmetrix.com tool.
I’ve always used Ping tools to track down individual files that were slowing down my websites, but gtmetrix is a great find. As Hyderali Shaikh points out in the thread, being able to compare 4 sites/pages is invaluable.
My team know I’m a big fan of CSS Sprites to speed up websites, and as Andrew suggests, hunting down legacy links or images from website rebuilds. Do you have any website speed tips you would like to add?