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How to Test and Improve Your Site Load Speed

How to Test and Improve Your Site Load Speed

When it comes to website loading times, faster is better. There are a number of reasons why it might be slow, and a slow load speed can lead to your site visitors clicking away because they get too impatient.

Fortunately, there are ways to test your site load speed in order to determine its performance level and then fix whatever might be slowing it down. Let’s look at tools that can help, and the typical items that can be tweaked to speed up your site.

Google Page Speed Insights

As always, Google has a free tool for this. Enter your URL and click the Analyze button. You will get a score out of 100. Then it will give you a list of what really needs to be fixed, and what you might like to fix, with helpful hints as to how you can make the suggested corrections.

Link – https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights

You will see two tabs, one for desktop and one for mobile. Do both sets of suggested edits and see what a difference it can make to your load speed.

The tool will assess things like:

* Images
* Videos
* Caching
* JavaScript
* CSS
* HTML and site navigation

Images

These can be compressed so they are not so large and won’t affect the load time of the page. Use http://jpeg-optimizer.com/ to compress your images and resize them. Or click the Google Fixes at the bottom of the page and it will give you a zip file of these and other errors it is correcting for you. If you use WordPress, download SmushIt plugin at https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-smushit/.

Videos

Videos are very large files, so trying to run them directly from your site will lead to a very slow loading page and a clunky viewing experience, rather than a smoothly streaming one. For optimal results, upload your video to a video sharing site such as YouTube or Dailymotion, and then embed the video into your web page or blog post.

If you want to keep the YouTube video private but let clients or customers view it, set the video to Unlisted and then give them the link to watch it. If you set it to Private, it will be for your eyes only unless you provide a specific invitation.

Caching

Caching saves certain parts of a page so that they don’t have to reload every time a person visits a new page. A good example of this might be the header and footer and any related artwork. There are a few WordPress caching plugins that work well – check out this comparison guide: https://www.designbombs.com/top-wordpress-caching-plugins-compared/

JavaScript

JavaScript is notoriously unreliable and often in need of repair. It also delays or blocks the page until it either uploads or sends an error message. Since every second counts online for your customers, try to keep Java to a minimum.

CSS

Cascading style sheets can be a shortcut for making all of your pages uniform and attractive, but if they are long and complicated, they can slow down the page load. Set the styles that are essential, such as type and size of font, and avoid complex CSS. Here’s everything you need to know about CSS: http://www.cssbasics.com/

HTML and Navigation Elements

Sometimes the site will load and then reload HTML elements on the page, basically loading it more than once as it tries to make sense of your page. A good example would be the navigation bar. The browser will load it, and then reload it again when the article appears on the page. Prioritize the content on the page by following these instructions: https://developers.google.com/speed/docs/insights/PrioritizeVisibleContent

Make these small changes and you should soon have a speedier site that the search engines and your visitors will love.

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