Faster Website results with Google PageSpeed Insights

google-pagespeedThe internet has grown exponentially from just a highly competitive sphere for promotion and commerce to an overcrowded marketplace where visibility is essential to success. Most competent web developers are already aware of the more traditional tools of higher internet visibility: keyword saturation, social networking promotion, and search engine optimization. But with more and more competitors targeting your own audience, even optimizing your website for search engines is no longer enough. Surprisingly, a new factor has slowly emerged as a growing influence in site rankings-website speed. Google PageSpeed Insights

In 2010, Google came out publicly saying that no longer were keyword optimization, content and authenticity the only means of ranking a website. Website speed was now becoming a relevant factor in search engine rankings. This meant that if your website loaded into someone’s browser too slowly, the amount of traffic you could attract would significantly decrease. Many studies were conducted based upon this latest revelation about Google’s newest methodology for ranking, and the findings were not good for slower sites. In calculating the time-to-first-byte (the speed at which a browser received the first byte of data from any requested URL), there was a clear and causal relationship between the increasing TTFB and search engine rankings. This indicated that websites with better optimized back-end infrastructure (the background programs that help a website react faster in its interactions with users and thus load faster) are the sites that tend to rank higher in search engine results. So if you want to compete with sites that rank higher than you, posting to Facebook and using Twitter may not be enough.

However, just knowing why website loading speeds are important doesn’t help in speeding those loading times up. For this, you need to learn how to boost load times. This is why Google PageSpeed Insights can be extremely useful in this situation. This is Google’s online app that allows you to enter a website URL and analyze its load time performance as well as offer optimization suggestions. It mainly looks at the front-end infrastructure (the different ways users can and possibly could interact with your site) rather than how your site is best optimized to support these interactions (back-end infrastructure). This entails examining aspects that are independent of your network’s capability, such as images, JavaScript and CSS. When used in conjunction with other analytical applications such as GTmetrix, a developer could assess their front end performance and the back-end, further finding ways to optimize the overall performance of their website.

With this is mind, any developer should utilize PageSpeed Insights and GTmetrix to gauge their site’s loading speed performance. After this, developers should implement these easy fixes below to help them get moving in the right direction.

Leverage Browser Caching

Leverage browser caching refers adding expire or cache control headers to your site. When you do this, you are reducing the number of http requests a server needs to process, which reduces load times. You can add these by modifying your .htaccess file. In WordPress, this is actually easier to do than one might think. All you need to do is access your .htaccess file by going to cPanel and clicking on the File Manager. A pop-up box will appear and you will need to click on the Web Root option, all while ensuring the “Show Hidden File” option is ticked off. Once your .htaccess file is opened, all you need to do is cut and paste these directives at the top of the file:

## EXPIRES CACHING ##
<IfModule mod_expires.c>
ExpiresActive On
ExpiresByType image/jpg “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/jpeg “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/gif “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/png “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType text/css “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType text/html “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType application/pdf “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType text/x-javascript “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType image/x-icon “access 1 year”
ExpiresDefault “access 1 month”
</IfModule>
## EXPIRES CACHING ##

After this is done, save your .htaccess file and watch your site’s loading time speed up dramatically.

Plug-Ins

If you are using WordPress, you will also want to install the plug-in W3 Total Cache as an additional way to speed up load times by improving conversion rates and helping pages render (or download) quicker. The plug-in. while speeding up some instances will also slow down others, but you do end up ahead of the game with a better score after installing it. The setup of WordPress is part of the issue and hard to get around.

Minifying CSS

You can minify, or compress your cascading style sheets (the programming language used to change the style of webpages) by going to the website cssminifier.com and following the instructions on how to input the language so you can in return receive the compression language . http://cssminifier.com/

Minifying JavaScript

Javascript is another programming language that allows users to interact with website. To compress the Javascript on your website, you can go to this site-javascript-minifier.com-which operates in pretty much the same way as the CSS minifier site. http://javascript-minifier.com/

Eliminating render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content

Some Javascript and CSS script in above-the-fold-content (content on a website that is visible without scrolling down) can block rendering of your site and slow load speeds. To remove these scripts, put your Javascript files in the website footer. Also, it is additionally beneficial to try and combine any CSS scripts into others whenever possible. (The W3 Total Cache plug-in can cause an error here)

Once your site developer has fine tuned your website with these easy, basic adjustments, you can look into further ways to speed up your site’s loading time. Some other places for assistance include Pingdom and Google’s own Webmaster Tools¬† to help optimize any deeper levels of back-end infrastructure to reduce load lagging. Once you have speed up and refined your website as much as possible, you can now focus your attention on what really matters – your content.