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November 2010 Posts

11/5/2010 11:17:08 AM

Tuning your site's speed

In the last year there has been an increasing focus on how fast a web page displays to visitors.

Speed is now one of the many ranking factors Google uses. It's not the primary factor, but it is in the mix. Speed isn’t just important for Google ranking, it has also been shown that for ecommerce sites like Amazon, a faster website turns more visits into sales. Faster websites offer an excellent experience for visitors who are able to get information faster and navigate through your website more easily. Speed is something visitors judge a site on. Optimising for speed may also reduce bandwidth requirements and that can reduce hosting costs.

So how do we see how fast our site is?

One easy way if you have Google Webmaster Tools (opens new window) is to see how fast Google thinks it is. You can do this by going to Labs and then Site performance. This is based on the speed data fed to Google by real visitors to your site who have the Google Toolbar installed. This compares the performance of your site against other websites. It is also thought that Google measure your site performance when the Googlebot visits your site to index your web pages.

The Webmaster Tools Labs site performance feature gives you a broad view of your speed but it doesn’t really help you improve your site. There are several free tools that can help; two of the most popular are Page Speed and Yslow.

Page Speed (opens new window) is a free, open-source add-on for Mozilla’s Firefox web browser. It looks at the way a page is put together, evaluates the speed and makes suggestions about how to improve the page’s speed.

Yslow (opens new window) from Yahoo! is another free Firefox add-on. Its shows statistics, an evaluation report and makes suggestions on how to make your website faster.

Page Speed or Yslow should be able to make suggestions on how to improve your pages. With them you can make a change and see what impact it has.