Posted by FelixProOptimization
This post was originally in YouMoz, and was promoted to the main blog because it provides great value and interest to our community. The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of Moz, Inc.
[Estimated read time: 7 minutes]
Website loading speed is a priority for the overall user experience, and it’s also one of the hundreds of SEO ranking factors. Truth is, nowadays people don’t have the patience to wait more than five seconds for a page to load. If your website isn't loading fast enough, you'll lose potential customers.
With more than 50% of online traffic coming from mobile devices, everyone expects a site to load almost instantaneously. With that in mind, in this article, I will show you how we managed to score 100/100 with Google PageSpeed Insights Tool for Monitor Backlinks for both desktop and mobile.
Our site was loading quite fast already, but we knew there’s always a way to make it even better.
One day, while playing with the PageSpeed Tool, I noticed Google’s website had a terrible score for mobile devices, 59/100. The desktop version was doing better at 95/100.
Maybe they should use their tool to improve their website, right?
That’s what pushed us to make our site load faster and prove you can get 100/100. It’s not an obsession; it’s aiming to be perfect.
We started at 87/100.
Here’s the result we got after implementing some of the techniques I’m about to share with you.
How to make pages load faster
Before I start showing the exact steps we followed, let me tell you that the PageSpeed tool is only a guideline for best web performances practices. It provides recommendations for optimizing your website for page load speed, and achieving favorable results depends on how your server environment is set up.
While some of these steps require technical expertise, others do not. Note that they can be followed using almost any content management system (CMS).
Step #1: Optimize images
The PageSpeed Insights Tool suggested that we optimize our images to load faster by reducing their file size. To solve this problem, we did two significant things:
- Compressed all images using tools like Compressor.io and TinyPNG. These tools are free and can reduce image file size by more than 80% in some cases, without decreasing the quality of the image.
- Reduced the size of the images to minimal dimensions without decreasing image quality. For example, if we wanted to have a picture at 150x150px on our website, that’s exactly the size the picture should have been on our server. You should never have larger images than what you want them to render at, nor reduce their size using CSS or HTML tags.
We downloaded each of our images, then manually compressed and resized them. After optimizing these images, it’s best to make a habit of optimizing all the new images you upload to your server. Each new image should be compressed and resized.
To fix this problem, we installed Gulpjs on our server. The tool automatically creates a new CSS file and removes all spaces. It also creates a new CSS file automatically for all the new changes you are making. In our case, it helped us decrease the size of our main CSS file from approximately 300kb to 150kb. The difference was all in unnecessary characters. For more instructions on how to remove white spaces, check Google’s guide.
If you are using Wordpress, I recommend you to install the plugin Autoptimize.
You can also download the optimized files from the PageSpeed Tool. Here’s an example:
Step #3: Leverage browser caching
For many website operators leveraging browser caching is the most challenging part.
To fix this problem, we moved every statical file from our website to a CDN (content delivery network).
For example, if your website’s main server is from Texas, without a CDN, a visitor from Amsterdam would have to wait for the server to load the site all the way from the U.S.A. With a CDN, your site is loaded from a location that’s closer to the user. In this case, this is a place closer to Amsterdam. Therefore, the website will load faster.
Here’s a visual representation from GTmetrix of how a CDN works.
After we did this, the PageSpeed tool still annoyingly suggested that we leverage our browser caching for some third-party resources. Here’s a screenshot:
We fixed the social media scripts problem by replacing the counters provided by them with some static images hosted on the CDN. Instead of having third-party scripts that were trying to access data from Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus to get the followers count, we hosted these ourselves and fixed the problem.
Even more frustrating than the social media scripts problem was that the Google’s Analytics code was slowing our website.
To solve the Google Analytics script problem, we did something rather difficult. As we didn’t want to remove Analytics from our website, we had to find a different solution.
If no changes have occurred, then the Analytics code will load from the cached version on our CDN.
Here’s a screenshot from Pingdom Tools showing how everything loads from the CDN, including the Analytics code. The only file loading from our server is the homepage file, which is only 15.5 KB. Eliminating all third-party scripts hugely improved the overall loading speed.
Step #4: Eliminate render-blocking resources above the fold
Step #5: Enable compression
Implementing the enable compression suggestion can be done simply in your server's settings. If you are not very technical, you can ask your technical support team to enable GZIP compression for your server.
Step #6: Optimize the mobile experience
The mobile experience is all about showing a responsive mobile version for all different types of resolutions, using correct fonts, and having a good navigation system.
You can test how your website looks in different mobile versions using Google Chrome. Click on the hamburger menu on the top right side, and then on “More Tools - Developer Tools.” On the left side, you can select to see what your website looks like in different mobile resolutions.
In our case, there weren’t many changes to be made.
These are the most important steps we’ve followed to make Monitor Backlinks score 100/100 with Google’s Speed Tool. We didn’t optimize only the homepage. We also optimized an internal page, the free backlinks checker.
The three most important actions you can take to improve your website are:
- Use a CDN (content delivery network).
- Optimize the size of images and compress them.
Has your team undertaken such a project for your website? If so, what were your results?
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