Fast Pages: Does it Matter?

speedy web pagesYes. It matters.

It matters to Google, we know. Google has stated unequivocally that they won’t choose a fast loading page with less valuable content over a page with valuable content that loads more slowly. However, when there are pages with equal quality content, faster pages will be chosen first.

What’s more, a slow-loading page will lose you chances with human visitors, too. You have maybe 12 seconds for your visitors to decide whether or not to stay on your page. If half that time is taken up by the page loading, visitors may leave before they even see your page. People just expect the internet to be fast, and they may not be willing to wait around for you.

Fortunately, it’s not hard to keep your web page snappy.

First, check your current load time. Here’s a tool from iWebtool:

Your domain(s): Enter each address on a new line (Maximum 10)
(eg. iwebtool.com)

Powered by iWEBTOOL

My page loads in .02 seconds. If yours is fast, you merely need to keep it fast by making sure that all the content you add is optimized for speed.

That often means pictures. You can make the file size of your picture smaller by resizing the picture, or by running it through an optimizer. There’s no reason for your image size to be larger than the size that the picture will be on your website: if you’re going to add a picture to your blog and make it medium size (typically about 300 pixels wide), then you can make the picture 300 pixels wide before you upload it, and use “width” and “height” attributes to tell the browser how big the picture is. That means your program won’t have to adjust the size of the picture, and the browser doesn’t take any time to calculate picture size.

The image at the top of this post was originally 1.86MB, which works out to 1904.64KB. Now it’s 121.6KB. That helps keep the page loading quickly. You can use a graphics program to do this; the video below shows you how to resize with MSPaint and with Photoshop.

If you use Photoshop, you can also simply tell the program to optimize the picture.

 

This video isn’t hosted on our site; we uploaded it to YouTube, so it lives there. That’s another way to keep your page loading quickly.

Text doesn’t slow pages down the way pictures and multimedia can. You can cause your pages to slow down with your text, though, if you have problems with your code. If you copy from Word documents and past into your blog, for example, you end up with all kinds of mess in your html (sometimes on your page, too, but that’s another issue).  This can also happen if you copy from a web page and paste it into your blog, if the page is using tables or some other special code.

If you must copy and paste, paste it into Notepad first to clean it up, or go into the html view of your content management system and clean up the code before you publish.

Now, we’re talking about keeping your snappy pages snappy. What if your site is already slow?

Chances are, it’s not built in the most up to date way, and/or you have poor quality hosting. Talk with your web designer about optimizing your site for speed, or talk with us about it if your web designer is no longer in the picture.

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