Optimising Page Load Times

Updated: Nov 20, 2015

Recently Google has made it very clear that web page load time is an increasingly important metric that they are measuring to determine quality websites and quality AdWords accounts. The goal is of course to improve the internet user experience by making web browsing as fast as possible. If your site has slow load times, clearly this will effect the position of your site in Google search results, and it will decrease the performance of your AdWords accounts with increased cost-per-click (CPC) and decreased click-through-rate (CTR).

Given this insight, its imperative that page load times be optimised as a part of your SEO work, and as a part of improving the overall Quality Score of your AdWords campaigns.

The first place to start is Google's Webmaster Tools (http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/). To set this up, you or your developer will need to add a meta tag to the home page of your site which, when verified, will allow you to view a number of excellent reports which give insight into how Google sees your site. One of these is Site Performance in the Labs section. Here you will see a summary of the speed of your site, and suggestions on how to begin improving it.

The next step is to get more detailed information about page load times. Google has come to the rescue with another tool called Page Speed, an open-source Firefox/Firebug Add-on (http://code.google.com/speed/page-speed/). You might also like to look at YSlow, a similar page load tool with slightly more detailed statistics that Google Page Speed. And finally there's AOL Page Test Tool which provide a more visual representation of page loads with details on DNS lookup time, connection time, time to first byte and the actual content download time which can let you know if you have issues with specific page elements like a Javascript file.

With site speed and page load times, its good to use multiple optimisation tools that will help you develop an actionable list of performance enhancements that need to be made.

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