Author: Rob Toledo posted in Blogging on 2013-05-27 12:57:00
Site speed is important. It’s one of the first things visitors will notice when they arrive at your blog, so to make a good first impression your content should load quickly. Researchshows that site speed contributes to bounce rates, conversions, search rankings and site trust, all which have a considerable impact on the success of your blog.
To improve your blog’s speed and ability to deliver content quickly and efficiently, we’ve outlined a few technical improvements you can make to ensure your visitors’ user experience is the best it can be.
Before you get started making improvements, you need to know how your blog is currently performing. Using a speed test will allow you to test your blog against competitors and give you a clear metric to improve on.
A web browser’s cache (or temporary internet files) can store content (such as images and media files) for reuse, improving how fast it is delivered when browsing the same site in future.
Browser caching can be explained in terms of clicking your browser’s back button: instead of sending a new request for information to the server of the site you’ve just looked at, the local (or cached) version of the page can be displayed. Your blog can take advantage of this by enabling your content to be cached by web browsers.
Configure your web server to explicitly set caching headers (either the Expires header or Cache-Control: max-age header) and apply them to all cacheable resources. For more detailed information see here. This will specify how long the local (or cached) resource is valid, and tells the browser when the resource (your content) last changed. Set your cache heading for a minimum of one month in the future and preferably a year.
Not only does this improve page load time for your users, it can reduce bandwidth and hosting costs for your site.
Content delivery network (CDN) services use a number of web servers spread out over multiple locations in order to deliver content more efficiently to users. They select the most appropriate server to deliver your content by using factors like proximity. Sending data 1,000 miles will always take longer than sending it 10 miles, so by using a large network of servers all over the world to host your content, it can be delivered quickly no matter where it’s being accessed from.
If you use WordPress, integrated WordPress CDN Services are available to ‘drop-in’ to your blog. So it’s just as easy as adding a plug in.
Optimizing your images for speed will have a dramatic effect on your page’s load time, as images usually make up a significant proportion of any webpage.
To ensure your blog loads quickly without compromising on quality, there are some quick fixes you can make to your images using basic image manipulation software, such as cropping out unnecessary white space around images and using CSS to make sure they don’t touch surrounding elements.
Also, make sure your images are saved in an appropriate format, which will depend on their color and detail. For flat illustrations or artwork use 8-bit PNG or GIF formats, as they reduce the number of colors in the image, which in turn reduces the size of the file.
For detailed, colorful artwork and photographs, JPG and 24-bit PNG are more appropriate. Wherever possible, choosing JPG allows for a smaller file size, but this is dependent on your image quality requirements. Also, images should be scaled appropriately for your site; avoiding the time it takes for a server to resize images.
There are lots more technical changes you can make to your site if you’re ready to delve further into what is going on behind it.