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Whiteboard Friday - 7 Ways to Take Advantage of Google's Site Speed Algorithm (Pop-Up Video Style)
Posted by Danny Dover
Want happier website visitors and higher rankings? This week's Whiteboard Friday is about how and why to speed up your website. It is more technical than previous videos so I tried to spice it up with an ode to one of my favorite canceled TV Shows, Pop-up Video. Can't stand the content? At least the added commentary is entertaining. (It is the perfect plan ;-p)
7 Ways to Take Advantage of Google's Site Speed Algorithm
The following are seven proven techniques well known websites use to boost their site speed.
1. Enable Gzip
Gzip is a open source compression algorithm that can used to compress your website's content before your server sends the data to a visitor's browser. This makes your servers job easier and makes pages load faster for your users. You can learn how to enable Gzip here.
Minify is the process (and software) for removing unnecessary formatting characters from code. This makes your files smaller and your visitors happier. You can learn all about this process here.
3. Use a CDN (Content Distribution Network)
CDNs are systems of interconnected server resources that spread content and assets around the globe to shorten the distance between server and prospective user. They are commonly used by the Web's most popular websites. You can find a list of free CDNs here. Note: This is not a tip for beginners. Working with CDNs gets complicated very quickly.
4. Optimize Images
You can take advantage of the countless man hours that have been devoted to image compression and make your users happier by simply saving your images as the appropriate type. As a very general rule of thumb, I recommend saving photos as JPEGs and graphics as PNGs.
When a browser requests a website from a server it can only download a set number of files of the same type at any given point. While this isn't true of all file types, it is a good enough reason to host applicable files on alternative subdomains. This is only recommended for sites where the pros of speed will outweigh the SEO cons of creating a new subdomain.
6. Avoid Using Excess Redirects
While redirects can be extremely useful, it is important to know that implementing them does force your servers to do slightly more work per applicable request. Always avoid redirect strings (301 -> 301 -> 200 or even worse 301 -> 302 -> 200) and use these tools sparingly.
7. Use Fewer Files
The most straightforward way to speed up your website is to simply use fewer files. Less files means less data. My favorite method of doing this is utilizing CSS sprites. You can read how popular websites are using this trick here.
Google's Mission to Speed Up the Web
Fueled by the massive potential of the Internet, Googlers are working on many projects in their attempt to speed up the Web:
- Rewriting Internet Protocols - Starting at the foundation, teams at Google are rewriting the protocols that run the Internet in order to get faster performance.
- Creating a Public DNS - Google recently released a public DNS resource to help speed up DNS calls.
- Providing Fiber-optics for the Public - For a select few cities in the United States, Google will soon be offering ultra high-speed broadband networks for consumers.
- Encouraging Webmasters/SEOs to Speed Up Their Sites with a New Algorithm Update - Google spilled the beans about their one new aspect of their ranking algorithms by saying that site speed is now a ranking factor. This post explains how to take advantage of that.
If you have any other advice that you think is worth sharing, feel free to post it in the comments. This post is very much a work in progress. As always, feel free to e-mail me if you have any suggestions on how I can make my posts more useful. All of my contact information is available on my SEOmoz profile under Danny. Thanks!