Improve your SEO and make customers happier in 2016 - Website and Page Speed
Jan 2016 01

Improve your SEO and make customers happier in 2016 - Website and Page Speed

Authored by: Dayle Traynor

We all hate waiting and when it comes to the web, you have a limited window of opportunity to impress. If much of that window is spent waiting for a web page to load than navigating a site you’ve already blown it.

Page load, page speed, download times – there are many names associated to this but it layman terms it means “how long does it take my website to load”. Page speed has become an important ranking factor and we’ve many reasons why you should care. Customer satisfaction and search engine optimisation.

We’ve always been keen on website optimisation, which is why we try and save every kb we can. Earlier this year our youngest member of the team (software engineer Matt) started to develop our in-house framework and CMS RedPrism. The main reason for this was speed and security.

Templates Vs Bespoke

Yes, Themeforest templates and WordPress are perfect for businesses on a budget but they do have a downside, bloat. Similar to when you buy a new PC from a major retailer they come jam packed with software and features that aren’t needed.  Sadly some templates are coded well and others are coded using substandard techniques using deprecated code which will only cause heartache for you and your developer. Not only that but you’ll find 1000’s of lines of CSS that aren’t used and javascript files that aren’t needed.

For people wanting something a little more bespoke and unique in 2016 we developed RedPrism. For a premium, you can have a fully responsive website, built on our much bespoke CMS Framework running the latest version of PHP7. The result is an ultra-secure platform that is lightening fast! Matt is ultra keen on security and speed and spent a long time developing this framework. We did some initial security testing on some local competitors offering “bespoke design” and some of the results we found were pretty scary. These tests showed a lot more positivity when running against our framework RedPrism.

Why is page speed a benefit to your customers?

We’ve all been there, long load times leave us and our clients frustrated but a happy customer is more likely follow through with a conversion, resulting in better sales and better word of mouth. Start by keeping your customers and clients happy by making your pages and website quick to load whether they view on desktop or mobile/tablet device.

Are search engines bothered?

They certainly are, many years ago Matt Cutts announced that Google was to start site speed as one of its search engine ranking factors. Google is all about user experience and they understand that what is good for humans is good for them. Please remember that by increasing your page speed you are doing something to get you ahead of your competitors rather than something Google will punish you for if you don’t meet certain criteria.

What to look for?

The biggest load on a website is images, and we’ve seen many sites upload full res, 300 DPI images as their logo and scale them to 200x50px a total file size of 3.5mb being loaded on every page! The correct file size that had been optimised and saved at the right dimensions resulted in only a 20kb size. If your site has a hero slider, make sure those images are optimised or reduce the number of slides. For other images, there are some image optimisation tools to help you with this, Compressor and TinyPNG.

External scripts

Next on our list is any external script and embedded media like Social Share buttons and Youtube videos. These can call lots of external calls resulting in a heavy weight to your page so it’s important to make sure these are correctly optimised and things like web fonts are embedded on the site if possible. You’ll find that pre-made templates and have an incredible amount of external code calls. We recently worked on a customer’s site that was built by another design agency and the site called 53 Javascript files and 23 CSS files, it’s fair to say it wasn’t a pleasure to work on that project.

Minified code

The code is the final area where we can help shave a few of those final kb’s or again lots if you’re using templates. We’ll look at minifying CSS and Javascript and combine them into a single file when and where possible to reduce the number of server calls.

How can you check your site speed?

Google Page Speed Insights, GT Metrix & Pingdom tools are a great starting block in helping you highlight areas you could improve but similarly to most validators’ they aren’t fool-proof and it’s always advised to have a web developer check over any problem areas.

Can we help speed up your site?

We can certainly help; some results can only be as good as the code of the site, though, so results can vary depending on how well your initial site was coded. If you’ve got a site that loads slowly or if page speed is crucial in your next website build, then please feel free to contact us.