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Race to the Top: Quick Tips for a Faster Page

Solodev's Wes Marsh landed a feature in PAGES SEO Magazine -- an in-print resource for the best online marketing tips around.

By Solodev

“Slow and steady” always wins the proverbial race, but Aesop might rewrite his fable if he saw how fast internet speeds are shaping online success.

For the fourth consecutive year, mobile devices remain the go-to platform for users to visit their websites of choice. The average loading time for mobile websites to fully load are 22 seconds, according to Hubspot data. However, most web visitors will start to leave after 3 seconds.

Find a way to slim down everything on your website. Why?

Because Google’s Speed Update is coming. Google announced in January that page speed would weigh more heavily into mobile search ranking.

As the Google webmaster blog points out, the updates always start by affecting the slowest websites first, but don’t get comfortable. Just because it affects a small percentage of queries right now doesn’t give you an excuse to wait. Google has already offered six months of a heads up to prepare for this update. One can assume that the Speed Update will continue to be a transformative part of the core algorithm.

Here are 5 tips to staying one step ahead of the Speed Update, even if your website feels more like the tortoise than the hare:

Use a CDN

Content Delivery Networks often improve performance by reducing latency while also offering scalability for peak traffic times. In short, they’ll speed up your site. CDNs work by distributing your website files across a network of servers around the world. Just like with online shipping, closer proximity to your desired product means it shows up on your doorstep faster.

Reduce as much as you can

Image size, Javascript, CSS, plugins, animations and anything else that can be culled out of the page and while still delivering a quality UX should be made as small as necessary. Speed is the goal, but don’t over optimize for speed and leave your users with a poor experience.

Lazy Load Your Pages

Page speed is all about the time to first render. We’re already seeing many websites load the first 100-150 words of content and the header, but including a button click to “Read More” or load more. This helps improve speeds by not having to complete the entire rendering of the site at once. However, make sure you put links into your content so that search engine crawlers continue on to index the lazy loaded content.

Tag Management is crucial

In one script, you can hold all of your tags — from Universal Analytics, AdWords, Facebook Pixel and other tags for remarketing, call tracking, A/B testing, and events. More importantly, by selecting the specific triggers required to fire those tags, you improve the speed of your site by not having individual scripts load on each page.

Use the Lighthouse Chrome extension

In a matter of seconds, you can get a snapshot report of your site performance, accessibility, SEO checks and adherence to best practices. This should be a staple in your toolbox along with GTMetrix, PageSpeed Insights, and your other favorite speed tools.

** You can learn more about PAGES SEO Magazine by checking out their website and subscribing to their print editions.

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