Why Improve a Website's Page Speed?
Google and other search engines are beginning to focus more on usability. Recently, they have announced that page speed is becoming more of a factor in their rankings because users want faster pages to find what they are searching for faster. Consequently, even if you have a ton of backlinks and have optimized everything else on your website, your website might not rank high in the search engine results because it doesn't load fast enough. It also means that if you don't have thousands of backlinks but your web page loads quickly, you stand a better chance of ranking higher. Ultimately, improving the page speed of your website will most likely lead to ranking higher in the search engine results.
Components of Page Speed
Most people understand how a web page request works. The client sends a request to the server, the server processes it and returns a result, and the result is loaded by the client into the browser. Since you cannot alter how a client sends the request to your website's server, you can only modify how quickly a server processes the request, returns the request, and part of how quickly the client can load the page.
Improving the Server's Page Speed
As soon as the server receives a request, it must do some processing before it can ship a result back to the user. Several improvements can be made in this area.
Compress the Response
Get a Faster Server
The easiest way to improve the processing speed is to get a server that can execute the code faster. If you do not receive a lot of traffic and your code is written well, it is unlikely to help improve the page speed of your website.
Redirects are great because they allow you to handle changes in URLs over time as a result of architectural restructuring, creating clean URLs, etc. If you have one redirection for clean URLs or to handle a change in the URL after moving some pages around, that is completely fine. However, if a URL has to redirect several times, the redirects could probably be reduced. For instance, www.example.com/example.php existed a long time ago. A few years later, it was given a clean URL to become www.example.com/example/, and a few more years later it was later moved to www.example.com/articles/example/. You want the first two URLs to redirect only to www.example.com/articles/example/. You don't want the first URL to redirect to the second URL and then have the second redirect to the third URL.
There are several different ways to cache a web page. If your web page is fairly static with only a few updates, consider creating some type of caching system that allows you bypass executing code and instead show a cache of that page. For example, if your website shows some content based on a complicated query selecting a record from the database, consider creating a cache to skip this complicated database call. Additionally, you need to make sure that your caching system can update periodically to show any new changes.
Write Better Code
A thorough review of the code might increase the server speed. Try to implement speed tests to determine what sections of the code take the longest to execute. Additionally, use this time to reformat and restructure your code to be more efficient. For example, if you are executing the same query multiple times in the page, you might want to consider saving that query object into a variable and using the variable instead of recalling the query.
Improving the Client-side Page Speed
Many different ways to improve the page speed on the client-side exist. You can optimize images, rely more on browser caching, reduce other http requests, etc. However, using a tool that diagnoses your web page's page speed is much more effective at determining what to improve. It is very likely that you have already solved at least some of these issues, so we won't waste your time by creating a list of what to fix. Instead, here are two of the best tools to improve the client-side page speed.
Google's PageSpeed provides an overall score of your page speed optimizations. After PageSpeed analyzes a web page, it breaks the results down into recommendations that you can fix to increase your page speed.
Yahoo's YSlow essentially does the same thing as PageSpeed. However, they both check slightly different elements and can find different problems with your website's page speed. Using both of them on your website is an excellent idea.