Keeping Up With Google: Speed a Factor in Page Rank

googleI was reading my morning news website yesterday when I ran across a link to an article entitled "It’s Official: Google Now Counts Site Speed As A Ranking Factor" posted at SearchEngineland.com .

It seems that Google has responded to results of numerous studies over the years that concluded that even a half second delay in delivering content will result in shorter. For instance, as part of their own internal experiment, Google slowed down their own search results by 100 to 400 MILLISECONDS, resulting in a drop of follow-up searches. The number of searches per user of the slow search dropped by 0.2% - 0.6%

Doesn't sound like much, right? In spite of my instant and visceral anti-big brother reflex, i have to acknowledge that all websites depend on google. 57% of our traffic comes from search engines and a whopping 73% of all search engine traffic comes from Google.

YSLow

Firefox has an extension called YSLow

As described on that add-onpage:

"YSlow analyzes web pages and suggests ways to improve their performance based on a set of rules for high performance web pages. YSlow is a Firefox add-on integrated with the Firebug web development tool. YSlow grades web page based on one of three predefined ruleset or a user-defined ruleset. It offers suggestions for improving the page's performance, summarizes the page's components, displays statistics about the page, and provides tools for performance analysis, including Smush.it™ and JSLint"

Download: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/5369

I have always had this installed but it has been a while since I checked out own site. The last time I checked, I had a Studiopress-based theme installed. We passed with flying colors. This time, we failed. Miserably.

After analysing the webpage, the Yslow plugin offers specific suggestions for increasing performance.

Yslow addon screen- Make fewer HTTP Requests

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Yslow Add-on screen- Reduce DNS Lookups

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Server-side Compression

One of the suggestions Yslow will make is to compress all the files before they leave your server. There are a variety of ways to accomplish this: this:

Through your cpanel. Go to cPanel > Advanced Tools > Optimize Website

Cpanel - Optimize Website

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cPanel - Optimize Website

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For a better understanding what exactly gZip is and what it does to wordpress, read this great article (and read the comments that folow) GZip Compression and WordPress by Raju of Techpp.com

How GZIP encoding saves bandwidth and improves performance?
The idea behind gzip encoding is to reduce the amount of data being transferred over the network. In the example above, the size of the data was reduced by over half. Not only does the data transmit more quickly, bandwidth consumed will be less as well.  - quote from GZip Compression and WordPress by Raju

WordPress plugins:

For a good overview of wordpress performance and caching plugin, read Codefusion's 20 Essential WordPress Caching And Performance Plugins. The post is well-illustrated with screenshots of each plugins admin and a fbrief but informative description of its function.

After reading the CodeFusion article, I have decided to take Hot Linked Image Cacher for a spin. This plugin can be found here.

Even though WP Super Cache has been my plugin steroid of choiceAfter some more research, I decided I would also investigate:

Scripts Gzip: WordPress plugin that merges and compresses the CSS and JS links on the page. Fewer taps on the server, less data to transfer. That should make Google happy.
Plugin Homepage: http://mindreantre.se/program/scripts_gzip/
Download: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/scripts-gzip/

W3 Total Cache Plugin: This plugin  seems to accomplish all of the above. I will have to try this as well.
Plugin Homepage: http://dougal.gunters.org/blog/2009/08/26/w3-total-cache-plugin
Download: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/w3-total-cache/

I have no concrete "go to" answer to offer; every website will probably require a performance enhancing scheme tailored to its individual set-up, theme, plugin, server specs, etc.

In our case, we have 39 separate javascripts loading. Hmmm... A lot of them are associated with wordpress plugins and as such easy to pare down, but the Arthemia Premium theme itself has many scripts associated with it. SO that is something to consider..

I had been using WP Super Cache with no problems on a variety of wordpress sites.In this new set-up, with the Arthemia Premium Theme it just isn't enough. I might start this time with the W3 Total Cache Plugin first and go from there...

The first thing to be deleted will be the Wybiya Plugin. Gawd, that plugin is slow...

Comments

  1. Nice article. I got great information about GZip Compression, specially in link you provided. I didn’t know that GZip Compression is integrated into WP. THX for great valuable info :)
    .-= MobileDummy´s last blog ..5 Advanced Steps To Plan Successful Email Marketing =-.

  2. The irony with Yslow is that Firefox itself is very slow. I’ve been using Chrome for half a year and there is a very big difference.

    I watch my blog load every day. If anything looks like it is slowing up the process I look into it. I have removed several sidebar things to pages or just deleted them all together. I doubt I am lightening speed to load but I know I am much easier on time than a lot of the blogs I read.

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