SEO Tips for Developers : Page Speed

I have been paying a good amount of attention to Google search engines since I started at my current job almost 3 years ago. Working on a public web site has more of a need for creating a robot friendly, content rich web pages than an internal web application. I don’t like to keep things to myself (I find it rude) so I thought I’d share some quick tips. These are more aimed at developers, than designers or content writers, of web sites.

Speed, speedier and speediest!

The start of a new year is always a good time to begin something new. Google has decided hinted that they’re going to begin giving higher page rank to faster web sites. This makes sense, I don’t want to click on the first result if it is dog-slow, I’d rather click on something almost equally relevant that is faster. As a developer, think about how you serve the requests that are made. According to Google, a page loading in 1.4 seconds isn’t even in the top 20% of all measured web sites and 3.2 second page load is in the bottom half.

Enable compression of the files you send

How do you do this? I’m not going to explain it when there are so many others already have (much better than I could too!). A simple search will give you plenty of results describing how to enable this with your specific server set-up. Even fellow blogger Keith Dahlby describes how to enable this in IIS.

Send fewer bytes per file

This one is beneficial two-fold. The first gain is going to be quicker downloads to the client and the second is that the browser can “paint” the page faster; especially if you’re doing any kind of DOM manipulation when the document is ready. This is also relevant for your images, the smaller the file size, the faster the download.

Minify JS and CSS files

While similar to the previous tip. This is different in that you remove comments and whitespace where available. Depending on the size of your JavaScript and CSS files, you can save quite a lot by doing this. You obviously don’t want to keep them minified in source control, so do this as part of a build or deployment process.

I think it’s common for developers to look at server code when thinking about performance. Not only do you want your C#, Ruby or Java to run quickly, but also all the tiny pieces that tie things together. You’ll likely find bigger gains in some of these tips than in others, but even the little things can help you in the long run. Imagine increasing your traffic by twenty times? What about new features slowly adding more “bloat” to your pages? It’s the little things that can help combat those types of speed bumps.

That’s going to wrap it up for now, there will be more SEO tips for developers to come later. If you want to know more details of how I’ve accomplished these speed tips, hit me up on Twitter (@ChrisMissal) or leave a comment!

Also, here are some helpful links, use them, know them:

About Chris Missal

Oh hey, I'm a Senior Consultant for Headspring in Austin, TX. I've been working in software professionally since 2006 and I really, really love it. I'm mostly in the Microsoft world, but enjoy building computer things of all sorts (to be vague). When I'm not slinging code, I'm probably out and about slinging discs, bowling balls, or good beer with great friends.
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  • I think that combining js files should be more important than minifying javascipt. If you compress your combined javascript files using gzip/deflate it is almost as good as minifying, and it may help when debugging cause you can still read code 2cents…

    I found these videos a while back which are worth watching. The browser reflow stuff is interesting :)

  • These are useful tips regardless of SEO. I haven’t heard anything about this google hint but I wonder how they will know how fast the pages load. I mean, the time to retrieve the main HTML is one thing they can easily do because they are already indexing the HTML, but if they are going to start downloading all page resources (js, css, images, flash, other objects, etc) I can’t imagine how they will know how the time a browser will take to, say, execute the initialization code in inline JS and do all the other things to finish loading the page. I hope they do it right and not just another approximation that puts money in the pockets of self-appointed SEO-experts.

  • @Sergio

    If you start poking around the FAQs in the Site Performance area of Webmaster tools, it would seem to suggest that they’re looking for fast performance all over the place. They give you page suggestions such as: Enable gzip compression, Combine external JavaScript, Minimize DNS lookups, Serve resources from a consistent URL and Combine external CSS; all based on your pages.. just to name a few.

    Also, there’s articles and tips on how to improve almost all aspects of a page, down to even the browser’s rendering/painting of the page. I agree with you in that I hope they do it right, and it looks like they are.

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  • Some superb page speed tips here, well written!

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    I understand this all tips and want to use this tips on my asp website. Through this tips I make nice title and meta keyword for my website.