During the SEJ Summit, we heard a lot about the importance of page speed, especially from the SEO Director of Tronc, Caroline Shelby. Her insights were so valuable, we decided to share them with you, too.

It’s indisputable that if your page speed is slow, you’re going to lose page views, conversions, and even search rankings! So, what are the things that are weighing down your website and causing the page speed to decrease? The main culprits are too many plugins (especially unused and broken ones), uncommon fonts, and tracking pixels. There comes a time when it’s okay to tell your team “no” when they want to add a new plugin or pixel… it’s okay to put your foot down!

Just because something is available doesn’t mean that you need it. Consider its function and exactly what it’s going to do for you that your other plugins can’t. If you decide you simply can’t live without it… okay, go ahead and implement it. At the same time, it may be a great time to look through your existing plugins and sort through the ones you aren’t using. Consider your pixels and plugins like clothing when you clean out your closet. If you haven’t used it in 6 months or more, you should pitch it. It’s as simple as that.

How Much is Too Much?

When trying to decide how much is too much, ask yourself the following:

  1. How many audiences are you trying to serve?
  2. How many tasks?
  3. How much reporting?
  4. What are you tracking?
  5. How many images, especially large ones?
  6. How many social icons do you have on your website?
  7. How many ads to serve? From where?

If your website is trying to serve multiple audiences, are you really mastering any of them? It’s more productive to pick one thing your website is great at and be a master of that. It’s the only way to get the job done, and get it done right.

SEO Improvements Through Simplifying

  1. Get rid of excess code that no longer serves a useful purpose.
  2. Reduce the number of 3rd party sources (calls), yes, this includes tracking pixels.
  3. Reduce the bloat in your code, in your CSS, and in your scripts.
  4. Do not call or load things that aren’t needed.
  5. It’s okay to say no to your team when they ask to include something else on a website.

Don’t be afraid to KEEP THINGS CLEAN. Part of SEO is making sure you’re doing this! Otherwise, your rankings are going to fall. If you have a plugin that doesn’t work, uninstall it. Complexity has costs; more data to push and more time to retrieve that data. How many different tracking pixels do you really need? How many customer analytics or behavior monitoring tools are you actually going to use? Efficiency is effectiveness.

Fonts are another factor attributing to slow page speed. Choosing fonts based on ease and speed of load versus what your designer used in a photoshopped mock up can have a massive effect. I’m sure the font is beautiful, but if nobody else has it and is required to download it, your page speed is going to plummet. Be smart and keep things clean.

Consider this: Jockey’s are little tiny men. That’s because the smaller they are, the faster their horses run. It’s the same for your website! Make your code as lean and mean, tiny and light as you possibly can.

Speed Through Efficient Delivery

  • Minimize latency
  • Minimize file sizes
  • Only deliver those things necessary for the UX (user experience)
  • Prioritize above-the-fold content

Speed Traps

  • DNS response time
  • Latency between a website’s database and the file server
  • Failure of lag in loading a tracking pixel or a third party service
  • Not optimizing your image file sizes
  • Not optimizing your CSS delivery
  • Too many plugins
  • Too many HTTP redirects
  • DNS on one machineEveryone seems to put their DNS all on one machine, which is a mistake. Remember when GoDaddy’s DNS went down? Everyone else’s did too!

Two Tools for Page Speed & Load Times

Plus, any SEO tools pull in PageSpeed and Yslow into their auditing tools! Just remember to simplify, keep it simple, and really be honest with yourself when it comes to the plugins, fonts, and pixels you actually need.


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