Today, Google announced a new service to help speed up the delivery speed of web pages, which as we know is one of the criteria applied in the SEO algorithm for SERPs. The Page Speed Service works by “applying web best practices” to your pages. Other services such as CloudFlare also offer similar solutions to speed up page downloads.

In order to use the Google Page Speed Service, you are required to point your DNS to Google so that they can grab your content, apply the best practice formula to your site, and serve it up more quickly.

This raises an issue, or three, about security, privacy and Google’s access to your company’s data, and that of users who visit your site. The previous mod_pagespeed which was an Apache module which could be applied to your site by you and helped to optimise code for faster speeds. It did not, however, hold on to your data or serve it from a Google server. Whilst Google servers very rarely fall over and are unlikely to, just the issue of having your data under Google’s data centre roof must be a cause for concern for businesses.

Optimising pages so that they load more quickly is important not just for search engine results, but also to avoid upsetting your site visitors whose time is precious. You have at most 7 seconds to capture their attention and if even 50% of that is wasted on page load, you are unnecessarily losing potential customers.

One simple action that can be taken with static sites (i.e. those not dynamically created from databases etc) is to strip out all of the spaces in the code before uploading the page to the server. Many years ago we created a tool to do just this and could make savings in download speed anywhere from 15-80% by doing so. Another method for optimising your pages for download is to limit javascripts, and simplify the CSS so that the code is sleek rather than bloated.

Pictures should be rendered for the web not for print, and third party scripts can slow things down if their server is slow to respond, so use these judiciously. The Google +1 button has just been speeded up for precisely this reason, because Google was having to advise putting it at the bottom of pages rather than the top to speed up page load times.

You should also check that your hosting company has the optimal set-up as far as connectivity to the internet so that their servers can respond as quickly as possible to requests for your content.

So, there are simple ways to optimise your pages for download time. Handing the keys to your website to Google? Hmmm….

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About the author:

A practising internet marketing consultant since 1996, Lindsey Annison helps companies improve their website marketing, online PR and information architecture. Lindsey is also a qualified adult education lecturer and author. As co-founder of the Access to Broadband Campaign, she has been instrumental in the provision of high-speed internet access to rural areas in the UK. Lindsey is also a past winner of Silicon.com's Outstanding Contribution to UK Technology