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Optimizing For Site Speed: Page Load To SEO Cloud Server Infrastructure

Visit Optimizing For Site Speed: Page Load To SEO Cloud Server Infrastructure for the whole story

TrueInfluence.com has been an Ultimate SEO client for several months now. During that time a central project has been to deliver the companies web pages in three seconds or less.

TrueInfluence is a data intelligence marketing organization. IntentBase is a product of theirs and they are focused heavily in lead generation and demand generation. 

The TrueInfluence site scored the expected failing grade with Think Google, Pingdom and GTMetrix.com. It also failed GTMetrix in site optimization. In the end it took up to twelve seconds to load their homepage of multiple layers of graphics and animations.

Predicting a company’s next clients is a data driven science. They consume 60 million pieces of data a day to fuel that intent data. As a B2B lead generation provider they are in a highly competitive world but their site speed wasn’t doing them any favors.

It is typical though where a technology focused organization becomes hyper focused on client initiatives that they forget to their own foot print online.  Its hard to strike the balance between delivering for your clients or delivering results for yourself.

Predicting a company’s next clients is a data driven science. They consume 60 million pieces of data a day to fuel that intent data. As a B2B lead generation provider they are in a highly competitive world and their site speed wasn’t doing them any favors.

Keep in mind any Ultimate SEO article or site is a non-revenue generating long term investment and that investment requires resources that could have been devoted to revenue generation in the short and long term.  So as a B2B business ourselves we get it.

The TrueInfluence site scored the expected failing grade with Think Google, Pingdom and GTMetrix.com. It also failed GTMetrix in site optimization. In the end it took up to twelve seconds to load their homepage of multiple layers of graphics and animations.

Speed is important to SEO ranking. It’s incredibly important with mobile users which now out number desktop users on Google’s search engine. Google has an initiative called Mobile First and its title makes it obvious what they want to see from sites.

In previous tests we’ve seen a visible bump caused by a site’s speed performance. This was observed with at least 3 sites that were first on shared hosting, then given a dedicated VPS server and then moved to a shared VPS server.

The site’s keywords performed best under the dedicated VPS server using a CDN. The keyword improvement was generally noticed in a few days of the site’s migration.

SEO WordPress Optimization

Initial success was quick to be realized in optimization of the sites images, the addition of a CDN network, html compression and image compression. After this first phase the site was loading at about 5 seconds on average.

This meant the site was loading in less than half as long as before but still almost twice as long as our three second goal. In reviewing what we had to do we identified three areas that we felt encompases a site’s speed.

I. Content – animations, js, css, images, video files

These are the basics that every site should have in place by default. Rarely does a new client have all of these in place.

II. Site Optimization – compression, software versions, CDN 

Adding Content Delivery Network or CDN as an optimization.  While a CDN is infrastructure its not required for a site to function but servers to improve the delivery of content, so for our purposes it is an optimization.

III. Server and Networking Infrastructure – host hardware, 

 

Content For SEO Speed

Speed is important to SEO ranking. It’s incredibly important with mobile users which now out number desktop users on Google’s search engine. Google has an initiative called Mobile First and its title makes it obvious what they want to see from sites.

In previous tests we’ve seen a visible bump caused by a site’s speed performance. This was observed with at least 3 sites that were first on shared hosting, then given a dedicated VPS server.

Leaving behind the animations and scrollers is an easy thing for an SEO to advocate but it’s sometimes those elements that drive the site’s conversion rates. Content that’s rich in only text may be great for Google but it isn’t the best way to present yourself to future clients. Our goal was to minimize animation but leave content largely intact.

We also worked to resolve site errors and broken links within the content.

The Technical SEO Side

In the image above we have content and two other sections equally important.  Site Optimization and Server / Networking Infrastructure.  These second two can collectively be called Off Page SEO or Technical SEO.  It’s the side of SEO that Ultimate SEO excels within, and most SEOs just  don’t know it

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Reviewing the site we noted that the use of PHP 5.6 could be improved with PHP 7.3.  Some studies indicated a 200% improvement in site speed with this update.  PHP 7.3 has actually given way now to 7.4, but we’re still learning the specifics of 7.4 and felt 7.3 was the best accepted solution.

As noted previously the use of a CDN was chosen with Cloudflare. This brought an immediate savings of about 3 seconds in tests

But with all these efforts in the 5 second mark fell short. We were receiving an optimization rating of 94% from GTMetrix which suggested the site couldn’t really be speed up through optimization any more.

That left us with Content or Infrastructure as the last means. Again Content was to be the last resort which drove us to test out the site running on a dedicated Digital Ocean VPS server. You can read more about the performance testing we did while comparing Digital Ocean vs AWS.

Long story short Digital Ocean performed by far the best in every test we did and we were coming in at 2.7 seconds. This meant we left GoDaddy’s shared hosting and took up a VPS cloud server and we offloaded the MYSQL database to its own VPS server.

What Are Requests?

I’d suggest you think of requests as if they are shots from a gun at your head.  You need to avoid them!  Less shots is a lot better.

Requests are literally requests of the server before the page can load.  If I make a page with one image on it that is one request. 

Let’s say I decide to replace that image with a slider with 5 slides, now I have 5 requests, the same page area but that cool feature increases the trips required of a computer to quadruple! 

Let’s say now I add social media icons to the page, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and an email icon. small and just up in the right corner. 

That social media addition just added 5 more requests.  Think about all the things on your page, they don’t all come together in one big Amazon package with a smile.

They are shipped to the computer individually.  Now I have one page with 1 request and another with 10 and the initial difference isn’t much, that slider only displays one image at a time.

 

Page Requests though are directly correlate with a slower performing site. 

Requests making the site slow also makes sense. If it takes the server 10 milliseconds to respond to a request then 200 requests become 2000 milliseconds. This server latency was going to exist at some level and the number of requests simply amplified it.

Latency And Requests

Servers don’t respond instantly‚ they take a little while to think and retrieve the requested resource and then it has to travel the distance from the server to your computer‚ may be at the speed of light, but light still takes time.  This time is called latency.  50 milliseconds is a good latency.

The use of GZip Compression, image compression and minification was a no brainer for speeding up the site. Page Requests though seem to directly correlate with a slower performing site. Our site had over 200 requests for each page. We worked to merge js and css files and brought that request number to around 70.

Ways To Decrease Requests

Do you need separate images?  On ultimateseo.org I wanted to show my COMPTia certifications.  I have 4 icons ‚ I combined them to make one image.   

Thats 1/4 the requests but no change in user experience other than a quicker site.

The image above was once depicted on our site as 4 side by side images.  

This shows that while its complicated and often highly customized even a 12 second loading site can reach the 3 second goal and maintain its user experience with rich content.

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