Words and Action: Ramping up Performance for SEO
When most people think of Search Engine Optimization, they think of keywords and content, but for dynamic sites in particular, site performance is equally potent for improving SEO rankings.
It’s obvious as a retailer or other dynamic site owner that the speed of your page loading is important for user experience, and Google cares about that. Google wants to provide search results that people love, and if consumers find your site slow, it won’t make the grade as a top site in the rankings.
Fortunately, Google deploys tools for developers to identify where websites are loading slowly, giving programmers the information they need to shorten loading times and improve SEO.
The following screenshot shows the performance of a site Clevertech recently inherited from another website development house. With a 48% performance rate, you can be sure that the SEO is going to be negatively impacted - and this site already has a mediocre SEO ranking.
Reducing fetching amount
Digging deeper, the performance metrics give the developers a handle on where the problems are coming from. Most developers are aware of the basic tricks such as pre-caching large files and using CDN infrastructure for faster response times.
The metrics shown provide more specific information on how quickly the images load, the speed of the page, and other types of performance indicators. Each of the indicators points to different areas of the code which can be improved to boost the SEO of the site.
Reducing fetching amount
Dynamic websites interact with databases, and, as we described in our blog about build times, reducing the number and frequency of those database calls can speed up your site. Clevertech utilizes a number of different methodologies both for consolidating and reducing database calls as well as for pre-loading certain types of content.
Many of these optimization processes are built into the software when we go through the reduction in build times and testing times. Others are specifically addressed when we check the code using the Google Lighthouse tooling. Simply going through the checklist provided by Google is a great place to start upgrading the code for SEO.
When looking at legacy code or code that we have inherited from other developers, it’s important to take on small chunks when upgrading for speed. Typically, we find code using outdated libraries or rendering web pages using methodologies that were once cutting edge but no longer give an adequate performance.
It can be tempting to refactor large parts of the code, but generally, this slows down the development time and creates as many new problems as it solves. Choosing the right chunks of code for refactoring is one of the important decisions to make when it comes to speeding up website rendering times.
For programmers who want to choose which bits of code to prioritize for web optimization, Google Lighthouse doesn’t provide enough precision in pinpointing the issues. Clevertech uses a variety of other tools for deeper analysis inside the code itself.
Experienced coders can look more deeply into each section of the code and start by decoupling certain parts of the code from one another so that refactoring can be performed in a more gradual way. The bad news is that this can take time. The good news is that the continual improvement of site performance sends a positive signal to the Google algorithms, improving the site ranking over time.
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