Compare the SEO of five leading SEO sites
This article will show you how to increase your site's performance by comparing the SEO of five other major SEO sites.
Taken from the Yahoo Developer Network:
Using YSlow can really help you understand your website's performance. Knowing where there are performance weaknesses means they can be rectified. This can improve performance.
Website performance is important to Google. Speed is an integral part of Google's algorithm for ranking pages. Speed is therefore an integral part of search optimization.
YSlow's analysis of SME Pals
If you look at the screenshot, you will notice that YSlow awarded a "Grade A" ranking almost across the board. In fact, the one visible criteria for which the site scored a B was "Add Expires headers". As you can see the culprit is actually the Google analytics urchin. Not much can be done about that - since analytics is more important than a YSlow score of 100.
The single remaining non A grade was awarded in the "Configure entity tags (ETags)" category. Fortunately, ETags are not really an issues for single server websites, so this can safely be ignored. I you do host a website across multiple servers then this category becomes more important.
Improving website speed and performance
There's quite a lot that goes into tuning a site's performance. I won't go into each and every detail here. What I will say is that you can find out much of what you need to know by installing YSlow, and researching the areas where your site does not perform well and fix those one at a time.
Here are the major things you need to look out for:
- Page caching
- Page compression
- Minify and duplicate JS & CSS
- JS & CSS Aggregation
- Aggregated file compression
- Image optimization
- CSS images
- JS at page bottom
- Reduce DOM element count
Adding plenty of social media buttons, third party scripts like Disqus, badges, and other sundries is absolutely diabolical for your site's speed. While these page elements may not be putting any load or drawing bandwidth from your site, they are adding huge amounts of size and download time to your pages.
When I first began tuning SME Pals for performance, third party widgets, ads, and badges accounted for over 90% of my page load time. Absolutely insane.
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I stripped everything but the bare minimum from my pages and the average page load time went from around 11 seconds to just under 2 seconds (on a modest speed connection).
From Google's point of view, SME Pals went from being a heavily laden cart horse, to a lean, mean speed machine. I'll be keeping tabs on the effects of these changes over the coming months, and will share them in a follow up post.
I still have a few third party widgets on my pages, like social sharing buttons and disqus comments. It's basically a trade-off and these features made the cut because social sharing and reader engagement are really important.
How do leading SEO sites perform?
The SEO industry is huge. A lot of entrepreneurs, bloggers and business fork out a lot of cash to learn how to improve their sites. SEO sites and search engine marketers can talk the talk, but it's time to see who walks the walk by comparing the YSlow grading for a bunch of leading sites:
- SEO Book: YSlow Grade C (75 score)
- seomoz: YSlow Grade C (77 score)
- Search Engine Land: YSlow Grade D (62 score)
- Search Engine Watch: YSlow Grade E (58 score)
- Search Engine Journal: YSlow Grade D (64 score)
- SME Pals: YSlow Grade A (96 score)
I should point out that the YSlow gradings and scores shown here are for the homepages only. These are a good indicator of how well each site is tuned for SEO performance, but is not necessarily indicative of the whole site.
However, for performance related SEO, the results speak for themselves.
How important is YSlow?
The first thing that might pop into your head when reading this, is how are the major SEO sites so popular despite having relatively awful search optimization (from a performance perspective). There are three main reasons:
- Social sharing and influence is already established for these large sites
- Speed and performance are not the only aspects of SEO
Speed and performance may no longer be that important to these large sites because there is much more to SEO than having a well tuned site. In fact, having trust, authority and reach (collectively, social influence) is becoming more and more important as time goes by.
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