Practically everyone has had the experience of waiting patiently for a page to load until the frustration becomes too much and you just leave. The slow-loading web page is the bane of every website owner and webmasters go to great lengths to ensure that this doesnít happen to them. It can result in a loss of potential customers, a negation of promotion efforts and even the break down of high traffic sites since it increases the load on web servers. The sad thing is that itís so easy to produce a fast-loading page that complies with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) guidelines by just tweaking the HTML a little.
Keep The Size Down:
Anyone who has even the slightest bit of knowledge about SEO principles will tell you that one of the worst things you can do is have messy HTML coding on your pages. Even if youíre not too familiar with HTML, a good rule to go by is that clean code looks neat while untidy code looks like a wall of jumbled characters.
You run a greater risk of this if you are using some WYSIWYG editors such as Microsoft Frontpage, which tends to add a lot of unnecessary coding. This not only makes it difficult for search engines to locate your keywords, it also adds extra weight to the pages making them bigger than they need to be and therefore slower to load. There are tools such as HTML tidy which can get rid of extraneous code. Another trick is to use external CSS files so the amount of HTML on one page is cut down.
Try Using Text:
Graphics take up space. There is no getting away from this. What you might be able to get away from is using them. Sometimes headlines and navigation menus can be just as easily expressed using text as opposed to a .gif or .png image. The wide range of TrueType fonts and fill colours makes it possible to have an almost endless supply of options. Still, not all font types are covered using HTML and some may turn to rendering text as graphics to get the look theyíre going for.
There will always be instances where you simply must use graphics. For example, the template for the design of individual pages calls for the use of photos. Or the website must use a logo so that brand identity can be maintained. All isnít lost and you can still have a fast-loading HTML page that falls within SEO guidelines. There are two things that you need to do.
The first is the resizing of all images. While you may have dragged the edges of an image so that it can appear to be a certain size on the page, this ultimately doesnít affect the total size of the graphic. Instead of resizing by this method, actually specify the <height> and <width> tags. The second involves the use of the <alt> tag. This tells the browser what text to display if the image is unable to be shown, either because of browser incompatibilities or other reasons. Try naming your <alt> tags according to your keywords. Not only does this result in a lack of white space on your pages, itís also a good way to increase your keyword density.
Specify Table Sizes:
The key to having a fast-loading page is ensuring that the browser doesnít have any extra work to do. Few sites today operate without the use of at least one table. A novice mistake is just adding one of these elements without specifying the height and width. When this happens not only does it increase the time taken for the page to load but the browser has to try to understand the formatting of the page and this can result in irritating layout changes when the page finally loads. Specifying the sizes can be done in the body of the pageís HTML or in the CSS sheet using the Ďtable-layout:í selector.
It is important to remember that browsers typically load the layout of the table before loading the content. If you have a large table, or a complex one which uses nesting, your viewers are going to be treated to a block of white space before anything appears. If this takes too long they may just decide that the wait isnít worth it. Breaking up the content into a few tables can cut down on the loading time since smaller tables will be seen while the larger ones are loading.
Go Easy On The Special Effects:
It would appear that many web developers out there seem to want to showcase their skills by creating ever more fanciful pages. While it is true that flash plug-ins and Java applets can enhance the overall look of a site, they do nothing for those who canít load them in the first place. Cutting edge technology is often available only to those who are on the cutting edge themselves. Sadly, this is not the majority. Certain technology, such as DHTML, may require a specific browser, or even a computer with very precise specifications. Itís better to stick to basic HTML and ensure that everyone can see your pages, rather than go high tech and be accessible to a favoured few.