12th October 2012

Improve page load time with mod_pagespeed

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For the last 2 years Google has had a module in Beta that, in essence, re-writes your webpages to speed up their load time. On Wednesday, Google took off the Beta label and released this module in version 1.0. Whether you know it or not, you are interested in the page load speed of your web pages. It affects both the users experience and the way in which Google indexes and ranks your pages; basically it is an important factor in SEO. Google have stated on numerous occasions that page load speed is a ranking factor, the main reason being is that it affects user experience. Creating this module is more evidence to back up how much they believe in page load speed. They claim that their overall aim from the mod_pagespeed module, and it’s future updates, is to speed up the entire web, making it a better place for users. Google states that their ranking algorithm is chasing after what users want. So if organic traffic is important to you, you need to apply this module. Keeping your page load speeds optimal does take a lot of time and effort, and many webmasters do not see page load speeds as an important issue to address. And with this module they don’t have to, installing this module takes all the hard work out of optimising page load speeds.

What does it do?

The mod_pagespeed module is an open-source Apache HTTP server module that automatically applies the best practices of web performance to your web pages. These include:

  • Optimising caching by keeping your applications’ data and logic off the network.
  • Reducing the number of serial request-response cycles.
  • Reducing upload size by minimising request overhead.
  • Minimising payload size by reducing the size of responses, downloads and cached pages.
  • Optimising browser rendering by improving the layout of a page within the browser.
  • Tuning your website for characteristics of mobile networks and devices.

Installing mod_pagespeed

Firstly it’s key to note that the supported platforms for this module are CentOS/Fedora (32-bit and 64bit) and Debian/Ubuntu (32-bit and 64-bit). For the official guidelines and documentation you can visit https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/mod. The installation process is fairly quick and easy if you know what you are doing. You simply need to download the appropriate package and install it on your Apache server. You can do this by running (as root) a specified command. All details can be found on the link above. Once you have installed the mod_pagespeed module, you will have added the Google repository to you system, this will keep the mod_pagespeed up to date.

Finally

I highly recommend adding this module as soon as you can. From a user experience point of view, page load speed has been known to increase conversation rates and user engagement, and also from a ranking point of view, it may help you jump up in the search engines, and thus overtake a few of your competitors, which will increase your traffic.