53 Actionable Checks

Scan Sitewide for Opportunities

Unearth Geographic and Device Issues

Bonus Custom Reports for Google Analytics

Consider Code, Server, Media, and Platform

Improve Rankings & Conversions



Checklist

Saved Audits

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CMS & Direct Checks

Determine the content management system in use (if there is one) and enter the administration panel. ex. WordPress, Magento, Squarespace, etc.

If there isn't one, obtain FTP access.

If that's not possible, identify some of the most noteworthy pages and View Source on them.

IF THERE'S A CMS: Is The CMS Updated?

Find the 'updating' section in the administration panel. Is their site software running the latest version? If not, it's likely that the site is missing out on performance enhancements, in addition to being at major risk for security exploits.

IF THERE'S A CMS: Are The Plugins Updated?

Find the 'plugins' section in the administration panel. Are plugins being updated and maintained? Just like the software itself falling out of date, this leads to problems with performance, functionality, and security.

IF THERE'S A CMS: Are All Plugins Necessary?

If using a content management system (such as WordPress or Magento), are there unnecessary plugins? Thumb through each plugin in the administration panel of the site.

Identify any that aren't both in use and 100% necessary. Also, don't use a plugin where one or two lines of code could get the job done, without requiring WordPress or whatever system to inject a totally separate set of JavaScript/CSS/etc. as each plugin tends to do.

IF THERE'S A CMS: Are Plugins Selective?

If using a content management system, a plugin that may be of definite use is one that selectively renders plugins.

For example, don't load a full contact form plugin on pages without contact forms.

If using WordPress, we recommend installing and configuring Plugin Organizer for this task.

Are Scripts Selective?

If any JavaScripts are not called by a content management system and there are many, consider making them appear only on the pages that they are needed.

This can be coded into your site's headers and footers with simple IF statements. Alternatively, it can be done with Google Tag Manager, which has the added bonus of disguising your scripts from snooping competitors.

Are Stylesheets Selective?

Check your site code to see if it requests more than one stylesheet. If so, check to verify that all css files are necessary for the pages they are listed on. If not, consider using PHP IF statements so that a stylesheet is only requested if it is needed.

Are Scripts Up To Date?

Use BuiltWith to see what tools are currently active on your site. Identify any that you are no longer using and remove them.

 

Are Image Sizes Optimized?

Scan your site using Screaming Frog, select "Images" from the filter in the "Internal" tab, and sort by "Size." Images over 500 kilobytes can likely be resized without any visual loss in quality. If they aren't already, try saving them as jpegs. Use Photoshop or Gimp to reexport the images with a reduced file size. If you have WordPress, use the EWWW Image Optimizer plugin to reduce image sizes.

Are Images Using The Right File Type?

Check your main pages, and elements that are reused across the site, to verify that images are using the correct file type. Specifically:

  • JPG: large photographs
  • GIF: icons or illustrations with low # of colors, or where transparency is needed
  • PNG: smaller, full color images, or where transparency is needed

Tinkering with Photoshop's export features and comparing the three will serve as an objective voice on what's best in terms of appearance vs. file size.

Are Colors And Gradients Used In Place Of Unnecessary Background Images?

Consider removing background images and replacing them with solid colors or gradients using CSS. See Colorzilla's CSS gradient generator.

If you are torn on this, we will run a Web Page Test scan later in the audit, allowing us to determine if background images are a significant barrier to page load speed.

Are Image Icons Replaced With Glyphs?

Consider using glyphs over image icons, which are styled using HTML5 instead of old, heavy image formats. This is most commonly done using a library called Font Awesome or the Bootstrap Glyphicon library.

If you're unsure if one of these libraries is used, you can check the site using this site.

They look like this:

Font Awesome
Bootstrap Glyphicons

PageSpeed Insights

Google PageSpeed Insights is currently the most popular site performance auditor, although it's one tool of many and far from comprehensive. Despite that, it gives some great information, so let's weigh in on each of these factors.

Begin by visiting this site, entering the site's address, and selecting the Desktop tab.

Run this on a few key page types as their results may vary.

"Enable Compression" Passed?

If you failed this test, it means that certain files could be compressed using Gzip compression. This must be done by a system administrator:

This check is tough to get perfect, because it will look at third party scripts that you've included. Ironically, using Google Analytics is the most common problem in this test. Depending on how much you care about getting this perfect, there is a solution to those third party scripts, whereby you grab them regular using a CRON and host them locally instead. This does seem to work consistently, even with Google Analytics (if re-downloaded daily), but may be a little extreme.

"Leverage Browser Caching" Passed?

Browser caching will speed up every rendering of your site after the first pageview. Note, this is the same as the ySlow test (in the next phase) labeled "Add Expires Headers". How to leverage browser caching.

"Minify JavaScript" Passed?

Use a free JavaScript compression tool if you are running a static site. Use W3 Total Cache if you are running on WordPress. Any time you compress Javascript, check for JavaScript errors in Chrome by going to View > Developer > JavaScript Console. Google recommends UglifyJS and Closure Compiler for compressing JavaScript. A System Administrator can also install the PageSpeed Module on your Apache or Nginx server.

"Minify CSS" Passed?

Use W3 Total Cache or Autoptimize if you are running WordPress.

Google recommends using CSSNano or csso. CSSminifier is another option.

A System Administrator can also add the PageSpeed Module as with Javascript.

"Minify HTML" Passed?

As above, use Autoptimize or W3 Total Cache if you are running WordPress.

Google recommends HTMLMinifier.

And a System Administrator can still install the PageSpeed Module.

"Optimize Images" Passed?

Use EWWW Image Optimizer if you are running WordPress.

You can compress images here.

Note: removing image headers is required to achieve a perfect score on PageSpeed Insights. Weigh this against the fact that Matt Cutts (Google) has stated that image headers could feasibly be involved in image search rankings.

"Optimize CSS Delivery" Passed?

Here Google suggests to include critical styles in your html, instead of in the CSS file. This is for styles that appear above the fold.

This is unnecessary if a System Administrator installs the PageSpeed Module.

This guide explains how to implement this.



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