I recently launched BBC.com and it took more than 40 seconds for all the different scripts to complete loading. That’s an outrageously long time for a website to load.
But BBC is not alone. Almost all the popular news media portals are guilty of loading slowly, and it primarily boils down to them loading a lot of analytics and ad scripts. The fact that these websites enjoy a sort of immunity with respect to Google rankings does not help either (any regular website with such poor loading times could get nuked by Google and would not ever rank for anything).
The BBC has a lot of other issues that contribute to a slow-loading website. This includes:
- Uncompressed text files
- External scripts that block resources
Before I get into the details of these issues, a quick note about who we are, and what we do.
You are reading this article on CWVIQ.com. We are a free email alert service for slow-loading websites. Do you run a blog or website yourself? Then consider registering your site on our free tool. We monitor your website every day and will let you know anytime it is loading slowly. This way, you can take corrective action before it is too late.
In the case of BBC, all of their JS and CSS files are hosted in bbci.co.uk – while that may very well be in the same server, it is not the case in the eyes of the browser.
Now, connecting to this external server can take time. And that contributes to the initial loading time. A nice way to fix this issue is through the use of preconnects. Preconnects allow the browser to initiate a ‘handshake’ with the external server right off the bat so that the files can be executed quickly. You can read more about this in my article about rel=preconnect here.
You may combine preconnects with preloading so that those files that are pretty important for the initial loading may be executed first before the rest of the page loads.
Uncompressed Text Files
The BBC website has several text-based resources – including JS files from third-party networks that could be served as a compressed GZip file. This could bring down the size of these files dramatically, thereby speeding up the page loading.
For instance, a couple of JS files from an ad server that is around 70 KB in size could be compressed to under 10 KB through compression.
External scripts that block resources
The key word here is ‘critical’. If the resources tagged in the <head> tag are not critical, then there are several ways to let the browser know. Use of attributes like <defer>, <async>, and <disabled> in the <script> and <link> tags help with identifying non-critical resources, and thus prevent resource blocking.
Similarly, when you use the <media> attribute, it is expected that you specify the exact devices the document is optimized for. Using <media=”all”> may be a resource blocker.
BBC is among the most popular news portals in the world. The insane traffic that this website receives, along with the heavy use of media, is a natural contributor to page slowness. However, a big reason for BBC to load slowly is also due to poor scripts as outlined in this article. Fixing these will go a long way in saving precious seconds that are wasted while loading a webpage.
Anand Srinivasan is the founder of CWVIQ, and has been in the internet media space for over 15 years. He has previously served as the AVP of Products and Head of Business at popular media portals. He has worked with several SaaS and enterprise businesses as an external consultant for their SEO marketing campaigns.