We Blogger users are lucky because we don't have to worry about our hosting or our bandwidth. When was the last time your blog went down because you got too many visits at once? Never, right?
But, in my years working with Blogger users, I've seen that the bandwidth liberty can lead to carelessness when it comes to page weight. Since we don't have to concern ourselves with hosting limits like our fellow bloggers on other platforms, we often forget that we still need to keep our pages "light" so they load quickly. Overstuffed pages can lead to seriously sloooow load times.
In this post I'm going to cover the two most common reasons why Blogger blogs slow down, break them down finely, and help you figure out solutions.
It's Your Images
Images that aren't properly optimized for the web make your blog sluggish. One image with a large file size is rarely a problem, but there is a cumulative effect as you add more images.
Let's optimize all those images, starting from the top!
A heavy header can slow your page load time at the worst point — the very beginning. If your page isn't loading well right at the start, your readers are much more likely to bounce. Keep your header light!
The dimensions of the header aren't as important as the actual file size. Keep in mind, an image that looks small isn't necessarily small in file size. For example, check out these two images:
Though the logo image is wider and taller, the rose image's file size is almost 2x as large.
Try to keep your header's file size under 50kb. If the header you love needs to lose a little weight, check out the links to image optimization tutorials coming up later in the post.
Ask yourself: do you even need a background image? Solid colors make beautiful backgrounds — in fact, solid colors are in right now as part of the flat design movement.
If a solid color doesn't do it for you, it's fine to use a background image with a small file size. I know that Blogger will let you upload a background image of up to 300kb, but realistically your background image size should be nowhere near that — try staying under 20kb to really make the browser happy!
Choose seamless repeatable background patterns over big images. For some examples (and free-to-use files) check out Subtlepatterns.com. Most of the images on Subtle Patterns are just a few kb in size. Some are so tiny they're measured in bytes!
And please, whatever you do, do not use one of those gigantic, full-page background images designed to create a "column" effect on your blog. The file sizes on those mega-backgrounds are huge — we're talking half-a-megabyte huge! That's way too much for the background.
Heavy Post Images
The photos in your post are awesome, no doubt. But, if they're not optimized for the web, they can have a negative impact on your page load time.
Photo optimization is a big topic I could talk about all day. Instead of actually doing that, let me link you to my three favorite tutorials:
"Prepping Images for the Web Using Photoshop and/or Preview" from developer Zoe Rooney's blog.
"10 Tips on Best Image Sizes for Your Blog" from One Dog Woof.
"Optimizing Images" from the Google Developers knowledgebase.
It's Your Gadgets & Ads
Many gadgets and ads contain content that is hosted on another server outside your blog. That content's "home" on the web can impact the load time of your blog.
One extreme example to illustrate the point is the big Facebook glitch that took giant chunks of the internet down with it in early 2013. Something like that is totally rare, and it's not a reason to avoid gadgets. But, it does demonstrate that a gadget with offsite content can impact your page's load time when something goes wrong at its source.
The same goes for ads. I swear, this is not just me begin a jerk; Forbes magazine will tell you the same thing. Ads, especially too many ads, can slow your blog down.
Choose ads and ad networks judiciously. Don't cram your entire sidebar with ads. Even if your ads are flawlessly coded and served from the world's fastest server, adding too many will impact your page load.
And, though this doesn't have much to do with page speed, it's worth mentioning that search engines don't like excessive ads. Neither do your readers (though they may be too polite to tell you so).
Finding the Slow Gadgets & Ads
If you don't already know which of your gadgets or ads are slowing you down, there's a free online tool you can use to pinpoint them.
Use the Pingdom Website Speed Test to analyze your blog, then sort your results by load time.
If you find your gadgets or ads near the top of the results, cut the ones you can live without.
If even after you've pared down a bit you find that your ads are still a problem, get in touch with the ad's host (often your ad network, sometimes the advertiser themselves) and let them know that you're experiencing performance issues. They may be able to help!
Rose image CC-BY-SA T. Kiya via Flickr