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Earlier today, Search Engine Land posted about a new label that Google appears to be testing in its search results pages. The red “slow” label warns people that your site is unacceptably slow. This label isn’t a trivial feature. If you care about performance, user experience, and SEO, then you should care about this potential game-changer.

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As a website owner, you have 100% control over your site, plus a hefty amount of control over the first and middle mile of the network your pages travel over. You can (and you should) optimize the heck out of your pages, invest in a killer back end, and deploy the best content delivery network that money can buy. These tactics put you in charge of several performance areas, which is great.

But when it comes to the last mile — or more specifically, the last few feet — matters are no longer in your hands.

Today, let’s review a handful of performance-leaching culprits that are outside your control — and which can add precious seconds to your load times.

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If you asked me to name the single greatest indicator of performance for pages served to mobile devices, I’d say this: faster pages are always less than 1 MB in size. Show me a fat page, and I’ll show you a slow page.

This is why it was alarming to discover that, according to the Mobile HTTP Archive (which tracks page metrics for the top million Alexa-ranked sites), the average page served to mobile devices carries a payload of 1109 KB. This number has more than doubled since 2012, when the average page was 511 KB.

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Some of the bulk and complexity of modern web pages is necessary. Larger images sell more products. Third-party scripts help you to better understand your visitors. But there’s a lot of unnecessary weight on most web pages. Rather than focusing exclusively on all the cool new features you want to add to your site this year, spend some time thinking about what you can take away. Here are four tips to help you get started.

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