9 Ways to Make Your Website Faster

fast_siteFast loading websites are all the rage these days. There’s good reason for that, as customers and visitors expect a web page to load quickly once they click on a search result or link. If it takes more than a few seconds for the page to start loading, some people will click elsewhere.

Google is also the 800 pound gorilla in the room, and they want the web to be faster. As part of this strategy, they give a small boost to a website that loads faster than another if all else is equal. If your site is very slow (think 5+ seconds to start loading), Google may give that page a penalty in its ranking algorithm.

Luckily there are some simple things you can do to make your website faster…

Fast Reliable Hosting

This one is perhaps the most obvious, but also one where some website owners refuse to make a change. Your web host is your partner when it comes to a fast website. They should be able to help you make the changes needed to have your site running its fastest.

Saving a few dollars per month at the expense of a slow website with downtime will end up costing you much more in the long run. If your site is slow, and your web host is not doing all it can to help you make your site faster, look for a web host that will provide you with personal support that is easy to work with… *cough* LexiConn *cough*

Server Side Compression

Compressing text based files like html web pages, css/js files, txt files, etc… can make your pages load faster for your visitors. The web server shrinks them down and sends a smaller file to the viewer’s web browser. This means less data to send, which results in faster page loads.

It’s one of the easiest gains you can make, and only requires a few lines of code in your site’s .htaccess file. There are usually no issues with enabling server side compression. If you host with us, we can put this code in place for your site.

Additionally, software such as Magento and WordPress have built-in caching (or extensions) in their software to cache specific data and pages. Enabling these caches can help pages load much faster overall. We can help any hosted client with setting these up correctly to make sure the site still operates with dynamic data as it is intended.

Client Side Caching

Different from server side caching, this tells the web browser to cache (remember) static assets such as images and css/js files. This means that on subsequent pages that are viewed, if the same asset/file is called, the browser does not have to download it again, making the page load much faster.

Like server side caching, this is a few lines of code that is added to a site’s .htaccess file. Usually it is quite simple, but we have seen issues where overzealous webmasters have set caching on dynamic pages, which can cause issues with pages updating properly when changes should appear.

Your web host should be able to set up these rules correctly to maximize speed while minimizing impact on dynamic content.

Lossless Image Compression

When you create and upload images, you may not have optimized the image itself to be the smallest it can be in terms of byte size. This can lead to “bloated” pages where the images take longer to load than they should.

Lossless image compression refers to optimizing each image in your account to be compressed to the smallest size possible. We’ve seen images that were Megabytes in size be compressed over 90% without any loss in clarity. This type of compression can make a page load *seconds* faster.

If you host with us, we can run a lossless compression on your images to make sure they are as compact as possible.

Anycast DNS

All nameservers are not created equal. With regular DNS, when a visitor first types in your website or clicks on a link, their computer must translate the domain name into an IP number. This is accomplished by asking one of the nameservers what the IP address is. The nameserver that responds is just a “round robin” approach, meaning it may not be the fastest nameserver closest to the visitor.

With Anycast DNS, the closest (i.e. fastest) nameserver is queried for the IP address, which can be 5 to 10 times faster than traditional DNS. This can result in the page starting to render faster for a first time visitor. Anycast is similar to a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for DNS.

If you host with us, our Premium Managed DNS Service offers Anycast DNS.

Content Delivery Network

A Content Delivery Network (CDN) will help your static files such as images and css/js files load faster for your visitors. This translates into a faster loading page. A CDN is a global network where your images and css/js files get distributed. When a visitor comes to your site, these files are loaded from the closest/fastest point to them, which makes your pages load faster.

A CDN allows your site to respond quickly to global visitors, or visitors spread out across the United States. Often the images and css/js files are the largest, so having them load faster gets you the most benefit in terms of a quick loading site.

Most software can integrate seamlessly with a CDN. ShopSite, Magento, and WordPress can all work with a CDN easily. We offer a CDN Service to clients that host with us.

HTTP/2 Protocol

This is a newer technology (think set of rules/guidelines) whose goal is to make the web faster.  Modern web servers can use the new HTTP/2 Protocol, which helps webpages load faster. It does this in a number of ways:

  • Multiplexed streams (think parallel loading instead of serial loading)
  • Server can push data before it’s requested (e.g. it’s reading the browser’s mind)
  • Binary instead of text processing (1s and 0s are faster)
  • Prioritization of data streams
  • Header compression

HTTP/2 works great with SSL secure pages, and can help make a site load quicker to the end user. We support this at LexiConn.

OpCode Caching (for PHP based sites)

If you run a PHP based site such as Magento, WordPress / WooCommerce, Joomla, etc… this can dramatically help load times for dynamic pages. With regular PHP, each page requested has to be compiled and then delivered to the web browser. With OpCode caching, the PHP code can be compiled and cached (saved), so that subsequent requests serve the compiled code instead of recompiling it each time.

OpCode caching can make a big difference for PHP based sites. We support OpCode caching for any PHP based site.

Disable Plugins and Extensions

For PHP based sites like Magento, WordPress, and Joomla, often the slowest item is the number of plugins / extensions that get installed and are not really needed. Each one often adds time to a page load (some in the seconds range for poorly coded extensions), and if you have too many, your pages take a long time to load.

Caching can help overcome some of this, but it’s best to limit these plugins/extensions to those that are essential to the operation of your site. Deleting not needed plugins can make a world of difference in how responsive/fast your website appears.

As you can see, there a number of things you can do to make your website faster. Your web host should be able to help you set these up to have the fastest website possible. If not, it may be time to consider a new host that makes speed a priority.

If you’re already hosted with us, and have questions about anything in this post, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’ll make sure your site is running as fast it can!

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Check us out today!

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