Website speed is a critical part of your business – whether you realize it or not. Sure, people hate waiting, but there is more to it than that. For example, Google has added page speed as an important metric for ranking sites; slow means no organic traffic. Mobile performance is closely tied to this issue as well since data connections are often slower than what an ISP would provide. This can further harm search engine rankings since mobile compatibility is now a factor for Google. By putting the following tips to use, you’ll ensure people can find and easily access your content.
Ditch Shared Hosting
This sentence is the closest you’ll ever find shared hosting to speed. They simply aren’t compatible.
The problem is in the name: shared. Your website – along with the websites of too many others – is hosted on a single virtual or physical server. This is fine if each person receives a low volume of traffic, but the alternative isn’t pretty. Each website must fight for CPU time on top of tackling optimization issues. Add the fact that providers’ profits are related to the number of websites on each server, and the problem is now worse.
Virtual private servers solve this problem. Your website is allocated a virtualized machine which runs only what you require. These servers are often billed according to hourly use and performance tiers, so they can be more expensive. However, fast always comes at a cost.
Large images are the downfall of many websites. Imagine what we would think of the Mona Lisa if it loaded random chunks in an untimely manner. Uncompressed images bring a confused user to your content – a deal breaker for portfolios or sales funnels.
Ideally, compressed images should be the smallest that provide good quality. This may differ on mobile and desktop devices, so take screen sizes into account. If your website runs on WordPress, there are plugins available which will do this for you. A good image handling plugin will:
. Provide the minimum size image needed
. Differentiate between mobile and desktop devices
. Differentiate between retina and non-retina displays
Cache Database Requests
While databases are faster than storing data in, say, a text file, each query is expensive. It may also be the case that each query is unnecessary. Resources are wasted on repeat queries that return the same result. Because of this, many have turned to memory caches.
There are several options available. The two most prominent are Redis and Memcached. They essentially store retrieved database objects in memory, so the things you don’t need won’t hog resources, and repeat retrievals are sped up through RAM access.
Use a Content Delivery Network
Everyone should use a CDN – no excuses. These services replicate your site’s content across the globe. Because of this, users can load your pages faster than if the nearest data center to them was a continent away. And, tied with image compression plugins, this may be the easiest performance tweak you make.
Many consider CloudFlare to be a quality CDN service. It has a free tier which offers the essentials. You may, however, want to consider more advanced or paid options if your website relies heavily on serving content such as videos or images.
Website speed is both an important search engine metric and a critical component of the user experience. This guide covered the basics: VPSs, image compression, memory caches, and CDNs. However, there are still other factors that may prove to be time-consuming. Try not to become too obsessed with speed. In the end, most would rather wait three seconds for quality than wait one second for disappointment.