If you are an experienced blogger or a webmaster, you would definitely know the importance of a fast website. Today is no longer in the dial-up era and Internet users have less patience. There is nothing more irritating to them than a slow loading website. In fact, most people would navigate away if they were made to wait more than 6 seconds. Unless, of course, you have a website that commands incoming traffic, for example from Google and Facebook.
But since most of us have pretty average website in reality, we need to implement ways on how we can speed up our website in order to create a higher user satisfaction. Which in turn should increase our website traffic.
How do we do that? Let’s take a look at some of the practical ways we can make our website faster.
Reliable web hosting provider
Having an appropriate web hosting provider should be the very first thing you need to look into. There are plenty of web hosting providers out there, even free ones such as Weebly. Many years ago, hosting charges were pretty expensive. But these days, as the web hosting industry gets more and more competitive, hosting packages have become really affordable, like what you can get from Bluehost.
So what are the features that would affect your website loading speed?
This refers to the amount of data transferred in a month. The higher your bandwidth, the more data you can transfer and the faster it can be downloaded. I am sure you have noticed that there are some providers who offer a certain bandwidth monthly while others offer “unlimited” file transfer.
Now, just to get certain terms straight, “unlimited” here doesn’t mean infinite per say. We do live in a limited resources world, after all. This unlimited bandwidth is unrestricted though. This means you get to use as much bandwidth as a “normal” website uses. But let’s save the argument of what “normal” here means, for another day.
Now, Bluehost is one of my favorite hosting providers because they are one of leading web host who offer unlimited file transfer. Generally, it’s the bigger companies like Bluehost who are able to provide unlimited bandwidth as they own and manage their own hardware and technology.
- Number of domains on a server
This is simple Math. A server hosting more domains is slower than a server with fewer domains. Therefore, it is important to look for a hosting company who does not squeeze as many domains as they can get away with, into one server!
While I do not have details as to how many domains are hosted in each of Bluehost’s servers as web hosting providers do not disclose such information, I did find Bluehost to be consistent in their speed in all the websites that I have hosted with them.
Speed up with Content Delivery Network (CDN)
If your website is getting lots of visitors on a daily basis, you may want to consider using a CDN, especially if your website has a lot of big images and videos. How this works is really pretty simple. It’s a network of servers strategically located around the world, which stores copies of your website contents. What this system intends to do is to deliver your content more efficiently to your visitors by using a more geographically convenient server.
I have tried a few and I found MaxCDN to be one of the best, with up to 3 times faster than your hosting speed. MaxCDN’s network is extensive with over 500 peering partners and directly reaching over 90 countries, thus creating a fast and reliable performance. There’s no monthly fee and instead, you are charged $39.95 for the first 1TB. All in all, a pretty good deal, if you ask me!
Optimize images on your website
One of the most common actions webmasters make is uploading too many big images. Bear in mind that, images are slow to load and should be limited to as few as possible in each web page.
Also, pay attention to use the correct image format to reduce the downloading time. For example, if you were to post photos, have them compressed in JPEG format and use GIF if you need to have animated pictures. Flash is so out-dated and takes too much precious downloading time and should be avoided if possible.
The other thing you can do to optimize images is to reduce their file sizes to increase your website’s performance. Instead of reducing the height and width only, you can use Photoshop or plugins like WordPress’ Smush.it to effectively cut out unnecessary file sizes.
Fix broken links
404 and 410 errors are little things that can slow down your website. Over time, as your blog or website grows, there are bound to be broken links, both internal and external. This is mainly due to website reorganization… from deletion of an outdated page to major restructuring of a website that resulted in changing of your pages’ URLs.
Fortunately, there are plugins that can help you locate these broken links, missing images and redirects like the WordPress’ Broken Link Checker.
Do check your website for broken links often so that not only your website will load faster, but this will also give you a better ranking on search engines like Google.
Cache dynamic pages
While dynamic pages like those created using scripting languages like ASP and PHP, are great when it comes to building a large database driven website, they can slow down your website. What you can do about it is to cache them, especially those that you hardly ever make changes, eg the “About Us” and “Contact Us” pages.
The advantage is that cached pages reduce loading time by reducing the number of queries to the database. If your website is running on WordPress, you are in luck as there are a couple of caching plugins that you can install to speed up your website immediately.
- WP Super Cache
One of which is the WP Super Cache, one of the top WordPress cache plugins around with over 3 million downloads. Installing the plugin is simple and can be done in just a few clicks. By using this plugin, you can see your website’s downloading time is significantly reduced. Through this plugin, you can integrate MaxCDN easily too!
- W3 Total Cache
Alternatively, you can also use W3 Total Cache, another caching plugin with more than 1 million downloads and is recommended by quite a number of hosting providers and popular sites. Users reported at least 10x improvement in performance after installation.
Just a word of advice, do perform a backup of your website before installing and configuring the plugins.
- WP Super Cache
With so many competitive websites out there, you cannot afford to take the risk of having a slow loading website.
Try our website optimization tips above. Not only would you be able to increase your website’s SEO, you can also provide your visitors a better surfing experience. These will ultimately, translate into having a higher traffic!