Users’ expectations have grown and their patience has decreased. If a website speed is fast, users will be more willing to stay on the page. Even if users do not run away, a slow site will leave them disappointed, frustrated, and likely to abandon your site even in the midst of shopping.
Furthermore, Google has clearly stated that the speed of a site will affect a site’s ranking in the search results. So in order to keep both your users and Google happy, it is important to pay attention to site speed. In this blog, I will tell you several ways to boost your website speed.
Reduce the Size of above-the-fold Content
Minimize the additional network round trips to load the above-the-fold content of your webpage.
The initial congestion window is about 14.6kB (compressed) and if your page size exceeds this window, the result is the delay in loading time.
Now, the question is – how you can achieve this?
The answer is – allow the above-the-fold content to load first by changing the order of loading. For example, if your HTML is loading the third party widgets first then change the code to load the main body content first. Minimize resources by removing unnecessary whitespaces and comments. Instead of loading the sidebar first, allow the HTML to load the main content body as the first item. Moreover, enable compression and consider using CSS instead of images.
Once you’ve minified and combined some of your files, you can also optimize the way that they load on your pages.
If your scripts load synchronously, they load one at a time, in the order they appear on the page. If your scripts load asynchronously, on the other hand, some of them will load simultaneously.
Loading files asynchronously can speed up your pages because when a browser loads a page, it moves from top to bottom.
Using the same “Static Files” tab of the WP Rocket plugin, check the options next to “Render-blocking CSS/JS.”Click “Save Changes,” then test your site to make sure that everything loads correctly.
Take the WebPageTest
WebpageTest is one of the smartest ways to identify any major issues related to site speed.
Simply enter the domain to be tested, and this tool will provide a grade on each of the following important elements that impact the site speed:
- Time to First Byte (TTFB) that measures the responsiveness of the server.
- Use of enable keep-alive (persistent connection) HTTP Header.
- Use of Gzip compression.
- Use of image compression.
- Leveraging browser caching for static assets.
- Effective use of CDN.
Here is a screenshot of the WebpageTest for Amazon.com. Notice the grades in green and yellow. The test provides complete data that you can share with your development team to further optimize your site speed to levels of perfection.
Simply put, caching is the technical term for storing data in a temporary storage area. This improves a site’s performance since a lot of a page’s content is already prepared and available and does not need be fetched and processed in order to be displayed for a user. It also reduces the load of various system resources on your server.
We recommend you use the caching plugins provided by Bluehost, that are built to work best in that environment. You can find these cache settings in the performance page of the Bluehost plugin or WordPress section of the control panel.
If your site is not a WordPress site, enabling caching is more complex and beyond the scope of this article. In either case, you should discuss caching options with your hosting provider, since they will often have recommendations based on the optimizations they have implemented on their end.
Minimise round trip times (RTTs)
Round trip time is the time taken for the client to send a request and the server to respond. It’s affected by a huge range of things, but is primarily impacted by the number of requests that are being sent.
To reduce the number of requests, use CSS sprites to call less images, minify and combine your JS and CSS files, and don’t call anything that you don’t need. One of my biggest gripes with WordPress is how plugins that are only needed on certain pages, such as Disqus, or Contact Form 7, tend to be called on every single page, which creates unnecessary requests. Reducing the number of unnecessary requests will reduce your RTTs.
Choose the right hosting option for your needs
Most new site owners choose the cheapest possible option for hosting. While this is often enough in the beginning, you’ll likely need to upgrade once you start getting more traffic. Don’t skimp on your host, get one that you can trust. There are a great set of the reviews on the best web hosts here.
When looking at hosting, you have three different options:
- Shared hosting
- VPS hosting
- Dedicated server
Shared hosting is the cheapest option and you can often get it for about five dollars per month. While it’s fine for low-traffic sites, shared hosting does struggle to keep up with traffic spikes and high-volume sites. And it is possible for your site to be impacted by traffic spikes from other sites using the same server as you.
With shared hosting, you share certain resources like CPU, disk space, and RAM with other sites hosted on the same server.
With VPS hosting, you still share a server with other sites, but you have your own dedicated portions of the server’s resources. This is a good in-between option. It protects your site from everyone else on your server without the cost required for dedicated hosting.
KeyCDN explains this using the analogy of living in an apartment vs. living in a condo.
When you live in an apartment, you share certain facilities like laundry rooms and parking lots and have access to the building’s maintenance team.
When you live in a condo, on the other hand, you don’t use common spaces, and you’re responsible for certain repairs and maintenance. There are also fewer residents in the building.
You can look at dedicated hosting, then, as owning a home. You don’t share resources with anyone else, and you’re responsible for all maintenance.
With a dedicated server, you have much more space — but you also have more work to do with configuration and technical setup.
If you need tons of space and want complete control over your hosting, this is your best bet.
As you may have guessed, though, it’s the most expensive option.
If you’re at a point where your traffic levels are slowing down your server response times, it may be time to switch from shared hosting to a VPS, or from a VPS to a dedicated server.