Knowing what the main factors are that affect your website performance is one thing, but there is also much you can do to optimize your site as much as possible. Without going through an exhaustive list, here are some tweaks you can make to increase your site performance;
1. Opt for better web host
Your web hosting is one of the most vital parts of your web performance. If your site is suffering under your current plan you may simply require more resources and moving to a better plan may work for you. Shared hosting often has less in terms of resources and if you’ve outgrown that you may need to look at either VPS or Cloud hosting.
There are times when simply choosing to move to a better web hosting provider may work as well. Before you undertake to do so however, spend some time doing research to find out what your most reliable options to move to would be.
2. Use a faster DNS provider
Where you buy your domain name matters as various domain name services have different performance. DNS resolution takes time and since it works on hardware, there can be variation in response speeds.
Before you scoff at this, do note that the difference in performance can be pretty significant. For example, where Cloudflare resolves in less than 15ms, some providers may take as much as ten times longer than that.
In one recent study, Cloudflare DNS was timed at 5.6ms; comparatively, an Akamai DNS lookup took more than 90ms in the test.
To check your Nameserver performance you can use a tool like the one on Site 24×7. Run it with your domain name and it’ll let you know how long your Nameserver took to respond to a query. If it’s too high, you might want to consider changing Nameservers. This isn’t difficult to do.
Changing Nameservers to Improve Speed
There are both free and paid Nameservers around which you can choose from. Not all paid options are necessarily better. Take for example Cloudflare. They are among the fastest in domain name resolution with quick speeds even for free accounts.
However, the choice is yours. What you need to do first is to sign up with the new Nameserver of your choice. This will give you a pair of Nameserver addresses that you need to replace your existing ones with.
To do this you will need to log in to the system where you bought your domain name. Most of these have a simple dashboard for you to change your Nameservers with. In the example below, I’m going to show the NameCheap system.
- From your account dashboard, look for an option to Manage your domain name.
- Under Nameservers, look for an option to add Custom DNS
- Enter the addresses provided by your new Nameserver service
- You MUST enter both addresses provided
Once you’ve done this, managing the records of your domain name will typically be done through the dashboard of your new Nameserver. Give the new Nameserver time to settle in (24 to 48 hours is good).
Once that’s over you can re-test your DNS resolution speed again to see if there’s any improvement. If at first you don’t see an improvement, give it a bit more time.
3. Cache aggressively
Caching helps you pre-load static files so that they can be served faster. Instead of loading a file every time it is requested, caching speeds up the process by storing some files on the users browser. This not only improves performance but can also help reduce resource load on your web server.
Not all web servers are created equal and some handle this better than others. For best performance, opt for a web host that offers NGINX or Varnish. Some examples of these are SiteGround which has load balancing and caching with NGINX. Another is A2 Hosting which has pre-configured Varnish with their VPS plans.
4. Use HTTP/2
This is one of the useful features that all website owners should look out for. HTTP/2 enables multiplexing, which means that files can be sent concurrently to the user instead of one at a time. This helps the loading process.
Unfortunately, not all web hosting plans are HTTP/2 enabled and some web hosts only offer it with their more expensive plans. One way to work around this is by using Cloudflare, which can enable HTTP/2 for all sites.
5. Enable gzip compression
Although web pages are typically already small, compressing them before they are sent out can still increase your site performance. Each web server type such as Apache, LiteSpeed and NGINX handles gzip compression differently.
6. Use a CDN
Content Distribution Networks (CDNs) have so much to offer in terms of website performance nowadays. They work by helping websites balance their loads to cope with web traffic and allow limited caching on their servers to speed up the site loading process. Cloudflare is a popular CDN that also has free plans you might like to experiment with.
7. Optimize images
Although typically large, images for web use can be optimized to help keep their sizes more manageable. This is usually done by adjusting image quality since you don’t often need fantastic sharpness for web images.
8. Minify code
To fine tune your site even further, even your code can be optimized through a process called minification. This works by stripping out blank spaces or unnecessary characters from existing code to trim file size down to a bare minimum.
Again, there are tools you can use for this such as Minifier. One word of warning though. Code minification often makes it very difficult for humans to read so if you are doing all your site coding manually, this would be something to take into consideration.
9. Avoid redirects
There are quite a few situations under which website owners may decide to use redirects. They can help prevent broken links, allow the use of multiple domain names or even help with forcing HTTPS usage. Unfortunately redirects also increase the delay at which pages load and where possible should be avoided.
Conclusion: Lose Seconds, Not Visitors
According to Google, 40% of visitors will leave a page that takes more than three seconds to load. Users of eCommerce platforms who are unhappy with site performance are also less likely to buy from those sites again.
When you combine those facts and so many others like it, the argument for improving your website performance becomes so much more compelling. Also take into consideration the few tweaks I’ve mentioned here alone and how easy it would be to implement most of them.
It sometimes takes a steady load of small actions to build a mountain and the road towards increasing your website performance can be approached in the same manner as well. Time spent taking small but positive steps towards increasing your site speed will pay off in the long run.