Having a fast-loading website is a must in today’s digital marketing world. Countless studies have shown that if your website takes long to load you are more likely to lose potential customers to your online competition. Page load time, or page speed as it is called, is also a major search engine ranking factor. A slow site will cause a decrease in rankings.
Most websites use content management systems like WordPress or Joomla to help with ease of content updates and general usability. As popular as both of these systems are (we really like WordPress), they are extremely slow in terms of site performance. This is due to the nature of the content management system calling saved content from a database. However, there are several steps that our ad agency likes to take to make sure our internet marketing clients have the fastest sites possible.
Most companies look for the best deal possible. The lowest possible cost hosting almost always guarantees some sort of shared hosting scenario which means server resources like processing, bandwidth, and memory will be subject to load and strain from many other websites at the same time. Hosting is more important than a lowest possible cost.
Additionally, the closer you are to the actual physical server that serves your website, the faster it will load. So, if you’re hosting at Hostgater in Houston, TX and work in the Galleria, your website should load very quickly.
We like to set our clients up on their own servers with dedicated resources to ensure great response time and load balancing.
Content Delivery Network and Security
Beyond dedicated hosting, a single server can only handle so much traffic. On large sites that rely on heavy use of images, video, audio, and design elements, a large amount of data will take longer to load. By using a content delivery network (CDN) you can syndicate your website’s content across a large network. This allows your website to be served from servers that are closest to users’ geographic regions.
Different elements of your website should be hosted on different networks as well. For example, static elements like HTML, css, and images can be hosted through a CDN which saves on bandwidth. Other elements, like content from the database, can be served directly from the website’s hosting or through a separate cloud infrastructure (our preferred suggestion for high traffic sites).
Monitoring CDNs and security networks, like New Relic and CloudFlare, provided additional security from DOS attacks and other malicious behavior. These security features are especially important when using an open source content management system like WordPress.
Wordfence is another great security platform that allows you to track activity and block malicious users in real time. It also automatically checks for security issues and outdated code on your website.
Optimization; Images, Code, and Database
Images should always be prepared for web usage. This reduces the overall file size without compromising image quality. Working with a blogging system like WordPress usually demands visual appeal and constantly updated images. Most designers are accustomed to optimizing images individually. However, with plugins like EWWW Image Optimizer you simply need to crop and upload your images. WordPress then optimizes and crunches your images down to size. Images should also enable Lazy Load as it will allow the rest of the website to load faster while waiting on the images.
The database is what maintains most of the content for the website. Every plugin and post revision is constantly uploaded to the database and stored. Even with hosting provider’s built in database optimization tools, websites on content management systems still perform slower than static (HTML) websites, on average.
A great plugin, like WP-Optimize, will empty your database, clean up rows and tables, and remove orphaned files and options that bog websites down with 1 click. You can multiply your databases efficiency with Revision Control which will cut down on the number of revisions that WordPress stores in your database.
We utilize this structure for all of our smaller brands, but the results have really shown an advantage. Our best optimization took a website page from 2.5MB (12 seconds loading time) down to 1MB and 1.86 loading time. If your website is too slow, you are losing out on potential business and traffic.