5 Ways to Reap the Rewards of Improved Site Speed

Speeding up your website will help you in many ways. By increasing load times you are likely to lower bounce rates, help your SEO, and create a better user experience for visitors to your site. Here are five smart ways to speed things up.

Utilize CDNs 

Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) are extensive networks of servers housed all over the world.  If you are not utilizing a CDN, it usually means that your users will need to access your web host’s server at its central location.

This can lead to slow website speeds, particularly when your visitors are located a long way from your server’s central location. If you are only using one server, it may become overloaded and cause your website to crash.

Both of those problems are solved by a CDN. A CDN allows users to access a cached version of your website from a web host that is near their location. Even better, if your server is overloaded, visitors will automatically switched over to a different server location.

This results in faster load time, and leads to happier customers (and search engines).

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Keep HTTP Requests To A Minimum

Yahoo reports that 80% of the load time of a page is spent downloading the various parts of the page, including: flash, scripts, style sheets, and images.  An HTTP request is made for each of the elements, so more on-page components means that a page will take longer to render. The fastest way to improve your website speed is to simplify your design.

  • Streamline how many elements are included in your pages.
  • Whenever possible, use CSS rather than images.
  • Combine multiple style sheets into a single one.
  • Reduce your scripts and place them on the bottom of your page.

Always keep in mind that leaner is better.

Pro Tip: Get a campaign started to reduce the components on each page. This reduces the number of HTTP requests that are needed to make the page render – this significantly will improve your website’s performance.

Optimize Database Tables

Optimizing your database tables is similar to changing your car’s oil or defragging your computer – it helps to free up space and ensure that your database continues to run smoothly.

You can manually optimize database tables using either a plugin or phpMyAdmin.

Compress Images

Images are usually the largest files on a website, so it will takes ages for them to load if they are not compressed.

Fortunately, there are some excellent tools available to help you compress your files.

WPMU DEV now manages and supports WP Smush.it, a program that automatically strips data from JPEGs and takes unused colors out of indexed pages.

Another great tool is Tiny PNG, which strips un-used colors from glossy compressions.

If your website has lots of images then you may want to implement Lazy Loading. The Lazy Load plugin enables you to load images above the fold only whenever a new visitor lands on your website.  Images then load after a visitor starts to scroll down the page. In addition, if you improve page speed load times, this technique will also save bandwidth on users who don’t scroll down to the very bottom of your pages.

WP-DBManager lets you restore, backup, repair and optimize your database.

Another database optimization and cleanup tool is called WP-Optimize.  This plugin allows you to remove items in trash, unapproved comments, comments in your spam queue, and post revisions.

Javascript code should be kept at the bottom of the page, and CSS files on the top of your pages.

Finally, be sure that your website’s code is kept neat and tidy by adding CSS files on the top of the code, and Javacript snippets added to the bottom whenever you are working on a raw HTML page.

When your CSS files are added to the top of pages it prohibits progressive rending. This saves resources that would otherwise be used by web browsers for loading and redrawing page elements.  When Javascript is added to the bottom of your pages it prevents them from waiting for full code execution before they load, and this makes browsing faster.

These are just a few of the various techniques that you can use to speed up your website, and they are among the easiest for you to implement.

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