Guide to Optimizing Your Website For Speed

improve website speed

Website optimization is an important part of any website’s development. Sadly, it is often overlooked by most of the webmasters. In this guide we discuss some of the most common ways you can considerably improve your website’s speed. This guide is relevant for both blogs and websites alike, however for the sake of convenience we use “website” more often than “blog”.

Having a faster website or blog will help you increase readership too. A research done by Amazon found out every 100ms delay in website speed decreased their conversion by 1%. Search Engines also favour faster loading webpages in their search results.

You Need a Stellar Host

Web optimization can only help you fine tune things. If your host is sub-standard or unable to meet your bandwidth/throughput requirements, fine tuning other aspects won’t make much of a difference.

There is no single host or setup that we can recommend that will fit every website’s requirements. It all depends on the type of platform you use and the amount of traffic you get. Geographical location of your users is also a factor worth considering. If most of your readers are in the UK, for example, it would be a better idea to have your website hosted in UK itself.

Serve Static Content From Cookieless Domain

Static content is the content that will not change. Your website’s homepage may change very often, but it is unlikely that your logo will. Therefore, it is a good idea to serve all static content like images, video etc. from a separate cookieless domain. Every time resources are exchanged between the server and browser from your root domain, a cookie is saved. This is counterproductive for performance as you don’t really need cookie information for the static content of your website.

Use a Content Delivery Network

The basic idea behind a content delivery network is to serve data from a location as close to the end user as possible. This drastically improve website response time. Content delivery networks have evolved over the years and help you with a lot more than just content delivery. Content delivery network might also help you with serving static content from cookieless domain as discussed above.

Robust CDN providers like CloudFlare and MaxCDN are very capable platforms. Apart from content delivery, they also help with security, protect you from DDoS attacks. They even cache content and serve it to the users, further reducing the site load time. Most of the CDN also automatically minify CSS/Javascript.

If there is one thing I would do first to improve site speed, it would be deploying a content delivery network.

Use Compression On Your Server

Whenever someone opens your website, their browser requests your webserver to transfer data to it. This is then rendered and displayed by the browser.

You can compress this data before it is sent out to the user. There are multiple ways to go about it depending on the configuration of your webserver.

By far, Gzip is the most widely used compression method for serving content on the web. It has easy implementation on almost every famous webserver program, be it Apache, Nginx or IIS.