Web Hosting Is The Key To Website Performance Optimization
How does web hosting impact website performance?
Learn from my mistakes. When I built my first wordpress website, I had heard of web hosting but I didn’t have a clue what it was used for or how to describe it. I realized I needed one so I did what anyone would do… I Googled it! After researching first page results, I chose Hostgator because so many cool websites used them. This did the job for me for 2 years but if I had the Wisdom I’m about to share with you, it wouldn’t have lasted a month. Let me first clarify that this wasn’t the first website I built, just the first site built on a WordPress platform. I have an SEO background so I know how important performance is when it comes to ranking high in Google.
Why is website performance so important?
In my opinion, Google’s reputation is the most valuable aspect of their company. The overall population is confident that Google will send them to websites that provide what they searched for. What does this have to do with anything? Everything! If you want Google to steer them to your site, you need to establish a reputation that Google and your visitors will trust. Now you may say you’re already doing that but this has a lot more to take into consideration. Not only do you have to have what they are looking for, but you have to provide a good experience and make it simple for them to move throughout your site. If sites don’t load quickly, or links don’t send you to the right place, you are providing a bad user experience. Getting listed on the first page of Google may be impossible to achieve without a great user experience. A good user experience will also increase the overall perception of your company which will lead to higher rankings in Google. The top 3 benefits gained from optimizing your website performance are listed below.
By providing a good experience for your visitors, they will be more likely to stay on your page and browse throughout your site. This will translate into higher percentage of sales from your visitors known as your conversion rate. A poor user experience featuring slow page loading and broken links will drive your customers away. This is known as your bounce rate and high bounce rates are a red flag to Google that visitors are not liking the overall experience on your website.
This is common sense so we won’t go into much detail on perception. Think of it like this… Two different websites offer the same thing. One site loads in under a second and the other takes 5 seconds to load. It’s obvious which website you would perceive to be the better business. Don’t sacrifice performance for features. If the feature is necessary for your business, make sure it is working properly to give the right perception to your visitors.
Don’t optimize your website based on what you think Google wants. This is the most common mistake I see. Remember, you are not optimizing the performance of your site for Google. You are doing it to provide a better overall experience to your visitors, leading Google to trust your business to handle the visitors they send you. Your goal should be to offer something people want and provide a great user experience for them. This will lead to a better perception of your company overall, leading to free targeted visitors from Google.
FREE SITES TO CHECK WEBSITE PERFORMANCE
8 WISE WAYS TO MAKE YOUR WEBSITE FASTER
Now that you know why website performance optimization is so important, take a look at some simple things you can do to make sure you are doing the right things on your website. If any of the words in this post are foreign to you, we have created web hosting and performance frequently asked questions at the end of this post.
- Choose the right web host. Check how fast sites they host are loading in the tools above. When you see messages to reduce your server response time, this is the number one factor.
- Optimize your images. On average 61% of websites page size is made up of images. Make sure you are not using images that are 3000px wide if your site is set up to display up to 1200px wide (that’s a waste). This is just one example. Save your files as jpeg. If you need transparent backgrounds, you can save as png but these will be larger file sizes overall compared to jpeg. There are also websites or plugins you can use that will optimize your images for you.
- If you have a lot of static image files, consider using a cdn where your images and static files can be loaded from a region closer to your visitors. CDN is just short for content delivery network. This ensures the images don’t have to wait for all of your html content to load before they are displayed. This also saves bandwidth because they aren’t loading from your server. They load from the server of your CDN based on the region your visitor is in. A Free CDN you could try is Cloudflare.
- Use a Caching plugin. We use w3 total cache. Another popular wordpress caching plugin is wp-supercache. We have used both and we now use w3 total cache exclusively. A caching plugin allows specific things to load in the browser quicker for returning customers. They don’t have to download the contents of every page each time they visit your site. This also saves on your bandwidth.
- Don’t use unnecessary plugins. Plugins can often conflict with other plugins and they increase the time it takes to load your website pages.
- Research http requests and learn how you can keep your requests to a minimum. There are only so many requests that can be handled at any given time.
I know this post has gotten a bit more technical but performance optimization not always simple to explain in everyday terminology. If you have any additional questions or need help optimizing your website performance, please contact us below.
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WEB HOSTING AND PERFORMANCE FAQ
Web hosting is the business of providing storage space and access for websites.
WordPress is an open source website creation tool written in PHP. In simple terms, it’s the most powerful blogging and website content management system (or CMS) in existence today. The top 3 platforms for modern websites are WordPress, Magento or Open-Cart.
User experience (UX) is the process of enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty by improving usability, ease of use and emotions felt by the customer interacting with the website.
Page speed refers to the amount of time a page needs to be completely loaded. Page speed depends on many different factors including your web hosting to the efficiency of your code in your website design.
Anytime a web browser such as Chrome, Safari or Firefox requests a file from a web server. A Web server is where your website is hosted. Files can be images, pages and videos to name a few. Http stands for hypertext transfer protocol. In simplest terms, your computer requests to see a file (ie home.html) and your website responds by showing you the file. Try to remove any unnecessary http requests for better performance.
A content delivery network or CDN is a system of distributed servers (network) that deliver webpages and other Web content to a user. The server that the content loads from is based on the geographic region of the user, the origin of the webpage and the content delivery server. CDNs also provide protection from large surges in traffic.
Http caching (web cache) is an information technology for the temporary storage (caching) of web documents, such as HTML pages and images, to reduce bandwidth usage, server load, and perceived lag. For example, a visitor on your website goes to a page on your site. All of the static content (content that doesn’t change) is downloaded to the browser and cached. The next time the visitor goes to this page, the static content will be loaded without having to redownload all of the files again.
Bandwidth in web hosting is the actual amount of data transferred through the website at one time. When your site is loaded to a new visitor, the entire amount of content sent to the visitors browser would be considered bandwidth. Some hosts allow for unlimited bandwidth, whereas, some hosts limit the amount of bandwidth you can use each month. Make sure you are not getting near exceeding your bandwidth limits or your performance can be limited or even prevent your website from loading.
Plugins are software and functionality that can easily be added to a wordpress website. There are great plugins available that are must have’s for any website. However, you want to be careful how you balance the plugins you use on your site. Plugins can add a lot of bloated code and don’t always interact well with plugins from different developers. Use plugins for necessary features and functions and remove any unnecessary plugins that don’t add value to the overall user experience for your visitors.
CSS or cascading style sheets are used to format your website layout. You can dictate the size of images displayed, heading sizes, colors and fonts to name a few. A well defined CSS structure allows you to easily modify the overall appearance of your website.