Even if you’ve done everything right on your end, your site and your business could suffer if you’re stuck with a slow network. When a user types a URL into their browser, a DNS translates that URL into the associated IP address. The amount of time it takes to perform a DNS lookup is a major factor in your page’s load speed and relies on your DNS provider’s speed. You can check the latest DNS speed comparison report to see where your provider ranks.
Using a CDN
Most websites are hosted on one server, which may work if your site receives relatively light traffic. But a single server often delivers information more slowly, especially for those users located farther away.
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) allows you to spread your site over a global network of servers. When a user makes a request from your site, it’s routed to the nearest server in order to communicate efficiently. For example, if your origin server is located in Washington D.C. and someone from Paris makes a request from your site, the server closest to Paris handles the request.
Three of the most popular CDN services are StackPath (formerly MaxCDN), Cloudflare, and Amazon CloudFront. StackPath offers CDN service with tons of data centers that focus on improving load times. Cloudflare and Amazon CloudFront combine CDN service with security and optimization features.
Caching helps browsers identify what can be reused and what needs to be loaded every time a user accesses your site. This allows a page to load faster for returning visitors, with the various components of the page being stored in the user’s cache. The more elements you can cache, the faster your site will load.
For sites running on WordPress, the W3 Total Cache plugin lets you easily enable caching and offers integration with your content delivery network.
When you move or delete a page, you’ll need to create a redirect so the user doesn’t click on a broken link. However, each redirect creates additional HTTP requests, which take up more time. You can minimize the amount of 301 redirects with tools like YSlow, which analyzes your page and provides a list of redirects so you can see which you need to keep or change.
HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is the set of rules governing the connection between your server and your users’ browser. The system was developed in 1991 and hasn’t had a major update since 1999, back when websites were very different. Then came HTTP2 in 2016.
HTTP2 is fast becoming the world standard due to its effects on site speed and its ability to simplify the communication process. HTTP2 doesn’t replace the original HTTP system, but makes it more efficient. The major improvements featured in HTTP2 include:
Multiplexing – Allows multiple elements of a page to be downloaded at once, resulting in fewer server requests.
Header Compression – Reduces the file size during a server request.
Resource Prioritization – Allows the server to prioritize and send only the information needed for the user to view the page.
Server Push – Pushes vital information to the browser before a user makes a request in order to speed up connections.
HTTP2 is backward compatible with HTTP pages, so you won’t need to make many changes to accommodate the new system. While you don’t need to have a TLS (HTTPS) connection to use HTTP2, we recommend you move to a TLS connection for security purposes.
There is one word of caution regarding third-party scripts and HTTP2. Some third-party scripts may not be optimized for HTTP2, which could cause site slowdowns or other problems. We recommend minimizing third-party scripts or at least ensuring that they are compatible with HTTP2.