How To Increase Website Speed
Website speed is very important for a handful of reasons. First of all, if your affiliate site loads slowly then you can forget about anyone reading your message and then, on top of that, clicking your affiliate links. This simply isn’t going to happen.
Secondly, there’s the topic of SEO. Right now Google openly admits that they do take loading times into account when ranking your site. What this means to some extent is that the faster your site is the better rank it gets.
Now the most important part … how to increase your website’s speed?
Start with Hosting
This shouldn’t be a surprise to you. The fact is, if you don’t sign up for a quality hosting service you can forget about any decent website speed.
Start by selecting a webhost that offers servers in the area (country) where you want to do most of your affiliate business.
For US affiliates this isn’t a problem at all as there are tens of great companies (Blue Host, Host Gator, etc.). If you’re running an international site, however, try to find a local provider or select a company like IX Web Hosting that offers servers in many regions of the world.
This should go without saying at this point. WordPress is the leader among website management platforms, not without a reason.
WordPress is free, easy to use, and extremely customizable. Also, it’s quite quick by itself.
Since we’re talking WordPress let’s mention WordPress themes. Always go for a quality theme from a respected theme store (Woo Themes, ThemeFuse, Theme Forest). Forget about free themes as they often include some kind of strange PHP code that can’t be removed or the theme stops working.
Sign Up for Google Webmaster Tools
In essence, Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) is the best package of tools and apps to help you make sure that Google is happy with the structure of your website.
Among other pieces of advice, GWT can let you know what to do to improve your site’s speed. The diagnostics panel lets you know about any crawl errors found on your site, any malware issues, broken links, or other structural issues with your site. There’s also a section called “Site performance.” The advice there, when followed, will improve your site’s structure, its speed, and – as a result – its rankings.
Use Optimization Plugins
There are thousands of plugins available for WordPress, and not surprisingly some are more useful than others. Among the ultra-useful ones are two plugins for seeding up a WordPress site.
W3 Total Cache is the ultimate plugin for WordPress performance. As the name indicates it’s a caching plugin. This means that it stores the current version of your site, and then displays it to visitors without running all the scripts again. This creates a huge improvement in performance.
Actually, at least 10x improvement in overall site performance is not uncommon. No wonder some of the biggest hosting companies on the internet actually recommend using this plugin on all WordPress sites.
And if you’re more savvy in terms of website optimization you can take advantage of many customization options and features.
Images often consume the majority of your site’s bandwidth … this is just the way it is. Text itself is not that big in terms of disk space, but images are.
One way of dealing with this is to stop using images altogether – not the best idea. Another solution is to get WP Smush.it.
The plugin uses a service called Smush.it to optimize every image used on your WordPress site. It strips down meta data from JPEGs, optimizes JPEG compression, converts certain GIFs to indexed PNGs, and strips the unused colors from images.
All this makes images a lot smaller, and as a result your website operates a lot faster. This really is a must-have.
Using PageSpeed or YSlow
PageSpeed and YSlow are tools that can help you improve your site’s speed in an indirect way. Most of the time they won’t do the work for you (PageSpeed does, but more on that later), but they’ll tell you what to do exactly, so you don’t have to figure it out on your own.
Both tools are available as plugins for the most popular browsers (Firefox, Chrome, etc.). They both run performance tests based on a set of best practices known to reduce your site’s loading times. They grade your site and then offer you suggestions on what you can do to improve your results.
On top of that, PageSpeed also offers an Apache server’s module that automatically rewrites your pages to improve their performance, so it’s actually a service that automatically speeds up your site. Quite an advanced tool.
Using a Content Delivery Network
The way Wikipedia teaches us is that a content delivery network is a large distributed system of servers deployed in multiple data centers around the world. The purpose of such a network is to deliver data at high availability and high performance.
In essence, this is somewhat similar to a cloud-based hosting package, only more advanced. Using such a solution makes sense if you’re providing a lot of big media files on your website. Things like videos, audios, or PDFs.
If you decide to deliver such data through a content delivery network then you’ll make everything run significantly faster.
In the end, using WordPress and getting W3 Total Cache and WP Smush.it is more than enough to speed up your site significantly … actually to a degree that will be visible to a normal user, not to mention the search engines.
What are your favorite ways of improving site speed? Is there something you’d like to add here?