Improve your Websites Speed by Being Close to your Server

Quick data transfer is an undeniable necessity for web professionals.  Many web designers take for granted the process involved in data transfer.  The distance through which data travels greatly affects its speed on the customer’s end.  A web host with a distant physical location causes slower transfer speeds.  In addition, websites which necessitate too many requests from users’ browser will cause slow page speeds.  Luckily, there are solutions.  You can greatly increase your website’s data response by following the guidelines outlined in this article.

Networks transfer data through a series of small packets.  The distance these packets must travel causes an exponential wait time based on the location of the sender and receiver.  Most people visualize the process of information on the Internet as a flowing stream.  Rather, data is transmitted in constant small portions.  The time for information to be sent and received is called “latency.”  The size of the packet and its distance to make a “round trip” from one location to another affects the speed at which the user experiences web content.  A website with latency issues will seem slow and “bogged down” to visitors.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a process by which websites like Google rank web content.  It is perceived that a higher ranking in Google equals a better page.  What you may not know is that speed now factors into your search engine rank.  In recent years, a trend has developed of speed testing for SEO rankings.  Websites that load faster are ranked higher and are therefor visited more often.

Slow downloading and uploading can negatively affect web content in a variety of ways.  Customers expect fast and reliable web content and despise waiting.  Visitors to a website are uninterested in the technicalities that may cause slow loading and unsympathetic to a page that causes them to wait.  Pages that load slowly are considered unprofessional or suspicious.  Customers unfamiliar with your page are often unwilling to waste time waiting for content.

In addition, a faster website will always edge out competitors.  By allowing slow load times, you are essentially disregarding your customers’ valuable time, and as a consequence, will lose money.

The value of fast loading pages cannot be overemphasized.  So now that we’ve established this, what can be done to improve load times?

“Pinging” a server is a simple but useful way of determining the distance of a transmission between locations.  It also relays the amount of time the transmission took to make a round trip.  A ping test will effectively tell you how long it takes to send and receive information to your website.  Once you’ve received this information, it’s time to consider improving speed.

If possible, you should always select a hosting company whose data center is located near you.  Simply by doing this, you will dramatically increase server response times.  A test conducted by InMotion Hosting confirmed this by testing response times between national testing centers. The test unequivocally proved that testing locations with a distant geographical location had slower response times.

Another way to improve load time is to ensure that your website is optimized for compatibility with the newest version of popular web browsers. Make sure that your site is compatible with IE 9 and regularly updated to maintain compatibility. Placing a META tag in each page will cure compatibility issues and increase data transfer speeds.

File size issues are also a regular culprit when slow load times are an issue. Browsers begin by loading websites from the page file. This is generally a quick and simple operation. After this is accomplished, the browser loads additional information such as images, CSS files, Java, music and videos. When a browser is forced to deal with multiple requests from a page, there will be a potential lag time before all of the information is uploaded. Most browsers have a file limit meant to prevent simultaneous concurrent uploads from a single domain. This means that in order to increase the speed of your site, you will need to the number of requests that are taxing a visiting user’s browser.

Does this mean you have to limit the amount of “stuff” on your website? Fortunately, no. There are a variety of solutions that can be implemented which will increase your websites speed.

One way to achieve this is to combine the various files associated with your site. File compressing software can be used to combine CSS and JavaScript files into individual files. This will allow the browser to quickly recognize and distribute content without becoming bogged down with multiple requests.  Dojo ShrinkSafe, JSMin, YUI Compressor and Google Closure Compiler are some examples of available file compressors.

Dojo ShrinkSafe


YUI Compressor

Google Closure Compiler

By using CSS sprites, you can create one large image file in which an unlimited number of smaller files are contained.  This increases speed because the browser obtains pieces of one large image throughout the site rather than many small images.

A CDN (content delivery network) is another effective way of reducing wait times for uploads.  CDNs help to distribute content to a user from a geographically local source.  A CDN has data copied and placed in various nodes worldwide.  By connecting to local servers, the information is relayed quicker.  This allows data to be cached from a nearby location, thereby eliminating geographically based lag times.

By relegating traffic to multiple servers, a CDN prevents traffic overloads and related crashes.  A CDN is also capable of obtaining content from geographically fixed locations.  This is a great progression over traditional shared servers, which cause competition between various companies over the same server.  The end result is that the user will access your page more quickly with less hassle.  In addition, a CDN can be easily masked to prevent visitors from realizing that the content may be coming from multiple locations.

By utilizing the aforementioned solutions, you can drastically speed up data transfers from your web page.  Your customers will appreciate the speed of your website, and you will be prepared to handle the higher levels of web traffic that you will now receive.