The Need for Speedy Servers

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Startup concept with rocket flying out of laptop screen on grey background. 3D Rendering

The very nature of the two terms ‘want’ and ‘need’ make very clear that there’s a big difference between the 2 of them. The majority of the time we will want something, but it’s hard to rationalize saying that we truly need it.

There are exceptions to this of course, and considering we’re going to be talking about speed here this week we’ll go with an automotive analogy. Many car enthusiasts – and guys in particular – would like to have a sports car with a powerful V8 engine under the hood and performance suspension tuning, but in reality their Toyota Corolla suffices for their day-to-day driving habits. Take a highway patrol officer, however, and having a vehicle that’s got plenty of acceleration and top-end speed at its disposal is every bit a necessity.

Nearly every Canadian web hosting provider is going to make a point of offering speedy web hosting servers available to their customers these days, and fact is that’s a reflection of a demand based much more in need than it is in want.

If your website serves as the primary contact point for e-commerce aims, then slow-loading websites and ones that are sluggish to respond may well be taking a big chunk out of your sales and revenue. Sales and conversions come from the combination of effective content with faster loading speed of your website, and you had better believe that prospective customers are as impatient as ever.
For years now, surveys have showed that loading speed of websites has a great impact on their traffic trends. So how is yours measuring up, and is it being hindered by slow servers?

Revenues taking a hit?

‘Bounce rates’ are a statistical reflection of visitors who choose to leave your site prematurely. A number of studies have proven that the average visitors will leave your website if it does not become accessible in 3 to 6 seconds. We could go into detail here, but really there’s no need – once they’ve bounced, they’re likely not coming back, much less making a purchase of any sort.
Here’s a relevant example. Shopzilla generated 12% more revenue by simply improving their website speed from 6 seconds to 1.2 seconds. That’s a significant jump, and shows that even a matter of seconds in website response time can make a big difference.

Similarly, other findings over the last few years seem to indicate that you can improve your conversion rate by up to 2% for every second you up your website speed. Of course, that will vary and be dependent based on the nature of your business and type of products, services – but the appeal of that statistic should be very genuine and something you want to keep in mind.

Ballpark Figures for ‘Fast Enough’

The ideal loading time of a website is under 3 seconds. If your website becomes visible in 5 seconds, you’re doing well. If it is under 10 seconds, it’s acceptable – at best. If your website exceeds 10 seconds, however, there’s no debating it’s going to be detrimental for you.
There are several performance metric tools available to report the performance of your website speed along with web page improvement suggestions. You can optimize the structure of your code to get faster responses, but for starters you need to be with a web host that has servers which pack the vroom-vroom you need.

Server speed may be an issue if your website is located on one of the more inexpensive shared hosting packages. The architecture of your web pages and the presence of more dynamic multimedia content (video etc) can be big factors in the need for more speed from servers. If you have a business website, mobile application or a professional service website, VPS (virtual private server) hosting is one option to get you the speed you need.

Dedicated servers also offer the benefit of:

  • Loading faster
  • Being able to handle traffic spikes
  • Offering better security

So we’ll conclude this week, by stating emphatically that here at 4GoodHosting we know that search engines out there incorporate page load timing in their search ranking factors and they, in part, give you back ranking points, traffic and sales. Our servers and solid-state drives are as fast as you’ll find – period – and we’re constantly testing them to make sure they stay that way.

Tweaks to Speed up Your Website – Part II

Reading Time: 7 minutes


As a website owner, the impact of your website speed on traffic, conversions and revenue should not be underestimated. A report by Akaimi found that 46% of people on the internet expect a wesbite’s pages to load in less than 2 seconds and 40% of people will abandon a web page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.

Many other studies have been published on the impact of website speed, another study found that a 1 second delay in site loading time resulted in a 6% conversion decrease, and 12% decrease in page views and a 15% decrease in customer satisfaction. As you might already know Google uses website speed as a ranking factor.

So, having a slow loading website will negatively impact the following:

  • Brand image and perception in the mind of your visitors
  • Traffic & page views
  • Conversions
  • Sales

Before you start optimizing your website to load faster, there are two things you should consider:

First, go and check your current website load-time via Pingdom or Google PageSpeed Insights. This helps you to compare the speed increases once you have tweaked your site.

Secondly, make sure to back-up your site as some of the methods require tweaking/editing files that can mess up your site. Here’s how to back up WordPress website and here’s how to backup any other…

Here are the tweaks, in no particular order. Just pick ones that you think can be easily performed first.

1) Remove Unnecessary Plugins & Add-ons

Unnecessary plugins and add-ons can reduce your website speed by A LOT, and it’s especially important to pay attention to them if you use blogging CMSs like WordPress or Drupal.

For reference, you might be able to increase your page load times for 4 second to 1.5 seconds.

It’s very important to note that it’s not just about the number of plugins you have installed on your website but about the quality as well. A website with 50 plugins can load much faster than a website with 10 plugins if the website with fewer plugins have crappy plugins. Generally, you want to avoid plugins that load a lot of scripts and styles, plugins that perform lots of remote requests and plugins that add extra database queries to every page on your website.

Indeed, plugins help enhance your website’s functionality but it is also important to only use a plugin if you’re convinced that it is absolutely necessary.

If you’re a WordPress user, you might want to install the P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler);

This plugin will scan all of your WordPress plugins to find the bottlenecks, and give you a report so that you can see how each plugin affects your website performance.

2) Significantly Limit (or Remove) Social Sharing Buttons on Your Website

If you believe that you need to have 100 social sharing buttons on your website, think again. It’s hard to pinpoint research that establishes a massive boost in website traffic due to having social sharing buttons (if anything, too many social sharing buttons will confuse your readers), but research shows that a slow website does reduce traffic.

Most social sharing buttons use JavaScript, and this can be very troublesome when it comes to performance; social media site, outages significantly impacts the website speed of people who have installed their share buttons.

The solution is to either limit/remove social sharing buttons, or to configure them to load asynchronously so that an outage of a particular social media site won’t slow down your website.

3) Enable Expires Headers

There are several factors that influence how fast a website is, but the server response time contributes a great deal to site speed; the more requests are being made to your server, the slower it’ll take your website to load.

Expires Headers tell your visitor’s browser when to request certain files from your server vs. from their browser cache; if an Expires Headers is configured so that your visitor’s browser only request a file once in a month, and that file has been stored in their cache from a recent visit, then their browser won’t request that file again until a month is over. This is like a double-edged sword for boosting site speed because it limits the number of HTTP requests on your server and at the same time reduces load on your server since the same file won’t be requested repeatedly.

If you want to implement Expires Headers on your website, this GTmetrix tutorial shows you how.

4) Enable HTTP Keep-Alive

Usually, when a visitor’s web browser tries to request a file from your web server, it will grab each file individually; in other words, a connection closes when a file has been grabbed, and then reopens to request a new file. This uses more processor, network and memory and eventually leads to a slower website if there’s a lot of load on your server. Enabling HTTP keep-alive ensures that all file requests to your server will be made via a single open connection, leading to a much faster website for your users by limiting the number of connections to your server.

You can enable keep-alive by copying and pasting the code below into your .htaccess file:

Header set Connection keep-alive

Alternatively, you can follow the instructions here or here depending on your server.