7 ways to make your website load faster
Written by: Morten Malde

The speed and page load time of your website is extremely important and will affect the traffic to your website. Google distinguishes between fast and slow websites when ranking them and in cases where two websites has the same content, Google will prefer the faster one. Your websites page load time will also have a large impact on your visitors and potential customers as the bounce rate is much higher for slow than for fast websites. At PRO ISP we care about the speed and page load time for our clients websites. We therefore wish to give you some simple and easy ways to speed up your website.

Before performing any change, we recommend you test your website to see the differences before and after. Below you will find some simple tools to measure how fast your website is today:
Pingdom Tools (choose Stockholm before preforming the test).
GTMetrix (you cannot choose location without being registered).

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1. PHP version

New versions of PHP are released continuously. They have improvements that will reduce the use of resources required to run a website build in PHP.

There are several benefits when switching to a newer and higher PHP version:
– They require less resources and are more efficient.
– The website will have more capacity for more traffic and load faster.

– Active support for security. On PHP 5.6 support for security support expires 31th of December 2018. (We are running «HardenedPHP» on all our servers so older PHP versions are secure).

You can change versions as much as you please to see which one works the best for your website. It is important the code/script you are running on the website is not outdated as this can cause problems with newer PHP version.

As long as everything is updated (whether it be WordPress, Joomla or other scripts) it will be able to run on PHP 5.6, but if the websites works well in PHP 7.0 that is the best option. PHP version can easily be changed in cPanel (control panel).

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2. Compressing content

Most content can be compressed before being sent from the server to visitor. By compressing the content, it will reduce the amount to be transferred to the visitors and therefore reduce the load time for the website. This is available on all our severs and can easily be set up in the .htaccess file or by activating it in cPanel as shown in this guide.

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3. Cache

There are several types of caching. This tip is for caching the website on the server. By having caching activated on a website, data will be stored, so that new requests of the same website and content will be retrieved from the cache and not the webserver itself. This reduces load time and makes the website considerably faster.

A large number of our clients use WordPress for their websites, but this tip also applies for other scripts (such as Joomla!, Drupal og Magento).

When using WordPress you can download and install plugins. There are several different cache plugins and if your web hosting is located on a LiteSpeed server you can use the LiteSpeed cache plugin which is the fastest one when we tested.

Other plugins that work well:
WP Super Cache
W3 Total Cache
Comet Cache
Simple Cache

When you have installed and activated one of these you can adjust the settings, but for most websites no adjustments will be necessary. If you have a website with low traffic you should change TTL for caching from standard to higher (432000 for example, which is 12 hours).

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4. Keep everything updated and remove what you dont use

Often people install scripts on their web hosting and plugins within the scripts to test stuff. These are often forgotten or not being when the testing is completed. Even you have plans to maybe use them later you should remove them and rather install them when you need to use them.

Installations such as plugins, theme, extensions and modules not being used is a safety risk. The also use resources and disc space. By keeping everything updated you are better protected against hackers and other attacks. Should an update fail you can always restore from our external backup.

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5. Optimize images

Images is one of the larger elements on a website. It is therefore important that they are optimized as much as possible. Use Google PageSpeed to analyze what can be improved including having all your images optimized in a zip-file for downloading and replacing existing images.

For WordPress, there are plugins to remove excess information from images which will reduce their size and optimizes the images. By using one of the plugins mentioned below you can optimize several images already posted on your website:
WP Smush
ShortPixel Image Optimizer
Imagify Image Optimizer
TinyPNG

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6. SSL and HTTP/2

HTTP/2 is the latest version of the HTTP protocol and will improve the load time for websites considerably compared to the 1.1 version. The most popular web browsers have chosen to only support HTTP/2 over SSL (HTTPS), which means you will need to use an SSL certificate on your website to be able to use HTTP/2.

All our web hosting solutions include a free SSL certificate which covers the minimum demands for encryption and HTTP/2. You can easily install this as shown in the guide for configuration of Basis SSL. Even though this is free to install, we recommend all professional websites to purchase an SSL certificate with additional functions to increase your customers trust in your website and this way also increase conversions.

For the moment, our web hosting’s on Apache webservers do not support HTTP/2 even if you install an SSL certificate. This is because cPanel do not support it. It is expected cPanel will do something regarding this, but there is not set date for any solution. In order to use HTTP/2 you will need to have your web hosting on a LiteSpeed webserver which you can for free if you have Pro Medium or larger web hosting solution with PRO ISP.  Check if your web hosting is located on a LiteSpeed server via the client portal. Here you can also request transfer to a LiteSpeed webserver by following this guide on how to change server.

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7. Use LiteSpeed webserver

In addition to the previous section on why you should use LiteSpeed webserver, you should also know these advantages of using LiteSpeed instead of Apache:

  • Static content is delivered up to 5 times faster than Apache
  • Dynamic content is delivered up to 40 times faster than Apache
  • HTTPS 3 times faster than Apache
  • Uses less of the server’s resources which causes it requires more before CloudLinux limits are reached = it takes more before the resource usage of your website is limited
  • Supports LiteSpeed cache plugin for WordPress
  • LiteSpeed was the first commercial webserver on the market and our experience is that new functionality and improvements are constantly being developed.

Our Apache servers uses a module based on LiteSpeed (mod_lsapi). This means the differences mentioned are not as dramatical on our web hosting solutions, but they are still considerably large enough to recommend LiteSpeed instead of Apache.

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