How Does VPS Hosting Impact Page Speed?

Surveys tell us that the majority of internet users say they are less likely to visit a website if it does not load quickly.

This alone tells us that yes, pagespeed really does matter – and it’s why it’s vital that your business has a website that loads fast enough to meet the expectation of your users.

1.1 Does Page Speed Really Matter?

An impressive pagespeed helps keep your user engaged, encourages them to explore the site and interact with your content. Without it, you risk higher page drop-off and lower conversion rates.

Surveys On User Experience & Behaviour

There have been numerous studies conducted on page load speed and they all clearly indicate that a slow website can significantly and negatively impact on the user experience, which from a business perspective can prove costly.

For instance, surveys conducted by Akamai.com and Gomez.com show that 47%of consumers wait no longer than two seconds for a webpage to load, and if the website doesn’t load within three seconds they leave the site altogether.

Similarly, according to data presented by AOL, page load speed impacts pageviews per visit by up to a staggering 50%. Another study has found that 79% of online shoppers who have experienced performance issues on a website say they are less likely to return to that site again, with 44% of them saying they would tell a friend about their poor user experience.

With that in mind, we took a look at how the speed of your website can affect sales in your online store.

eCommerce website Shopzilla achieved an impressive 25% increase in pageviews and generated between 7% and 12% more revenue by improving their website loading time from ~7 seconds to ~2 seconds. These figures very much align with research by Gomez.com and Akamai.com who say that for an eCommerce store making $100,000 per day a page delay of just one second could potentially cost $2.5 million in lost sales every year. That same one second delay in page response can result in up to a 7% reduction in conversions.

Page Speed As Search Engine Ranking Factor

When it comes to search engine optimization, we immediately think of using keywords within our web content or generating backlinks to our website, but the one thing we often overlook is the importance of page speed in SEO rankings. In the words of Google:

“Speeding up websites is important – not just to site owners, but to all Internet users. Faster sites create happy users and we’ve seen in our internal studies that when a site responds slowly, visitors spend less time there.”

In support of this statement, Google has since updated Google Analytics to include additional statistics tools such as Page Load Time, Lookup and Page Size in a bid to enable the webmaster to fully analyse their website’s performance and to begin to develop strategies and actions to improve their page load times.

Of course, not every website that achieves an optimal page load speed will rank number one in search engine results; there are lots of other influencing factors to consider – this is, essentially, just one piece of the jigsaw. What we can say with confidence is that a fast loading website will have distinct advantages over competitor websites who aren’t yet up to speed.

1.2 Test Your Page Speed

Testing your page speed is a good idea and we’re here to show you how. We suggest using a widely used online tool from Pingdom.

Simply got to tools.pingdom.com, enter your website address, select your location from the drop-down menu and press ‘Start Test’. Pingdom will do the rest.

After they have analysed your website Pingdom will provide you with a pagespeed score along with some useful insights. Take a look at our example below:

pingdom

You’ll also get a comprehensive report with line-by-line instructions to fix each of the elements that are slowing your website down. Depending on the complexity of the suggested fixes you may want to get in touch with your website developer to help you implement the necessary changes.

pingdom

1.3 Best Practice To Improve Page Loading Speed

We know that a good page load speed is crucial to customer retention and conversion rates, and now you’ve determined your page load speed there’s no better time to jump into action and improve it. Here are some of the steps we recommend you take to enhance your website speed.

1. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Using a CDN service is one of the most popular ways to reduce page load times. It does this by sending a cached version of your webpage content to a geographically distributed network of servers called Points of Presence, or POPs for short.

By doing this the virtual distance between servers is reduced, meaning content is delivered and loaded onto the page more quickly – and because your web files are spread across multiple servers the CDN reduces the burden on any single server.

Essentially, the CDN puts your content in different locations at the same time, meaning your webpage visitor can access content much faster than they’d have been able to without a CDN. This not only means visitors to your page are more likely to stay on your website for longer but it also means that you will save bandwidth from your main hosting package.2zs

2. Use Expires Headers To Leverage Browser Caching

Expires headers is a snippet code defined in the .htaccess file. It instructs the browser, directing it to request a specific page from the server or grab a version of a page from the browser’s cache.

Expires headers allow users to reuse the cached files of webpages stored in the browser and reduces the time it takes to download the files. It also reduces the number of requests made to load the webpage, therefore decreasing the page load time.

Note that Expires headers will work only if your visitor already has a version of your webpage stored in their browser cache. To achieve this the user must have visited your website at least one time previously.

3. Fix All Broken Links

Broken links discourage users from visiting other pages of your website and may mean that users choose to leave your website altogether. Aside from low user retention, this can cause other issues.

For example, when users spend less time on your website search engine algorithms assume that your website doesn’t have quality content or information. This will, in turn, significantly decrease the average number of pages visited per user and negatively impact on your search engine ranking.

Remedy this by identifying and correcting your broken links. We recommend using a free tool like Google Webmaster Tools or Screaming Frog SEO Spider.

4. Specify Image Dimensions & Character Set In HTTP Headers

When a user visits a web page their browser needs to prepare the complete layout of that page, which can cause delays to page loading.

By specifying the dimensions of images on your webpages you can help save the browser time – and by saving the browser time, you save your webpage visitor time.

For the same reason, you should also specify a character set in HTTP response headers to minimize the time spent by your browser in determining the character set of your website.

5. Optimizing The Images

Oversized images always take longer to load, so it’s important that you keep your images as small as possible.

Be sure to also optimize each image before uploading to your website and if you are using graphics software to optimize the images you should use the ‘Save for Web’ option. This will reduce the size of images and improve your page load time. Remember that you should be using either JPEG or PNG image extensions – do not use BMPs or TIFFs.

WordPress users can install the WP Smush.it plugin to compress images automatically. WP Smush.it runs in the background every time you upload an image to your media library and reduces the size of images without degrading the quality.

6. Reduce 301 Redirects

To repair broken links (404 errors), 301 redirects are preferred. However, when you have too many 301 redirects on your website the browser may take longer to reach the correct destination.

301 redirects create additional HTTP requests meaning a further increase in page load time, so wherever possible keep 301 redirects to a minimum. We recommend finding your 301 redirects using the Screaming Frog SEO Spider tool.

7. Use GZIP Compression

GZIP compression and deflation reduce a file size without impairing the visual quality of images and videos, which can really help improve page load time.

Ask your web hosting provider if they have enabled the GZIP compression and deflation on their web servers. If you are using VPS hosting, you can enable it on your own.

8. Enable Browser Caching

When users visit your website for the first time, they have to download HTML content, stylesheets, JavaScript files and images before being able to see your page. When browser caching is enabled some users won’t need to load each element of the web page in subsequent visits.

Content management systems like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal have excellent cache plugins to improve page speed. These plugins reduce page load times by caching the latest version of your website, so your browser doesn’t have to dynamically generate the same page each time.

9. Put CSS At The Top & JS At The Bottom

Your browser will render a CSS file before rendering other parts of your page, so to save time you should always put CSS at the top of your page.

Similarly, put JavaScript at the bottom of your page because anything below JavaScript will be blocked from rendering and downloading until the JavaScript is loaded.

10 .Minify Your CSS & JS Files

The term minify denotes the process of removing unnecessary characters that are not required for a code to execute. The most common way to minify files is to merge all CSS and JS files into one, so you don’t have to call multiple files for each individual request.

Another way of minifying is to delete whitespace, newline character, comments and block delimiters in JS and CSS to make these files smaller.

WordPress users can simply install a plugin called WP Minify to minify the JS and CSS files.

11. Disable Hotlinking Of Images

Hotlinking or bandwidth stealing consumes your allotted bandwidth and slows down your website. To prevent hotlinking, simply add the below code to your .htaccess file and upload the file to either your root directory or a particular subdirectory to localize the effect to just one section of your site.

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://(www\.)?yourdomain.com/.*$ [NC]
RewriteRule \.(gif|jpg|js|css)$ - [F]

1.4 How Web Hosting Impacts Page Speed

If you’ve followed the above standard practice to improve your page speed and still notice a very little difference then you should check with your web hosting provider. The web hosting provider and technology you choose can have a significant impact on your page load times.

When you load a website it executes hundreds of lines of code, responds to numerous requests, and runs a number of database queries to render just one page. All of these executions have to be carried out on the web server, where your website resides. If your web server is powerful, it will serve your web page more quickly.

For example, imagine your website as a car. You can customize it by giving it an interior (code optimization) and exterior (graphics, design and front end layout) makeover to make it look great. But if your engine (hosting environment) isn’t powerful your website may not reach its full potential.

In a nutshell, website speed depends a lot on the web hosting type, web hosting company and hosting package you choose, so double check what you’ve signed up to.

1.5 To What Extent Does VPS Hosting Improve Page Load Speed?

If your website is hosted on a shared hosting account, consider upgrading to a VPS or dedicated server. VPS comes with dedicated RAM, vCPU and bandwidth allocation so your website will be running with its own set of resources. Additionally, VPS users can tweak the VPS to fine tune page load speed.

To determine how much VPS hosting improves the page load speed we conducted a page load speed test. The test was conducted on the most popular CMS, Magento, WordPress, Drupal and Joomla installations with one on a shared hosting package and another on an SSD VPS package. We found the following results:

Page Load Speed

Results highlight a noticeable time lag in page loading in the shared environment with major improvement when upgrading web hosting to VPS. VPS hosting solutions are always preferable over shared hosting for resource intensive and high traffic websites.

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2 Comments

  1. it was a very nice and informative article thanks a lot for sharing it

  2. Does VPN IP address can be get tracked if we use continuously for a long period of time

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