One of the most important things website owners need to do to ensure their website generates as much revenue as possible is to make sure that pages load quickly. There are a number of things that can be done to increase page load times. Using a dedicated IP address reduces the amount of processing time needed to resolve a website name with a physical website location.
Before we look in more detail at ways to improve page load times, it is worth mentioning that you need to test your website using a variety of connections. While there is little point in optimizing your website to load quickly for people using dial-up modems, it is wrong to assume that everybody has a really fast Internet connection.
While fiber optic connections are growing in popularity and in availability, it will be some time before they overtake ADSL connections as the primary means of connecting to the Internet, so you should set your target page load speeds to perform well on ADSL connections. A secondary benefit of targeting your page load speeds for ADS connections is that this will also be a good fit for people connecting via mobile devices. The number of people who use mobile devices to connect to websites is growing astronomically, and this important sector should not be overlooked by website owners.
How a dedicated IP address helps
All web hosts have their own individual IP address. This is a number that under Internet Protocol version 4 consists of 4 groups of up to three decimal digits each, and the point is rapidly being reached where that does not allow enough combinations to enable the allocation of unique IP addresses to every host.
Under the newer Internet Protocol version 6, the identifying number can be made up of eight groups of 4 hexadecimal digits, more than enough to provide for new website registrations into the future.
DNS – Domain Name System
While these numbers are at the heart of resolving where the data that makes up a website is located, they are impractical for use as website names. To address this problem, the Domain Name System (DNS) was established. The DNS is a network of servers that maintains a database of all website names and their IP addresses.
When you type a website name into a browser address bar, or click on a text link to a website, the browser initially passes the website name to a DNS server, and the server instigates a search for that name. That search may involve other DNS servers. When the correct entry is found, the DNS passes the IP address back to the browser.
All of this happens very quickly, but it takes some time. It takes even more time to track down a website on a shared server, because there is one additional step that has to take place in that scenario.
When a website’s IP address points to a server that is hosting many different websites, the server software has to parse the request to work out which website is being sought.
Website owners can speed things up a little by having a dedicated IP address. When a website is identified by its own dedicated IP address, the server does not have to do any parsing when the request arrives, so the pages are served up more quickly.
Having a dedicated IP address and using dedicated hosting will almost always resolve page load speed problems, but sometimes the poor performance is related to the way the website has been built. Most interactive websites need a database to store and retrieve information. Badly designed databases can cause a significant slowing down of page load times.
As an example, consider a table that has 500,000 records containing names and addresses. The addresses are divided into building, street, town1, town2, state, Zip code. Due to demand, you add an option to your web pages to let surfers look for all people who live in a particular town or city. Because this particular search was not a requirement at the time the database was created, the town1 and town2 columns were not indexed.
Now, every time somebody performs a search, all 500,000 records have to be processed. This is extremely inefficient, and adds a huge overhead to the results page load time. Even with a dedicated IP address, this is the type of performance-damaging error that can creep into your website, so you need to make sure that your have procedures in place to stop this from happening, or to rectify this type of problem as soon as possible.
Large page size
If you notice that some or all of your web pages are slow to load, the first thing you should do is calculate the total amount of data being downloaded with the page. This is more complicated than just looking at the file size of the HTML page. You also need to include the sizes of all external files, such as CSS or image files, to see how much data is being downloaded. If this figure is large, you need to find ways to reduce it.
Images are great for improving the visual appeal of your website, but they can also be very large files. The higher the resolution, the bigger the image file. If you use many high resolution images on a page, that will have a serious impact on your page load times.
If having high resolution images available to your visitors is important, consider redesigning your website to accommodate each high resolution image on its own page. Show a lower resolution version of the image on the main page, and give your visitors the option to click on images to see high resolution versions.
You do not need to spend large amounts of money or learn image manipulation to do this kind of optimization. Open source programs like Gimp are free, and you can use them to resize images. Another free tool is TinyPNG. This uses a drag and drop interface, and processes images up to 5mb in size. Huge compression is possible with no discernible loss of quality.
Other speed issues
One of the principal causes of page load delays is peak demand on server resources.
This most often becomes apparent to website owners who use shared hosting packages. While shared hosting works fine for most websites that do not place too much of a strain on server resources, it is likely to be the root cause of degraded performance. Website owners who become aware of slower page load times should seriously consider upgrading to dedicated hosting services. This is the only thing that will improve page load times if poor performance is not down to things like bad backend design or downloading large amounts of data.
It is no exaggeration to say that every second counts when it comes to speeding up your page load times. Surfers will tend to navigate away rather than wait several seconds for pages to load. Having a dedicated IP address speeds up the lookup time. Check your database design for backend inefficiencies. Use tools to reduce image sizes. At webdevel.com, we offer customers several different dedicated hosting options, so you can choose the one that will load your web pages at maximum speed. Contact us for more details.