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When you choose a web host, you expect them to house your website safely, prevent cyber thieves from getting in, keep it available to the public, and make sure everything runs smoothly on the backend.
But if you really want to optimize your website and take it from okay to good (or from good to great), here are 7 little changes that’ll make a big difference with your website hosting.
These are up to YOU and not your web host, but implementing them can streamline your site and take strain off your host, freeing them up to provide better service. It’s a win-win situation!
1. Optimize Images and Media
There’s a reason athletes wear as little clothing as possible when competing—it makes them lighter, faster, and more streamlined. The same concept goes for your website! If it’s cluttered and weighed down with unnecessary data, it’s going to be slower and more clunky.
Big images that aren’t optimized for the web will almost definitely slow down your website’s loading speed. And a slow loading speed is the #1 thing that chases away visitors, so this is something you really need to avoid.
It’s way easier than you think to optimize images. Just run them through an image compression tool like TinyJPG and they’ll be reduced to a perfectly usable file size that doesn’t take up a ton of space.
Video takes up a LOT of space. The best way to optimize this is to host your videos on an external platform—like YouTube or Vimeo—and embedding links to the videos into your web pages instead of uploading video to your website.
2. Prioritize Above-the-Fold Content
Once your images are optimized, implement above-the-fold loading. This means the pictures up top load first and the lower-down ones load a little slower, so the part of the page your visitors see first will be fully loaded in a flash.
Don’t underestimate this small but useful step—almost half of your visitors will jump ship if the site hasn’t loaded within 3 seconds!
3. Minify and Combine Resources
You might be surprised at how much space extra bits of code takes up. Minifying your website’s resources is a way of compressing them all together and getting rid of excess bits and pieces, which can make a big difference to how streamlined your site is.
4. Leverage Browser Caching
Browser caching is a simple but useful concept. When activated (which you definitely should do), it stores duplicates of your website files in the user’s browser when they land on your website. When they come back to your site later, it loads faster because it doesn’t have to get resources all the way from the server—it’s just pulled straight from their own browser’s stored information.
This makes a huge difference to loading times, which means your visitors tend to stick around for longer without getting frustrated and leaving. We highly recommend doing a bit of research on how to set this up and implementing it ASAP!
5. Reduce Redirects and Optimize for Mobile
Rerouting certain URLs to other URLs is like sending your visitors on a detour when they’re already impatient… It just slows everything down and adds to the annoyance.
Do your best to get rid of them where you can, and you’ll notice a positive difference in your site’s speed and performance. Some redirects may be necessary, but you might be surprised at how many of them are simply done out of convenience… And then proceed to make your website sluggish.
As well as getting rid of redirects wherever you can, make sure your site is optimized for mobile use. This is non-negotiable—more than half of web traffic comes from mobile phones. Plus, Google gives you extra points for mobile-friendliness, so get it done!
6. Keep Your Website’s Software Up to Date
But not all of them will update your WordPress or other website software, and this can easily fall by the wayside if you aren’t paying attention. If you’re using a WordPress-specific web host, like WP Engine, or if you’re on a WordPress-specific hosting plan, they should cover you for software updates, but it’s definitely something you need to check beforehand.
Out-of-date software can slow your site down by almost 50%! As well as keeping the software up-to-date, make sure other bits and pieces like plugins and themes are also using the latest available versions.
7. Optimize Your Database
If your website has been around for a little while, chances are it’s accumulated some digital clutter. Spring-cleaning your database can free up some of that space and improve your site’s loading speed.
We recommend doing a bit of a clean-up at least once a quarter. If you’ve never done it before, expect to spend quite a bit of time on it. But once you’ve cleaned up, every spring-clean thereafter will be a whole lot quicker and easier.
Get rid of old blog post drafts, delete spam comments, remove pictures in the library that haven’t been used, and make sure there’s no unnecessary stuff taking up space.
Little changes can make a big difference. The only thing on this list that might take a long time is cleaning up your databases, but everything else should take just a few minutes, and you best believe that those few minutes will help your website more than you can imagine.
Make these chances and see how your web hosting improves. You should see an uptick in web page loading speed, a reduction in bounce rate, and an overall improvement in performance.
About the Author
Paul Wheeler runs a web design agency that helps small businesses optimize their websites for business success. He aims to educate business owners on all things website-related, at his own website, Reviews for Website Hosting.