The Importance of Web Hosting Speed and Performance For Your Website
Speed is extremely important when it comes to getting eyes on your website.
Join the DZone community and get the full member experience.Join For Free
Speed Matters on the Internet
When it comes to whether visitors look at your page or not, the most significant factor is how fast your page loads.
Amazon revealed that a one-second delay could lead to $1.6 billion fewer in sales per year, while Google claims that less than a one-second delay results in eight million fewer searches per day.
What About Smaller Sites?
If your page takes four seconds to load, you’ll have lost 25% of your potential visitors (for mobile sites, you’ll lose 53% of visitors if your site takes longer than 3 seconds to load). This is assuming that people are already aware of the site and navigating to it.
What If Someone Is Expecting to Find Relevant Sites via Search Engines?
In 2018, Google began to consider page load times when ranking search engine results. This changed the speed of the internet as a whole. According to Google’s Webmaster Central Blog, this change resulted in improved speeds for over 95% of countries, as well as a 5% improvement in user-centric performance metrics (whereas no increases occurred in 2017).
It’s clear that if a website wants to remain competitive, it must be as fast as possible while still meeting the demands of visitors.
The Impact of Hosting Companies on Website Speed
There are many reasons why a page might be fast or slow, but one factor that can make or break a website’s performance is the web hosting provider itself.
With that said, why is the web hosting provider (as well as the web hosting options chosen by the site’s owner) so relevant? What are some things to keep in mind when choosing a web hosting provider that offers you excellent performance?
Availability of Dedicated Resources
Whether the website shares resources with other sites will impact its speed. Budget-conscious consumers may opt for shared hosting plans. These plans are sufficient for most users, but they do not offer the speed and performance that one can get from premium (and more expensive) VPS hosting plans and dedicated servers.
Furthermore, not all shared hosting plans are equal. Some web hosts place more websites on a single server than other hosts. This means that shared plans with Host A could potentially be much faster than the shared hosting plans offered by Host B.
Use of SSD Drives Instead of Traditional HDD Drives
Across the board, SSD drives significantly outperform HDD drives. Web hosts offering the former will help its customers deliver better performance when it comes to page load speeds. Solid-state drives (SSD) are becoming increasingly common with web hosts, especially as the cost of SSD drives fall, but budget-friendly options will still feature traditional hard disk drives.
Ease of Scalability (and Whether This Is an Option)
Typically, people think of scalability as something available only to cloud hosting customers. However, some web hosts offer easy scalability with their traditional hosting packages as well.
When purchasing a hosting package, the customer has to estimate the resource allocation handle the website’s traffic levels; however, there is always an element of uncertainty, and there are still times when traffic spikes. For example, an e-commerce site can expect a steady level of traffic most of the time...but when it comes time for sales (e.g., Memorial Day, Labor Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Week), they may need a significantly higher allocation of resources.
Such websites, when working with hosts offering easy scalability, can balance their needs for additional resources during times of peak traffic while not overpaying for web hosting during slower periods.
Ease of and Support for Caching
Caching is the process of storing parts of a website so that the visitor receives the file faster. Good candidates for caching include logos, non-rotating images such as navigation icons, and other content that doesn’t frequently change.
Your server can implement the caching of your website’s resources. This means that content can be served upon receiving the request, without requiring a subsequent call to the backend.
For many; however, the most significant impact on page loads speeds is the use of a content delivery network (CDN). CDNs work by storing your data across a network of proxy servers. Then, whenever someone requests your site, they get the files needed from the CDN server that’s closest to them. This reduces the distance the data travels, leading to a faster page load speed.
Routine Database Maintenance
Databases, especially those backing content management systems (CMS), can be a major bottleneck. When a website is small, slow queries aren’t noticeable, but as websites grow, the length of time required to retrieve requested data can rise to the point where it impacts the user’s experience with the site negatively.
This is where database maintenance comes in. Database maintenance is a series of tasks executed to help queries find what is needed as quickly as possible. Maintenance is typically a task for which the website owner is responsible, this is not always the case. Sometimes, the web hosting company takes on system administrative tasks themselves.
Page speed has always been important to users, but since 2018, Google has pushed the internet to become faster and faster. This means that sites that don’t perform well will quickly lag behind their competitors — they will lose visitors, resulting in reduced conversions.
One of the key factors influencing the speed of a website is its hosting company, and this article covers the reasons why this is the case. If you find yourself with slower-than-desired speeds, be sure to audit your web hosting provider and package.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.