How fast your pages load has a big impact on both your viewer’s experience and your search engine rankings. People tend to view fast loading websites as more professional, and search engines give faster loading sites more “points” than slow loading sites.

So how can you optimize your site to load faster? Here are a few tips.

Use Gzip Compression

Gzip compression allows you to compress HTTP data on your server and send it to the user’s browser, which will then decompress the data and display it on their side.

How much of a difference can this make? Quite a big difference. If you take a 17k HTML file and Gzip it, you’ll get a 6.8k file back. Sending the compressed file will take less than half the time of the uncompressed file.

Not every browser supports Gzip compression. Some browsers, like Internet Explorer 4, can’t handle compressed JavaScript code. That said, if you enable HTTP compression just for browsers with Gzip capability, you’ll drastically speed up your load time for a lot of your visitors.

Use Cascading Style Sheets

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) allows you to store all the stylistic elements of your website in one file. That file only needs to be downloaded once, no matter how many pages on your site any given viewer sees.

For example, let’s say someone comes to your blog ten times a month and looks at an average of two pages each time. So they’re loading a page from your site twenty times a month.

If your fonts and page styling were stored in the page, they’d have to load that every time. If you put it all in a .css file, however, they’d only need to load that once.

This will optimize your page load times as well as save you bandwidth.

Use Page Caching

Caching allows you to turn PHP (or other web app code) into HTML files for faster loading.

Let’s say you run a WordPress website. Typically, when someone comes to your site, this is what happens. First, they send a REQUEST for a file to your server. Your server then goes to its PHP engine to execute your index.php file, which will put together your index file based on all the different code in your WordPress set-up.

Once the page is put together, it’ll serve up the HTML to your end user. The browser turns the HTML into the webpage that the end user sees.

This whole process is quite processor intensive and is slow from a technical perspective.

What caching does instead is convert all your files into HTML so that it can be served up to users in HTML form without having to go through the page construction process every single time.

A smart caching engine will be able to serve up HTML files only when that’s what they’d see anyway. If what the user would see with the PHP version is different, the caching engine will go through the PHP engine instead of serving up an HTML file. Try W3 Total Cache plugin. It is recommended by many hostings and users.

These are three extremely effective ways of speeding up your page load times. Enable Gzip compression, use external CSS files and install some kind of page caching. These three combined can drastically decrease your average load time.