Internet Marketing Tips, Suggestions, & Ramblings

We reduced our page load time by 8 seconds. Here’s how we did it.

At the beginning of October, SEO Inc. saw some drastic fluctuations in our page speed. To fix this, we implemented a number of changes that reduced our page load time dramatically. Just a FYI all of our SEO Services include page speed optimization.

This graph shows the load time for one of our pages, before and after the changes we made on October 11th:

SEO Inc. recently reduced the page load time of a key page from 8 seconds to under 2.

As you can see from the graph, the improved results came instantly.

Everyone knows the page speed of a webpage can make or break a user. No one’s going to wait longer than 3 seconds for a page to load. We knew a page load time that sometimes went into an appalling 10-second range was unacceptable, so we resolved to fix it.

This is how we did it in 2 easy steps.

#1. We upgraded to PHP 7.

Over 80% of all websites use PHP as their programming language. Of these sites, over 97% are using some version of PHP 5. Although PHP 5 originally released over ten years ago in 2006, it has had a multitude of updates that have allowed it to remain in use.

Now, we know you’ve gotten rather attached to your trusty ‘ol PHP 5. Why change a good thing? After all, PHP 5 is plenty fast. PHP versions 5.5.0 and up have been able to take advantage of ZendOP Cache, a PHP accelerator that improves overall performance. But consider what you have to gain if you upgrade to PHP 7, like we did:

  • Faster Code Execution Time
  • Lower Memory Consumption

PHP 7 uses Zend Engine 3, the latest version of the open source scripting engine used for PHP 4 and 5. Zend Engine 3 allows PHP 7 to boast a 200% faster code execution time and a 50% lower memory consumption rate.

Although PHP 7 is still relatively new, we’ve seen its benefits firsthand. We highly suggest upgrading to experience them for yourself.

Note: Before upgrading to PHP 7, run your site through a Testing environment. The reason for this is to watch for any errors that may come up. You want your upgrade to go smoothly; if you move forward without fixing the problems, you could be in big trouble later.

Upgrading your PHP and setting up Varnish Cache could dramatically improve your page load time performance.

#2. We used Varnish to improve speed and performance.

Q: What does Wikipedia, Facebook, and SEO Inc. have in common?

A: They all use Varnish Cache.

Varnish Cache does just what its name implies—it caches a web page the first time a user visits, then serves up the cached version for future requests. Varnish saves valuable time for users while reducing the necessary server resources on your end. It’s a win-win for all involved, improving the user experience and site performance.

In summary, Varnish helps your site with the following:

  • Speeds up website by 1000%
  • Reduces backend server load by up to 89%
  • Protects against server failures
  • Handles unlimited simultaneous visitors

Although it’s great for websites with lots of dynamic content, Varnish can serve any website that needs high speed and high performance. Sites that need to support a wide range of visitors and requests will also benefit from Varnish.

Note: Varnish has a few exceptions to what it can cache, such as cookies.

Get the Benefits of a Fast Page Load Time

Since upgrading to PHP 7 and setting up Varnish, our page load times have been more consistent. Instead of 8 seconds of loading, the pages we tested now have been lowered to under 2 seconds.

We should all strive for faster page speed. Page speed is one of Google’s ranking factors, which means it matters more to your site’s success than simply improving user experience. Page speed has substantial benefits for your website:

  • Higher rankings
  • Increased conversion rate
  • Higher ROI
  • Benefits your PPC Management campaigns and mobile load times

Are you getting the benefits you deserve? If not, you may need to work on your page load time. PHP 7 and Varnish Cache are just two of the latest ways to speed up, and we at SEO Inc. can help you implement them flawlessly.

Let us take a look at your site and see if they’re right for you.

About Eric Seal

Eric SealEric has written copy for hundreds of blog posts, press releases, and website pages across a wide range of industries, from upscale luggage vendors and industrial warehouse equipment to luxury international hotels. His ability to write engaging content while maintaining a client’s brand and voice has made him a valuable member of the SEO Inc. team. Eric holds a BA in Literature and Writing from Cal State University San Marcos.