How We Sped Up Our Website

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Speed Up Your Site

Check out 10 tips from our tech VPs about how to improve your website performance.

Over the past several months, we at IT Business Edge have undertaken a phased project to improve our site speed which, as you may have heard, has become an even bigger deal than usual in our industry with the news -- or confirmation, depending on how you look at it -- that Google is considering site speed as a factor in the arcane matrix it uses to rank search results


Given that Google is effectively the home page of the Internet, that's a pretty big deal.


If your business operates a website, you want potential customers to find it when they search on Google and the other engines. Just as importantly, you want them to have a good experience when they do find you, in terms of performance.


The results have been good. Google webmaster tools tell us that we have gone from being pretty slow-slower than about 85 percent of sites out there-to being in about the 50th percentile of all sites when it comes to speed. Benchmarking data like this is tough because, as you may have noticed, we serve advertisements as part of our business model, and they are big, fat blocks of data that a lot of sites simply don't have to deal with. It's hard to determine exactly how we are doing in relation to our peer sites, but clearly we have made quite a bit of headway.


I had a quick chat with Troy Atwood and Steve Hardin, our vice presidents of technology and development, to learn a little more about what we did to get these results. (I've compiled several specifics in this rundown of 10 tips to speed up your own site. Be sure to check it out.) Both of our tech VPs were quick to cite two of the most notable resources on the Web for this kind of information, Steve Sounder's canonical High Performance Web Sites and the tipsheet from the Yahoo Developer Network.


Overall, I was most taken with the fact that there was no silver bullet that magically bumped our site's performance (although Troy did say moving our DNS to the cloud, so that there are referring boxes across the globe, was probably the biggest single winner on the list). Basically, the tech team dug in deep in a lot of areas, making incremental improvements in areas like page hygiene (there's always something to fix), infrastructure and even default settings on the Web servers.


Like Google's algorithm, optimizing site performance is highly complex. You just have to keep at it constantly, and the job is never done.

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