How to Speed up Your Joomla Website?
With speed becoming a factor in Google’s ranking algorithms, websites that want to rank well in search engines are forced to make speed-related changes to their websites. While important, better Google rankings are not the only thing Joomla website owners should be worried about. A speedy website is also crucial in visitor engagement and retention. When people want information, they want it fast, and if your page takes its time delivering that information, you’re going to lose visitors.
When it comes to website speed, Joomla websites are not famous for their speediness. This is not to say, however, that all Joomla websites are slow by default, but more often than not, you do have to do some optimization to achieve better speeds. If you’re not sure if your Joomla website’s speed is up to par with today’s website speed requirements, you can use GT-Metrix, Google Page Speed Insights, Yslow, to check this. If you find that your Joomla website is running slow, here are some tips on how to speed it up:
- Choose a good Joomla hosting
The importance of a good hosting cannot be overstated. A bad hosting is often the culprit in reducing speed, so you need to makes changes in this area. Switch from a shared hosting to a dedicated hosting or VPS, and choose a reputable Joomla hosting like SiteGround, Bluehost or GreenGeeks. A dedicated hosting equals a faster website, and a reputable hosting provider will help you achieve that extra performance you need. Although costlier than a shared hosting, investing in a dedicated hosting is worthwhile.
- Cache your website and activate Gzip
In the absence of caching, your Joomla website is at “full throttle”, meaning that every time a user visits one of your pages, Joomla will have the fetch the content from the database and load everything needed (plugins, modules, components) to make the content available for users. This is a time-consuming process, but with caching enabled, this process is simpler and more rapid in the sense that users will be delivered a stored version of all these actions.
To enable and configure caching in Joomla go to System -> Global Configuration, then go to Cache Settings, find the Cache drop-down menu and select ON-Conservative Caching, then click on the Save button in the upper left corner of your page. Finally, you have to enable the System – Cache plugin in Extensions -> Plugin Manager. Thus, your Joomla caching will be up and running!
Should you encounter problems with your dynamic pages, extensions such as JotCache and Cache Control can help you control what you cache, while the NoNumber Cache Cleaner automatically cleans up the cache.
Another thing that you should activate in your Joomla website’s Global Configuration (Server tab) is the Gzip page compression (press the Yes button to activate), which compresses your content in a zip file and sends it to the browser to be unpacked there. Gzip file compression is supported in all browsers, except for really old IE versions. Reducing the size of your website through compression will result in your pages loading much faster. If enabling the Gzip compression causes errors, it may be that mod_zip is not supported/configured on your host. For assistance, get in touch with the support team of your hosting provider.
- Image optimization and file reduction
If you use a lot of images on your website, you have to optimize them and reduce their size whenever possible. Apart from scaling images, you can also reduce their file size by using compression tools like that strip your images from unnecessary data. Tools like Smush.it will reduce the size of images by not altering their quality. When saving images in Adobe Photoshop, use Save for Web and Devices. There is a great Photoshop plugin for image optimization called Tinypng, which produces very small PNG and JPG images. The plugin is available both for Mac and Windows.
- Use a lightweight template
Using a lightweight template can increase your website’s rendering speed, and make it more responsive to user interactions both on desktop and on mobile devices. A lightweight theme should combine CSS and JS files into only a few files, thus reducing the number of HTTP requests sent by the browser to fetch those resources; some of them even give you the option to minify CSS and JS files “on the fly”. If your theme does not have these options and you don’t want to change your theme, then you can still optimize your existing theme, however, there are some limitations. If the theme was not designed from the start with speed in mind, then in some cases it might be too complicated to achieve higher PageSpeed scores. Some of the fastest Joomla themes are Peak from Yootheme and Xero from Joomlabamboo.
- Use a CDN
A content delivery network will take on the burden of serving static content, allowing your website to serve dynamic content at a much higher speed. Moreover, thanks to the globally dispersed network of servers, your visitors will be served the content from the server closest to them. The content that is served to the end user is actually a cached copy of the original static content on your website. To integrate a CDN with your Joomla website, you have to use extensions such as CDN for Joomla! or JomCDN.
In terms of the best content delivery networks, Cloudflare, AmazonCloudfront and MAX CDN should be on the top of your list when searching for a best-in-the-business CDN.
When implementing a CDN, make sure that the CDN domain is a cookie-less domain, on its own Joomla does not have a huge cookie footprint, but together with other tracking software it can be an unnecessary burden on the clients.
Once you’ve implemented these site speed optimization steps, your Joomla website should have a much better performance. Whether you want your Jooma site to be faster for SEO purposes or you’re trying to provide your visitors a better user experience and you’re focused on user retention, speeding up your website can help you achieve these goals.