One of the many factors that come into where your website is going to rank on Google for its targeted keywords is your web hosting service. If you have a slow loading website, it doesn’t really matter how well optimised the rest of your on-page search engine optimisation is; you’re going to suffer when it comes to SERP’s (Search Engine Result Positions)
Google would ideally like your website to load in 3 seconds or less. Why? Because statistic show that users who have to wait longer than this for a website to load are more likely to abandon their visitor and go elsewhere. And what about those that actually make it to the first page? They are less likely to browse through your site, meaning a higher bounce rate. If you combine these two factors and don’t do anything about reducing these numbers, it’s going to hurt your rankings.
What can you do to improve website loading speeds?
There’s a variety of optimisation methods you can apply to speed up how quickly your website loads including enabling gzip compression, leveraging browser caching, minifying CSS and much more – but before you do any of that, you need to start on a decent platform; hosting matters.
If you have web hosting with providers like 1&1 or HostGator, you might be paying only circa £2 per month, but it’s not going to do you any favours. Normally big companies like this overcram these servers with hundreds of websites which is how they can afford to provide you a package so cheap, which is what causes the speed to be slow in the first place. On the other end of the spectrum you have companies like Fasthosts but they’re very expensive if you want a managed server. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to pay through the roof for a decent setup but it is worth shopping around and reading reviews of different hosting providers, as it’s going to make the world of difference when it comes to your rankings.
If you look at the screenshot below, you’ll see that even though our pagesize is on the large size (Due to having a self-hosted HD video on our homepage) our loading speed is actually quite fast. This is through a combination of website optimisation methods as well as having a decent website hosting provider.
Which Hosting Provider Offers the Best Service?
In our opinion, SiteGround offers the best web hosting packages available. We certainly wouldn’t recommend a web host which we weren’t prepared to host our own website on.
There are a lot of reasons that make SiteGround stand out from other web hosting companies though one of the biggest from a performance point has to be the fact they every package they offer has SSD storage as standard!
Conventional Hard Drives vs SSD’s
If you’ve ever used a computer for a length of time, you know that they slow down over time. This is because of how conventional mechanical hard drives work. Imagine a train track. Windows is at the very start of the drive, and thereafter are your programmes / files that you have placed/installed on the drive. When you tell the computer to load a file or programme the ‘train’ (arm, as pictured below) has to move down the track (platter) to get to the requested file. This is slow, not efficient and draws a lot of power as it’s a mechanical moving part.
What makes the situation worse is that when you delete a file from your hard drive, it doesn’t delete the file but instead just deletes the index to the file itself. This is what’s known as a dirty sector of data. If you’ve ever done a disk defrag before you would have seen the different colours as pictured below.
The red blocks are the ‘dirty blocks’ – Now imagine you tell your computer to load Word 2016 and let’s pretend Word 2016 is the purple blocks in the middle of the above picture. The train (arm) leaves the station, and has to move through clean data (the green blocks) which could be programmes or files like photos etc. The ‘dirty blocks’ (stuff that you have ‘deleted’) and will eventually arrive at its destination (the purple blocks) – This is a very slow process and only gets slower over time. Even with a defrag which will essentially put all the dirty data at the end of the drive and arrange all the clean data in ‘standalone stations’, it’s still a very inefficient slow process due to the mechanical process.
Then came along SSD’s (Solid State Drives)
A conventional hard drive is mechanical where as a Solid State Drive is non mechanical. It does the same job (loading and saving data) but in a very different way. Data on a SSD is stored on interconnected flash memory chips which have major benefits.
Think of this more like a jigsaw puzzle rather than a train track. Because there are no moving parts, any block of data can be accessed almost instantaneously. Access times are greatly decreased due to no moving parts, and even better they can access several blocks at the same time with the same minimal latency.
Benefits of an SSD:
- Much faster at reading and writing blocks of data.
- IOPS (Input/output Operations Per Second) For multi-tasking this is essential as the hard drive is normally the bottle neck in your computer. Conventional HDD’s typically feature in the range of 50-200 IOPS whereas an SSD could easily feature 50,000-100,000+ IOPS.
- Defragmentation – Unlike mechanical drives, SSD’s wont degrade meaning they won’t slow down the more you fill them up with data, unlike a conventional HDD.
Now we’ve referred to personal computing as it’s easier to understand but the same principles apply to servers where websites are stored, as after all, servers are just computers that serve a different purpose compared to personal computing. They have an operating system installed, and then on top of that they host your websites files and folders. So, having a SSD as part of your web hosting setup makes a huge difference to how quickly your website will load.
There’s a lot of other reasons to host with SiteGround including, free SSL certificates, Free daily backups, Free Cloudflare CDN, HTTP/2 enabled servers, 24/7 technical support with response times coming in at an average of 10 minutes and much more besides. Whilst they have cheaper packages, we would recommend the GoGeek package which you can currently grab with 60% off the regular price!