Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Speedier Page Load Times Mean Better/Faster/Stronger Blogs for our Clients
For a little over a year now, Google has been very public about how it factors in the speed that a page loads when determining search rankings
. Their rationale makes a lot of sense. The faster a page finishes loading in your browser, the greater likelihood that your experience will be a pleasant one.
The Engineering Team at Compendium takes this metric very seriously. We've adopted widely recognized best practices for achieving better website performance
To stay on top of emerging issues, we employ third-party monitoring services that track our initial response time as well as full-page load times at locations around the world. Within a minute's notice, we know if our server isn't responding to requests. We can also see where and when our customer's user experience may not be as good as it should be.
Still, even if you go by the book and follow through with every guideline, suggestion, and recommendation, you'll find your system starting to drag in places. Because every web application is different, there's no silver bullet, and diagnosis can require a pretty deep knowledge of the system.
We go one step further by monitoring internal vital signs as well, such as slow database queries and excessive server loads. These metrics proved helpful recently as we started to see some slowdowns in page load times of our clients' blogs.
Investigation turned up a number of database queries that were bogging things down. Some of the queries were being issued too frequently by background processes, so dialing them down helped.
Another type of query had crossed a criticial threshold wherein the full data set couldn't be handled in memory and so it was requiring disk access, which is way slower. A combination of smarter result-caching, upgrading the database server software, and changing the disk configuration resulted in a huge boost in performance.
The end result? We were able to slash off response times by 90 percent for our worst-performing pages. Clients began to see an uptick in their crawl rates at Google Webmaster Tools, which is definitely a good thing.
Yes, you could self-host your business blog using free software. But the costs of the software and the hosting are just the beginning. Those extras that give you better page load times, like CDN-hosted assets, tuned database queries, and caching, don't come cheaply. The mixture of services and skilled workforce can cost you several thousands of dollars. Combine that with redundancy for higher availability, and it becomes clear why Compendium is a wise choise.