For years, content was labeled king of website optimization. As we moved deeper into the 21st Century, there was a significant shift. While content remains king of our digital realm, the queen is none other than performance.
While website performance and reliability has always been a consideration for Google and visitors, the requirement for optimum functionality and intuitive performance has never been more important.
In fact, Google announced in early 2018 that it plans to release algorithm updates in July of this year that places far more emphasis on page speed and loading response times than ever before.
Therefore, if you wish to cultivate a successful online presence, you must not only look at your content strategy, but also your performance health. Perhaps one of the most discussed topics regarding website performance is compression. In short, compression literally minimizes the density and size of files for swifter retrieval and rendering.
While there are literally dozens of various tips and techniques involving this essential function, few are as important as GZIP. If you’re searching for a way to streamline your website and cultivate the fastest and smoothest experience for visitors, then you should start your quest toward achieving this goal with GZIP.
What Is GZIP and Why Is It Important?
Have you ever tried emailing a massive amount of files? If you were to upload and transmit each file individually, your email client would likely refuse this action due to its huge size. So, in order to send large files over the internet, you must compress these files, or ZIP them.
This concept is essentially the same when we discuss GZIP. Compression transfers files faster than non-compressed files. However, there’s a significant misconception regarding its actual impact on server performance.
While GZIP shortens the transfer rate duration, it’s impact on server performance and CPU is actually greater than uncompressed files. While this is a consideration if you have an old, outdated web server, modern servers are more than capable of handling this increase. The reason why many webmasters discuss GZIP as a performance-enhancing tool is that while it may not enhance the server-side performance, by transferring files quickly and allowing end-user browser to render on-page content faster than before, it enhances perceived performance. Ultimately, this is what matters.
The Compressed Pathway – How To GZIP
After confirming your server is capable of handling the extra demand caused by GZIP files, the time has come to actually perform this essential function. There are multiple ways to execute a GZIP. The easiest of these is to see if your web host offers a native GZIP tool within cPanel. If so, simply follow the instructions and enjoy the benefits of compression.
If not, there are two primary options. The first is to hand-code the GZIP script directly into your .htaccess file. Whenever you manipulate this code, make sure to create a backup in case of an unexpected error. The second option is to utilize an authorized third party tool or access the configuration settings if you run IIS on your server.
Afterwards, check to make sure your GZIP was successful by running your site through an online tool, such as Google Page Insights. Always review your site on multiple browsers to ensure no errors are present.