How to Achieve a Faster Website With GZIP Compression

Want to achieve a faster website Look no further than GZIP compression It's by far the most popular solution for compressing website files According to W3Techs, GZIP compression is used by over 55 percent of all websites Enabling GZIP compression …

Want to achieve a faster website? Look no further than GZIP compression. It’s by far the most popular solution for compressing website files. According to W3Techs, GZIP compression is used by over 55 percent of all websites. Enabling GZIP compression will allow you to jump on the bandwagon and achieve a faster website.

What Is GZIP Compression?

What Is GZIP Compression?

Developed by the GNU Project in the early 1990s, GZIP compression is a software application, as well as a file format, consisting of a lossless compression algorithm. It’s designed to reduce the size of files transferred over the internet.

When enabled on your website, GZIP will compress your site’s files before they are sent to visitors. The software application will apply an algorithm that makes the files smaller. Visitors’ web browsers will decompress the files in real time as they are being downloaded. The data from these decompressed files will then be used to render the page.

How GZIP Works to Reduce Load Times

Load times are determined by the time it takes visitors to download your website’s files. Web browsers can only render a page after downloading all of the necessary files. Most website pages, of course, don’t consist of a single file; they consist of multiple files.

There are Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) files, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) files, JavaScript files, Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) files, font files and media files. While all pages have an HTML file, most of them contain several other types of files as well. GZIP compression works to reduce load times by making some or all these files smaller.

How GZIP Works to Reduce Load Times?

When applied to a file, GZIP compression will shrink it while simultaneously storing the newly compressed file in a different format. It leverages a lossless compression algorithm. Lossless compression algorithms are defined by their ability to retain all of the original data upon file decompression. They don’t make files smaller by deleting data. Rather, lossless compression algorithms rewrite the data in a faster and more efficient manner. The data will remain intact when the file is compressed and decompressed.

GZIP compression can reduce the size of files by up to 90 percent. You can specify which types of files you want it to compress. GZIP compression works best for text-based files like HTML, CSS, JavaScript and PHP files. Media files are typically already compressed, so GZIP compression has less of an impact on their size. Regardless, GZIP compression can help you achieve a faster website by reducing the size of your site’s files.

The SEO Benefits of GZIP Compression

The SEO Benefits of GZIP Compression

GZIP compression offers benefits for search engine optimization (SEO). Load times affect organic rankings. By enabling GZIP compression, your website will become faster. Visitors will be able to load it more quickly, which may compel search engines to lift your website’s organic rankings.

Google even recommends enabling GZIP compression. On its PageSpeed Insights portal, Google says that GZIP compression can significantly reduce the length of time needed to download files from websites.

While Google doesn’t cite GZIP compression as a ranking factor, it has stated in the past that load times directly affect organic rankings. Fast websites are more enjoyable for visitors than slow sites. If you enable GZIP compression, you’ll achieve a faster website, which is preferred by visitors and search engines.

Steps to Enable GZIP Compression

There are several ways you can enable GZIP compression. If your website has a content management system (CMS), you can probably download a plugin or app to enable it. Many of the top CMSs support GZIP compression plugins or apps.

You can also enable GZIP compression manually by configuring your website’s server. For an Apache server, you can perform the necessary configurations in the .htaccess file. You can either open and edit your server’s existing .htaccess file, or you can create a new .htaccess file if there’s not one currently present.

With the .htaccess file open, you’ll need to add the GZIP compression code to it (remove the ###):

<###IfModule mod_deflate.c>
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE image/x-icon
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE image/svg+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-truetype
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-ttf
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-otf
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-opentype
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/vnd.ms-fontobject
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE font/ttf
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE font/otf
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE font/opentype
<###/IfModule>

When pasting the code, use caution not to delete any existing code in the .htaccess file. You should simply add the GZIP compression code to new lines.

It’s recommended that you back up this file before configuring it. Creating a backup copy will allow you to revert the configuration changes if something goes wrong. If your website fails to load after configuring your server, you can restore the .htaccess backup file.

How do you know if GZIP compression is enabled on your website exactly? Checking your website’s load times before and after should reveal whether it was successfully enabled. It can often shave several seconds off a typical page’s load times. If used a plugin or configured the .htaccess file but didn’t notice a difference in load times, GZIP compression may not be enabled.

You can run your website through a GZIP compression testing tool. The GZIP compression testing tool at giftofspeed.com/gzip-test will reveal whether this compression technology is enabled on your website. If enabled, it will also reveal the original size and the compressed size of the page’s files. Therefore, you can see how much smaller GZIP compression is making your website’s files.

GZIP compression offers a simple and effective way to reduce load times. Consisting of a lossless compression algorithm, it will reduce the size of your website’s files without sacrificing any original data. You can use GZIP compression to create smaller files that are delivered to visitors with lightning-fast speed.

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