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How to Speed Up Your Joomla Website

The speed at which your site loads is very important. Firstly, a fast loading site will have your readers stick around longer. If they are served content fast, it is more tempting to click on another link to read more. Nobody wants to wait for a slow site.

Secondly, speed has become a major issue when it comes to SEO. Search engines, and particularly Google, now take the loading speed of a page into consideration when ranking the page for result pages. In particular, slow loading sites will be pushed down in the search results. The reason is that Google wants to serve its users with the most relevant content available, and in the shortest time possible. Giving people links to slow sites is not a good idea, so fast-loading sites will now appear higher in the search engine result pages.

Template optimization

The first step that you can take in speeding up your Joomla website is in using a lightweight template, or one that has been optimized already.  If you are familiar with HTML and CSS then you can delve into the template code and optimize it yourself by removing unneeded comments, optimizing CSS etc. However most users don't know (or don't want to know) how to perform this type of optimization, which is why it is important to try to get the best looking template you can that has been optimized for speed.  Trying out different templates and testing which ones download quicker is a good start, but you can install browser extensions such as Page Speed or YSlow that can help analyze this for you.

Optimize your graphics

When creating graphics for your web pages, whether they be photos or images of any kind it is very important to try to reduce the file sizes of these images as much as possible, without compromising too much on quality.  However in the event that you have already created many images for your website already, or don't know how to go about optimizing photos, images or even the images that are built in to your websites template, there is a free and easy to use tool that can make this job a simple one.

Enter Smushit! - Smushit is a web application from Yahoo that helps you easily optimize graphics for the web, the optimization resulting in images that look identical but are infact significantly smaller in file size, resulting in faster page speeds once you have replaced your images with 'smushed' versions.  Smushit optimizes images in one of two ways:  

Uploading - You can click the 'Uploading' tab and choose to select the files to 'smush', which is Yahoo's way of saying 'Optimize' basically.  You can select multiple graphics to upload and optimize and see the progress happening quite quickly.  Once complete you can then download all of the images in a pack where you can then upload them to your website, overwriting the images that exist already.

URL - The URL feature allows you to type in one or more URL's which once done and you click on 'Smush' the Smushit application will visit your URL's in the background, downloading all images it can see, optimizing them and then giving you the option to download them to your computer, where you can simply upload them back to your website (although you need an FTP program for this) overwriting the existing images with these new optimized versions.

A handy tool, and certainly one that will help significantly improve page speeds.

Optimize your database

Just as your computer hard drive can get fragmented from time to time, with all of the adding and removing, moving and what not of files and folders, so can your Joomla database become fragmented and generally in need of a little optimization.  Optimizing your database may have a negligable effect on the page speeds, but it is still an enhancement that should be made none the less, and if you have a website that gets high numbers of page views, all of these millisecond time savings per page load can go a long way to saving bandwidth when you add them all up.

The easiest way to optimize your database is by using the free Akeeba Admin Tools extension for Joomla.  This extension installs just like any other extension (see our guide on how to install Joomla extensions for full details).  Once you have installed Akeeba Admin Tools, open the Akeeba Admin Tools control panel by clicking on 'Components > Admin Tools' in your Joomla administrator panel.  Look for the 'Repair & Optimize Tables' button to perform a quick, one-click optimization of your Joomla database.  

Something you can run from time to time and certainly a recommended tip for helping improving the speed of your website.

Use a Content Delivery Network

A Content Delivery Network is a network of computers that contain a copy of data, spread out around the world so as to maximize bandwidth for visitors accessing this data.  By using a Content Delivery Network to spread your website's data you can avoid congestion or other bandwidth limitations that are typical when using only one server and thus greatly improve website speeds.  Content Delivery Networks also serve content from a server that is closest to the visitor, rather than one server which serves everybody, regardless of where they are, which does increase page times.

Content Delivery Networks are reasonably priced and very easy to set up. There are new Content Delivery Extensions for Joomla that help you get up and running with a CDN, although there are some minor steps involved within your CDN's account control panel prior to installing one of these Joomla CDN extensions.

Our recommended Content Delivery Network for Joomla is MaxCDN.  They are very reasonably priced and offer a discount to new subscribers. Additionally they also provide you with an easy to follow guide on how to set up your CDN, it literally takes just a few moments to do.

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