The Dill Design: Now With SSL

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Does Moving to SSL Affect Website Load Speed for Human and Google?

I have been considering moving hosts for a while now, as my main VPS is on BlueHost and the performance is mediocre. That is not to say it is bad, it is just not awesome. I actually setup my own dedicated server infrastructure running on CentOS6.5, which is hosted on a VMWare server. I beefed up the specs to double what my VPS was offering.

Also during the process I was able to switch to Nginx– and boy am I happy with the change! I am using Vesta CP as my free cPanel alternative, it it is perfect for what I need (which is simplicity, instead of features).

During the migration, I also threw in a SSL certificate and redirect along with some canonical tags- The Dill Design is now 100% SSL. This is more for ranking and less for security, though security is always nice.

If you run into any troubles let me know!


The Dill Design on SSL


Here are some stats:

The Dill Design running on BlueHost VPS (2 cores, 2 Gb RAM) with CloudFlare Enabled

Google PageSpeed Insights: Mobile 60 Desktop: 83

Gtmetrix: Page: 92% ySlow: 83%

The Dill Design running on BlueHost VPS (2 cores, 2 Gb RAM) with CloudFlare Disabled

Google PageSpeed Insights: Mobile 60 Desktop: 83

Gtmetrix: Page: 95% ySlow: 83%

The Dill Design running on Dedicated CentOS (4 cores, 4 GB RAM) with Nginx

Google PageSpeed Insights: Mobile 38 Desktop: 51

Gtmetrix: Page: 73% ySlow: 74%

[dt_quote type=”blockquote” font_size=”normal” animation=”none” background=”plain”]As you can see, at first glance this change has a huge effect on page speed according to those two authorities. Just a note here- user experience is FASTER. Even though I need to fix a couple of items on the site such as gzip compression and deferred JS, the site loads faster for me on all browsers and on mobile.

So now, we need to fix up some of these items and get the site back to where it is on a page speed score.[/dt_quote]

I double checked my settings in W3 Total Cache, which almost all seemed good. I added in the option to minify inline CSS, and re-ran Gtmetrix:

Gtmetrix: Page: 89% ySlow: 80%

Better. Now lets move some of the caching features over to Nginx, using this great post as a reference.

Gtmetrix: Page: 91% ySlow: 83%

Even better! At this point, I am happy with the rankings and the user experience is super snappy. So- yes you should switch over to Nginx if you are on Apache only. And yes you should switching hosting even if your on a VPS from BlueHost, Godaddy, or a comparable host- hardware on those hosts is not as fast as the same hardware on a more specialized hosting, honestly.

Page Speed Notes

A quick note about PageSpeed and Gtmetrix… I often find that the user experience is reduced if you modify your sites to meet the needs of a high score in PageSpeed or Gtmetrix. In other words, when you minify CSS and JS, inline scripts and minify them, minify HTML- your PageSpeed score will go up, and you will have less bullet items to fix. But your site will get visually slower. I get clients contacting me all the time looking at Pagespeed wondering why they have an 80% and how they can improve by removing render-blocking JS files. Often my answer is- you cant! I personally think that optimizing for the user experience is MUCH more important than optimizing for search engines. I often try to find a happy medium and reduce all PageSpeed errors while keeping the UX crisp. This means that both of my sites do not use deferred JS or minified things.

[dt_quote type=”blockquote” font_size=”normal” animation=”none” background=”plain”]If you are a customer and your worried about your PageSpeed score, but your site performs well- relax. Sometimes you just can’t make everyone happy, and happy users equal more sales.[/dt_quote]

Ranking Changes

Switching to SSL of course had effects on my ranking, which it is too soon to tell. At this point in time, I have roughly 40% of the traffic/impressions that I had before. But this is temporary, and my metrics are on the way up. The difficulty in the change is that Google Webmaster Tools only tracks one protocol, not both. So I have an entry for and another one for As of right now, my original GWT account is almost down to no impressions/queries, while the SSL GWT is on the way up.

SSL Start

This is the start of the SSL, when I also added the site to GWT and began to track metrics.



Start of SSL 2

This is where we implemented the SSL certificate, and the site started redirecting 100% to HTTPS. We also created the second account in GWT.



Ranking Week 2Update 10/14/2014:

Rankings are on the move up. This is a direct result of the SSL as I have not been promoting the blog in any other way.



With that all said, we are excited to be fully on SSL, and have begun to move many of our customers over as well. If you need to move your site to SSL- let us know we can help! If you want to chat about this, you can find us on Skype at live:cm.dill or call +1 (888) 870-3181

Chris is a father of 4 and works full time as a network engineer. He loves The Office, P & R, brewing (and drinking) beer, and of course Web Design and SEO.

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