What is HTTP2? How it can boost a new WordPress website
A while back, a significant upgrade in Hypertext Transfer Protocol was released in the form of HTTP2. The new protocol is aimed to improve the end-user latency issues and enhance the overall performance of applications. It needed no more convincing for people to ditch HTTP for HTTP2.
Stick to the end of this article to know the ins and outs of HTTP2. Since most of the websites are developed on WordPress, we are including a free guide that explains why you should be using HTTP2 for WordPress and how to do it.
- What is HTTP2?
- How HTTP/2 is lightning up the world of WordPress websites
- SPDY and HTTP/2
- How to use HTTP/2 on a WordPress website
What is HTTP2?
Every time you hit the search engine, you see “Http/ or https/” on the site address. These are the set of written protocols that govern transfer codes/data from a server to a browser. HTTP was first introduced back in December 1995. The internet has come a long way from there. The growing need for a faster and more user-friendly web surfing saw many enhancements in the original HTTP.
HTTP2 is the latest upgrade in the Hypertext Transfer Protocol that aims at improving the latency issues of a website. The new protocols optimize your website by reducing the loading time without the requirement of additional website boosters. Before getting into the depth of HTTP2, let’s first learn about HTTP.
What is HTTP
The hypertext transfer protocol is a basic protocol that enables the transfer of files on the internet between a server and a browser. It is the way to ask permission to view/fetch any server’s data on your browser that includes texts, images, videos, audios, and all the other content.
In simple terms, the HTTP carries out communication between the browser and the server. Every website has a server where all of its data is saved. To access that data, you need to ask for permission. This is precisely what the hypertext transfer protocol does for your browser. It initiates a connection between the server and browser and asks the server to grant access to its data to the browser.
It is done one step at a time. For example, if you click on the link of a website, it takes a while before all the data shows up on your browser. The https asks for HTML files first, then images, videos, audios, etc. This is why you see some latency before webpage loads with full content. The browser keeps asking the server for data until the entire content is sent.
Imagine that you’re trying to view a web page on the website www.j2tmedia.com. This is how the Http connects your browser to the server.
Browser: Hello Server www.j2tmedia.com, can I please have the content of this website?
ServerXYZ: Hey there browser, here you go, I’ve sent the text files of www.j2tmedia.com
ServerXYZ: Sure, I’m sending the files one at a time.
- Here are the required images.
- Here is the other required data.
This process continues until all the data of a webpage from the server is transferred to the browser. Since the files are transferred one by one, there is always a loading time to view the complete webpage. This is where HTTP2 comes to your rescue; it reduces the waiting and loading time of websites.
Why do you need HTTP2?
HTTP was introduced back in December 1995. The use of the internet was minimal back then. Unlike today, we did not have billions of websites. The internet was bandwidth hopping in bits rather than MegaBytes. There were hardly any graphics included on the web pages other than Html files.
Over the years, usage and popularity increased drastically. After more than two decades, the internet has become an essential part of our daily life. The websites have become heavier in terms of the data they carry. The more the data, the longer a site will take to load completely. This requires a smart approach to optimize web pages in a way that reduces loading time. This is precisely what HTTP2 does for your website.
There are more factors than the speed of the internet and data on a website that causes a delay in loading time. For example, a website that has a few users will load faster than a website that is attracting thousands of users. Therefore, HTTP2 is required to provide users with the best possible end-user experience and tackle latency issues. Are you still wondering why you need it? Well, there is more to it. Besides enhancing website loading time, it helps the site to be less error-prone and reduces security concerns. This paints a clear picture of why you need the latest version of HTTP.
The pre-http2 era
Before we get more in-depth on how to use HTTP2 on your WordPress or any other site to speed it up, let’s learn how it was done using the previous versions of HTTP. The first upgrade of HTTP.09 was HTTP.1.0 that was launched a few years since the inception of the first version. It did not bring many significant changes when it came to website load time.
A few months later, a more effective upgrade with the name HTTP1.1 was launched. There were significant changes, such as reusable links, pipelining, etc. Web developers also started looking for ways that will reduce the latency without the content on the pages. Here’s how you can enhance the web-surfing experience using HTTP1.1.
- Reduce: Reduce the number and size of files such as images, GIFs, videos, js files. Reduce the number of requests by compressing several CSS and JS files together. Remove the unnecessary plugin to make the web page light. You can also compress the files to reduce their size using WordPress Zip Compressor.
- Reuse: Version 1.1 allows you to reuse a previously loaded website. This saves the time to reopen a page many times and display the full content loaded when the page was accessed the first time.
- Pipelining: This version introduced pipelining that allows sending the second command/request. This second request can be sent even before the first one is answered thoroughly. This reduces the time for transmitting data, which thereby makes a website faster. Pipelining effectively reduces the latency of communication.
- Cache-Control: Version 1.1 comes with added cache control. It also helps in making use of caching browsing. For example, when a user visits your WordPress website in quick succession, there is no need to download all the data again. Some of the data is cached in and ready-to-use for the quick successive visits.
- Secure Surfing: Besides making your WordPress websites fast, version 1.1 also enhances the security of web surfing. The data from both ends are kept safer than compared to HTTP0.9 and HTTP1.0 versions.
Therefore, to speed up a website, you require a lot of hacks and tricks with HTTP1.1. Not to mention, most of the tricks require you to compress the file size and/or reduce the number of resources on the pages. Let’s learn how HTTP2 helps to make your WordPress website fast without requiring much hassle.
How HTTP/2 is lightning up the world of WordPress websites
After more than two decades since the HTTP was first launched, the latency issue on the website was still a tough row to hoe. This urged developers to come up with a protocol that could effectively reduce the delay in loading a website. Keeping this in mind, the HTTP/2 was launched in 2016. The primary focus of the new hypertext transfer protocol was to fix the latency issues and improve server resource usage. Before jumping to learning how HTTP/2 is achieving its goals, let’s first point out the significant changes in this upgrade from the HTTP1.1 version.
- Binary protocol: It is a binary protocol and not a textual one. Therefore, it can’t be read and altered, which makes it more secure and less error-prone.
- Multiplexed protocol: It is a multiplexed protocol that allows parallel requests. This was introduced to remove the blocking constraints of the HTTP1.1 version. For example, imagine having a single gateway to pass-through for every file. This was undoubtedly time-consuming, and at times if one file got stuck, all other files will be stuck behind it due to blockage. A multiplexed protocol lets many files/requests transmitted simultaneously. Therefore, if one connection is blocked, the files can be transferred using other connections. This reduces the loading time of a website by a great deal.
- Compressed headers: It compresses headers that eradicate duplication of data. This effectively saves time as headers and data are transferred in a single go rather than multiple times. It decreases network overhead, thereby boosting the speed of transmission of RTP and TCP packets.
- Server push: This allows a server to gather data in terms of cache files. Therefore, the server takes charge of the probably required data transfer instead of waiting for the user’s browser to ask for the data one by one. This whole mechanism is termed as an HTTP2 server push.
- Uni-connection parallelism: As stated above, a gateway is tough to access if a user keeps opening and shutting it down frequently. Doing so, the user raises a major overhead problem. Multiplexed protocol let the same connection to be accessed again and again. The data keeps transmitting to and fro the server until all requirements are met. It is worth knowing that for a web page, the user’s browser keeps communicating with various web servers to bring several third-party data. Uni-connection parallelism makes the whole process more efficient and easier.
- More secure and stable: Besides making the WordPress website faster, HTTP/2 also adds to the stability and security of the site. Simply by using the binary protocol, the data becomes almost impossible to be read and altered manually.
- Improved TLS: TLS or Transport Layer Security encrypts the connection between user and server. This adds to the security of our data by keeping it safe from the hackers who look to steal data.
Unlike in previous versions of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol, where only one file can be transferred at a time, the HTTP/2 allows the transfer of multiple files simultaneously. To top that, it also carries the other relevant files that the user probably needs without being asked for them. Collectively, this reduces the loading time on the websites by a great deal.
SPDY and HTTP/2
Before the inception and introduction of HTTP/2, the issues regarding latency and efficiency were fixed using SPDY. Pronounced as Speedy, SPDY is an open-source TCP based protocol that was formed by a team of engineers at Google. It was developed as a successor of HTTP1.1 to counter the latency issues.
The main motives of SPDY were
- To enable multiplexed protocol for ongoing requests. As explained above, this feature helped to reduce the loading time of a website, even with several connections.
- To understand the most needful data of a site and to send these files on priority before other data files.
- To compress the HTTP header files that significantly eradicated the duplication of data and enhanced the site speed.
- To bring the server, push into action. However, this feature was not as effective with Speedy as it is with HTTP/2.
It was believed that SPDY would make the website functioning twice as fast as experienced with previous protocols. A big chunk of the front-running browsers and servers favored the SPDY. However, only a few implemented it. SPDY was critical in the foundation of HTTP/2 and was pretty much the stepping stone for the same.
How to use HTTP/2 on a WordPress website
It is clear by now how HTTP2 helps to boost the speed of a WordPress Website. Let’s take a look at how to implement HTTP2 on a WordPress website with the best efficiency. Implementing HTTP/2 on a WordPress website is no piece of cake; it requires a lot of technical knowledge. Lucky for us, numerous WordPress hosting providers make this process much easier. Before we get into more depth, let’s get familiar with browsers and servers that support HTTP/2.
Which browsers support HTTP/2
The most prominent browsers, such as Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Microsoft Edge, Yandex, etc. support HTTP/2. Apple is set to be included in the list soon after an official statement that. Over two-third of browsers support HTTP2. We’re convinced that as time passes, more names will be added to the list of the browsers that support it.
Even if a browser does not support HTTP2, but the website does, you will encounter no issues. There is often a question raised about whether the world of the internet is ready for HTTP/2. The answer is a big fat, yes. If you have the resources to implement HTTP2, do it without any second thoughts.
Which servers support HTTP/2
Apache and Nginx are among the most popular servers that support HTTP/2. There are various online portals where you can check if your server supports HTTP2. If you wish to use HTTP2 on WordPress, you need to check whether your hosting service provider has enabled it. The majority of the renowned web hosting providers have enabled the use of HTTP/2 already and with more to follow soon.
Again, there are online tools available that can be used to figure out whether or not your web hosting provider supports HTTP2. Always check the functionality of HTTP2 before purchasing a web hosting service for your WordPress website. In case your hosting providers do not support HTTP2 yet, you can add a few software that will enable HTTP/2 on your website. Famous companies like SIteGround and Hostgator support HTTP/2.
How to enable HTTP/2 on a WordPress website
If the server and browser are compatible with the latest HTTP2, all you need is to install the newest upgrades of the browser. With a compatible server, the browser will itself carry out functions using HTTP/2. To enable HTTP2 on WordPress, users require a secure connection. This could be a little tricky if you’re not a developer. Here are a few merits of a secure certificate on the server.
- A boost in SEO ranking: All secure sites have their SEO ranking boosted. For any website, there is hardly anything that matters more than a good SEO ranking.
- Safe browsing: Secure sites offers secure browsing. This implies that all the data that is sent or received, such as personal details, passwords, etc. are protected.
Hire WordPress Developers, request for free quote.
The secure site certificate can be obtained from the hosting service providers. Some companies even offer a shared certificate where you can share a secure certificate with other domains. The safe option is to purchase a unique security certificate and not a shared one. WordPress.com already offers security certificates. The installation of the certification is taken care of by the hosting service providers. Later, you can progress to run a permanent redirect using the .htaccess file. If you do not want to be a part of any technical stuff, there are site hosts that will get the job done for you at nominal charges.
Which plugins should be used for WordPress HTTP2
There is a server push plugin that can be used on a WordPress website to make the best use of HTTP/2. This is carried out at the Content Management System level. Therefore, you need to contact the support team on WordPress. You can also use a page cache plugin for a better user experience.
Conclusion – WordPress HTTP2
HTTP/2 for WordPress is nothing less than a blessing. It will not only make your website fast but also account for several different benefits such as better security and stability of the site. HTTP2 is still in its initial state of implementation. It will take a while before it becomes a conventional technology for websites.
To boost the speed of your WordPress site furthermore, you can implement the following optimization techniques.
- Use a page caching plugin
- Enable PHP level caching.
- Make the most of resources such as optimizing the images.
- Function a CDN.
- Practice cache browsing and header compression
- Make the most of the google fonts.
Luckily, WordPress has tons of plugins that can quickly help in carrying out the functions above. To summarize, if you wish to make your WordPress website fast, secure, and stable than ever, implement HTTP/2 without any second thoughts.
Fast world, faster WordPress
If you wish to beat the ever-growing speed and competitionof the internet, you need to get faster. HTTP/2 is a safe and sure-shot way to tackle the latency issues and enhance the end-user experience of your WordPress website by a great deal.
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