Formerly Owned by eBay, Magento is one of the most-popular ecommerce business platforms in the world. The program is an open-source platform that provides online sellers with a flexible shopping-cart system as well as the ability of controlling the content, appearance and functionality of their ecommerce site. Magento offers highly effective marketing and search-engine optimization tools as well as a versatile catalog-management system. However, Magento does have somewhat of a reputation for performance slowing down over time. One way Magento performance can be enhanced is by increasing page load times.

How Page Load Time Works

Page loading, or page cache, helps to optimize your site for search engines by improving the loading speed, or load time, of web pages. Page load time can drastically impact your visitor’s user experience and therefore your site’s ability to convert visits into leads and sales. Tests conducted by the three major search engines showed that only half a second difference in loading time can cause as much as a 20-percent reduction in overall traffic to a website. Because of this, search-engine companies deem page-loading time to be one of the most critical factors in determining a website’s ranking in the search results.

Search engines take a snapshot of each web page and caches, or stores, the snapshot as a back-up. The snapshot is used as a static HTML version of a webpage in order speed up queries to your database. The stored version of the page is what the search engines use to judge how good of a match a webpage is for your search query. Accessing cached pages is faster because it takes more time for the search engines to read the most recent version of the webpage than it does to serve up an already cached version of the page.

Page Cache for Magento

Because page-loading time is one of the most important factors to your sites search rankings, and sales, the first step in increasing speed to be sure you are always running the latest version of Magento. For the more technologically inclined, follow these steps to improve Magento performance:

1) Enable Flat Categories and Products

Go to Magento administration, then choose: System Configuration; Catalog; Catalog; and Frontend. The select “Use Flat Catalog Category” and then set “Use Flat Catalog Product” to “Yes.”

2) Merge CSS and JS Files

In Magento administration choose: System; Configuration; Advanced; Developer; JavaScript Settings; and then CSS Settings. Select “Merge Javascript” and then set “Merge CSS” files to “Yes.”

3) Improving Page Cache for Magento

Only after all other settings are completed, go to: System; and then Cache Management. Select all items and then on the “Action” dropdown menu select “Enable” then “Submit.”

These settings should help improve performance of most Magento websites. Of course, those who have more experience with server-side administration will be able to increase performance further.

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