When it comes to improving your WordPress website, there are many things to consider. But one aspect that often gets ignored is the time it takes for DNS lookups and how greatly it affects your website speed.
Like how network speed and initial server response time matter, DNS lookup time is another crucial factor in how quickly your web pages load, today, we'll explore a few tips to make DNS lookups faster, why it's important, and how it impacts the performance of your WordPress site.
What Is a DNS Lookup?
A DNS (Domain Name System) is like a phone book for the internet. It helps connect website names to their actual locations, known as IP addresses. When you type a website's name into your browser, a process of DNS lookup is performed that finds the right IP address linked to that domain.
In tools like PageSpeed Insights, the time it takes for this lookup is part of what they call 'Reduce initial server response time.' This response time, also called Time to First Byte (TTFB), begins when your browser sends a request to a server. How quickly the server gets this request depends on various factors: how fast the DNS lookup happens, the user's internet speed, distance to the server, and any connection issues. PageSpeed Insight doesn't tell us specifically what's causing the DNS Lookup delay. To solve this, we'll need other tools to identify and fix the issue. But first, let's understand how DNS lookup works.
Why Does It Matter?
Why does website speed matter? Well, for starters, a fast-loading website offers visitors a better experience and can even impact how well your site shows up in search engines like Google.
When a website takes too long to load, people tend to leave. More than half of users will leave a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load! Google found that almost half of visitors won't return to a site if they've had a bad experience, and slow load times are a big reason for that.
Google also considers page speed when deciding how high to rank websites in search results. Slower websites might not get indexed or crawled as well. That's why having a website that loads quickly is super important for website owners to succeed online."
How to reduce and Speed up DNS Lookups
Now that you've got the hang of how DNS functions, let's explore some tips to make DNS lookups faster on your WordPress website. Sometimes, in speed tests for websites, this is also called "minimizing DNS lookups."
Using a Fast DNS Service
Using a speedy DNS service is crucial, just like picking a reliable hosting service for your website. There are various DNS providers available, some more trustworthy than others. Choosing a top-notch provider can significantly speed up your DNS lookups. Popular options include Cloudflare, WordPress.com, Edgecast, DNSMadeEasy, and DYN.
These DNS providers work a bit like Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) by having many locations worldwide. Big providers like Cloudflare have a vast network that offers quick DNS responses tailored to your location. You can also use tools like DNSPerf and DNS Speed Test to check which DNS provider performs best for your specific location. This way, you can ensure the fastest possible speed for your website visitors.
Minimize the number of CNAME records.
Reducing the number of CNAME records can help spееd up your website. Each CNAME rеcord adds a littlе еxtra timе for lookups, which can slow things down a bit. Having a fеw CNAME records isn't a big problem, but if you have many of them, it might be a good idea to remove some from your DNS sеtup.
An alternative to CNAME records is using ANAME records. They work similarly to CNAME records but operate at the root level and offer the same functionality. Switching to ANAME records could be a helpful solution to maintain functionality while reducing lookup timеs.
Take Advantage of DNS Caching
You can speed up DNS lookups by using caching, which reduces the number of lookups needed each time a page loads. Think of DNS caching as storing information for later use. The DNS cache holds website names for a certain period. So, when your browser requests a website, it gets the name from the cache instead of doing a new lookup.
Adjust your DNS records' Time to Live (TTL) settings to enable DNS caching. This TTL determines how long the information stays in the cache.
Different types of records have different caching times:
- CNAME Records: Usually set for 24 hours.
- A and AAAA Records: Typically set for a few minutes to an hour.
- TXT Records: Often set for 12 hours.
- MX Records: Also set for 12 hours.
A and AAAA records should have shorter caching times. However, CNAME, MX, and TXT records can usually have longer caching times, like 12 or 24 hours. Remember, TTL values are usually shown in seconds, so consider this when choosing your values for caching.
Setting up DNS Prefetching
You can use DNS prefetching to speed up how your website loads, which helps reduce delays in DNS lookups. With prefetching, browsers do these lookups in the background while users are reading a webpage. This works well for links within your content. Moreover, you might need to retrieve DNS records for various assets like Google Analytics, Font Awesome, and Google Fonts. To initiate DNS prefetching in WordPress, add specific code to your page files' header:
<link rel="dns-prefetch" href="//asset1.com">
Ensure to substitute "asset1.com" with the appropriate URLs you want to prefetch. You can repeat this line for each URL you want to prefetch. This method helps prefetch DNS information and lets you get DNS records for necessary assets, streamlining the loading process and enhancing your website's speed.
Cutting down on DNS lookups is crucial for making your website work faster. With so many outside services and requests, your website might slow down due to increased visitor latency. Following the steps outlined in this guide, you can swiftly reduce DNS lookups on your WordPress site and make it load much faster.