When a user hits your website a call is made to your server to deliver the requested files.
The bigger these files are the longer it's going to take for them to get to your browser and appear on the screen.
Gzip compresses your webpages and style sheets before sending them over to the browser. This drastically reduces transfer time since the files are much smaller.
In terms of cost versus benefit, gzip compression should be near the top of your page speed optimizations if you don't have it setup already.
Gzip is actually a fairly simple idea that is extremely power when put to good use. Gzip locates similar strings within a text file and replaces those strings temporarily to make the overall file size smaller.
The reason gzip works so well in a web environment is because CSS files and HTML files use a lot of repeated text and have loads of whitespace. Since gzip compresses common strings, this can reduce the size of pages and style sheets by up to 70%!
Gzip has to be enabled on your webserver which is relatively straight forward.
When a browser visits a webserver it checks to see if the server has gzip enabled and requests the webpage. If it's enabled it receives the gzip file which is significantly smaller and if it isn't, it still receives the page, only the uncompressed version which is much larger.
The main reason it is important is because it reduces the time it takes for a website to transfer the page files and style sheets which ultimately reduces the load time of your website.
There are different methods of setting up gzip compression depending on whether or not you've got an IIS or Apache server (or something else entirely).
If your server is IIS, follow these instructions in the Microsoft TechNet document to enable compression.
You will need to add the following lines to your .htaccess file:
After you've saved your .htaccess file, test your site again in GTmetrix.com to make sure it has been properly compressed.
Our good friends at tweaky.com can set up gzip compression on your website for only $39!
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