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Gzip - what it is and what advantages it offers you!

Gzip or GNU zip is a compression program. The bottom line is that your website loads much faster. In other words: It shortens your page load time. This also improves your website ranking. Because the Google Crawler places faster websites at the top of the index. This in turn ensures higher website traffic. And that is, after all, a basic prerequisite for winning new customers on the Internet.

So what does Gzip do? It can compress almost all files on the webhost. It then sends them to the browser. This "compressed" data is then unpacked by a web browser. Afterwards it shows them again with full data volume. Since the server sends smaller data packets, your visitors won't notice the lightning-fast unpacking.

You can check the page speed of your website with various website analysis tools. Google PageSpeed Insights is one of the most important. The Sistrix also helps you to analyze the PageSpeed. For example, it shows you various warnings in the optimizer. One of them is too long a loading time. The warning triggers with loading times of over five seconds. In our experience, however, this has been much too long. Sistrix recommends charging times of 0.3 seconds.

Gzip therefore helps to improve website performance by compressing the data. As soon as the message "Enable with Compression" appears, you know that your data has reached your users uncompressed. This can save up to 80 percent of data volume, especially on larger websites. In addition, the transfer time from your server is also reduced. But what is behind the term Gzip and what role does the software play in SEO optimization? In the following article you will get all important information about data compression.

Everything you need to know about Gzip technology

The term "Gzip" refers to a free compression program and the corresponding file format. The bottom line is that the technology can be applied to all computer operating systems. GNU Zip stands for a patent-free compression program. Originally designed for GNU variants such as Linux, it can now be used on all platforms. Every modern browser is therefore able to interpret compressed information. The term "Gzip" consists of the term GNU for the operating system and the English word "zip". The English designation "zip" can be translated with zipper and is to illustrate accordingly the contraction of the data.

The format GNU Zip works completely lossless. You can compress your data for transmission and reconstruct it for later use. This is a so-called codec. Because siond Encoder and Decoder are necessary for compression as well as for decompression. A codec basically describes a pair of algorithms consisting of encoder and decoder. These are used for text compression and encryption. The aim of these codecs is to reduce the amount of data in a file for storage and subsequent transmission.

How did Gzip come about?

Jean-Loup Gailly developed the file compression tool GNUzip. His goal was to create a replacement for the previous compression method "compress". This was only used under Unix. Gailly also wrote the code for the decompression method zip and is co-author of the Zlib library. This also allows to compress PNG files. Today, GNU Zip is one of the most popular compression methods for websites. Even the search engine Google recommends the program as a form of data compression, so that web pages can load faster. This is because compression rates of up to 90 percent can be achieved, especially for text files.

When is the compression program used?

Originally, Gzip was only used for the GNU platforms. Meanwhile the program can be used for all platforms without any problems. Only you have to pay attention to the GPL license before using Gzip. Linux systems usually already contain the practical compression tool. Alternatively, you can find it in the package manager ready for installation. On the official homepage, however, there are versions for Windows and macOS available in addition to the versions for older operating systems.

As soon as the program is activated, the web server automatically initiates the use of the uploaded or dynamically generated website content. This considerably reduces the loading time of the page for the visitor. Since users only have to load the compressed files, the website can of course be set up much faster. The respective web browser decompresses the content completely in the background. And that without the need for additional bandwidth. Above all, users of mobile devices benefit from the improved loading speed. This also improves the ranking of your website.

What exactly do you do with Gzip?

The GNU Zip program is based on the freely available Deflate algorithm. This again is based on the so called Lempel-Ziv 77 or LZ77 method. This enables the compression software to scan data for double strings or data strings. As soon as the software encounters recurring sequences, it replaces them with a reference to the first string.

The length of a sequence is usually about 32,000 bytes. However, the compression process is limited to individual pieces of information. This means that you also need the packing program tar. With this archive program you can create so-called tarball archives. You can recognize these archives by the extensions .tar.gz or .tgz.

Merging information increases the workload of the server processor by about ten percent. But the host only accepts 90 percent of the intended customers. Namely, if all clients use the format from compression software.

The free program GNU Zip has been used for more than 50 years. The practical module can be found on almost every HTTP server on the Internet. However, the software is not immediately released by every host server. For this reason you should always check first whether the original compression software is also available on your webhost.

Usually the program is activated with nearly all database providers, alternatively you can inform yourself about this at your provider. If the software is available, there are different ways to compress the text of your website. You can either use PlugIns for the implementation or trigger the compression via the configuration file with the extension .htaccess.

The different ways to compress files as Gzip

Probably the easiest way to compress a single file is the following command (Apple MacOS via the terminal, Windows via the command prompt):

gzip filename
To edit a file named "document.odt", use the following command:

gzip document.odt
The storage location of the file must not be missing. This should precede the file name. For a file on the desktop the command looks like this:

gzip Users/Username/Desktop/document.odt
Some files and folders can be "merged" better. You can easily compress documents and various audio and video formats such as WAV and MPEG. Other data materials such as JPEG images and MP3 audio files cannot be edited. The reason for this is the format of these file types: JPEG images and MP3 audio files are already compressed.

How do you extract compressed data? enlightened

You can decompress a compressed file with the following command:

gzip -d filename.gz
To decompress the file "meindokument.odt.gz" just use the following command:

gzip -d document.odt.gz
Don't forget the possible storage location. This means for our example:

gzip -d Users/Username/Desktop/document.odt.gz


What are the advantages of Gzip for SEO?

Short loading time improves the usability of your website. This improves the user experience. Therefore it belongs to the standard repertoire of online marketing measures in the field of On Page SEO. The faster the page builds up, the lower is the chance that potential customers will click away immediately. With a proper website design, for which you also use Gzip, you do something against a high bounce rate.

  • Especially online shops profit from the shorter loading time, because the conversion rate increases with a faster page setup.
  • Thanks to the higher retention time, search engines receive positive user signals, which in turn have a positive influence on Google's ranking.
  • The performance of a website is another ranking factor. You can improve this by using the program to use compressed headers from the archive. This way you optimize the performance of your site. The bottom line is that you do better in the ranking.

What should I keep in mind when using Gzip technology?

With the help of the compression program your web server can reduce the amount of data transferred considerably. For your visitors this means a much faster page structure and less data consumption. Especially for visitors with slow smartphone connections it brings a noticeably faster performance. The use of the compression software is very easy. The program already belongs to almost all Linux distributions. Only in exceptional cases do you have to install the package on Windows.

Now you are able to use the Gzip compression for your website. Afterwards you should make sure with an online check that the software works as desired. In the case of such requests, your web server should only deliver the compressed content. We recommend the free check of Google's PageSpeed Insights. After you have entered any test page of your website, the program automatically analyzes the content. It then shows you all the performance strengths and weaknesses of your website.

You will receive precise information as to whether Gzip compression is activated and running without errors. The HTTP Compression Check WhatsMyIP offers you a simple alternative to the Google tool. Since it is well known that a single download does not always run without errors, several checks are recommended. You should always perform the test for several pages of your web project.