Reduce Request Overheads with Cookieless Domains

Choosing to use a cookieless domain will ensure faster page load times and improve overall visitor satisfaction.

Most computer users today are familiar with the concept of cookies. In short, they are a piece of data stored by a browser that is used for visitors returning to a website. Cookies also store data that websites use to personalize information for returning viewers.

An HTTP request is completed each time a visitor pulls up a page on your domain. The web browser then stores all of the cookie information for your domain that is generated with each page view. The more information that is stored directly relates to larger HTTP requests and longer upload times due to the processing of this information. This can result in frustration for visitors due to slow loading pages, and may even encourage them to leave your website for a faster loading alternative.

It is important to understand that cookies are not software and cannot be programmed. Neither can they carry viruses or install malware on a user’s computer. However, cookies are frequently used by spyware programs to disseminate information about users and can create a major privacy concern. Cookies are also stolen by hackers to access a victim’s web account.

How can my website benefit from being a cookieless domain?

Depending on how you want to use the information that cookies supply for your domain, you may opt to set them for a homepage or a subdomain. If they are set incorrectly for any page, they will create a heavier overhead request than is necessary for proper function.

Many domain owners choose to not set cookies for subdomains. To accomplish this you have to be certain your server only sets them to the homepage. Otherwise, cookies will automatically be used for subdomains as well. Setting cookies only for a homepage will also help reduce overhead requests and improve page load times for visitors.

All static content on your website should be hosted from a cookieless domain or cookieless subdomain. Files such as images, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), Flash files and JavaScript files are all examples of static content. Beyond reducing request overhead, cookieless domains have been recommended by Google for serving static content as well. Adhering to this advice may serve to help improve your SEO ranking.

How does disabling cookies on a browser effect overhead requests?

Cookies can be disabled on browser settings and this will increase page load times for visitors that have chosen this option. With cookieless domains, no HTTP request is sent via your domain and no request overhead is created. Choosing to use a cookieless domain will not only ensure faster page load times without visitors having to change their settings, but may help improve overall visitor satisfaction and encourage return business to your website.

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Author: Brian F.

Brian F. is a blogger for InMotion Hosting, one of the leading providers of virtual private servers in North America.

This entry was posted on Monday, August 22nd, 2011 at 11:17 pm and modified by WebMaster View on Tuesday, November 5th, 2013 at 4:27 pm. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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