2 - Configure the CDN to pull files from www.mysite.com (origin pull is usually what they call it)
3 - Change the DNS entry for static.mysite.com to CNAME to the CDN provider’s name they give you
Some will let you run the dynamic content throught their CDN as well which would be even easier to implement (just a DNS change) but it is usually exponentially more expensive than the static file services and doesn’t provide as much benefit.
Akamai is pretty much the most expensive out their (justified by their footprint). Not sure what hosting costs are in South Africa but ti may end up being more affordable to host in SA.
For page load issues, Google uses data from users that visit your site and have google toolbar installed. So google measures speed from where your users are (you can see this data by logging into Google Webmaster tools click on the site in question, on the left side choose labs > site performance)
However another issue is with crawl speed. If your response to Googlebot is fast, Googlebot will crawl more pages at a faster rate… which improves indexability. Unless your site is making 1000s of new pages daily, i wouldnt worry about it and host locally.
I assume you tested from the Australia location, right? It might be worth doing a test using cloudfront as well since that’s Amazon’s CDN - though make sure to run enough tests for the images to get cached at the edge nodes.
If you have a link to test results I can provide some suggestions why that would be the case but I’m not all that surprised. If your base page is hosted in the US then that’s going to be at least half of a second just in round trips to get the base page.
I’d also bet that the local server you were serving static files from is a shared server and probably horribly over-provisioned. It should be blazing fast to serve static files but if the server is overloaded it is probably taking longer than it should to respond (first byte times for static files should be pretty close to the socket connect time).
For being new to it the site is actually looking really good. There are a couple of background images that could be combined into sprites but that’s pretty much it for the basics.
It looks like you are serving some images from cloudfront and some still aren’t - probably a good idea to get all of the images on a CDN (though looking at the performance, if AU is your primary customer base, it may make sense to use something other than cloudfront since they don’t have anything on the continent itself).
It is probably worth looking at your actual app server and back-end logic. It looks like there’s about 0.5 seconds of processing time to generate the page and anything you do there will go directly to the experience.
Beyond that you’ll probably be getting into some pretty advanced territory to try and deliver the images in fewer requests. You could sprite them (not traditional css sprites: http://www.artzstudio.com/2010/04/img-sprites-high-contrast/) but you’d probably need to have some code that generates them dynamically since it’s a products listing. You could also go the route of Data URI’s or MHTML to embed the images directly. It might not hurt to try one of the accelerator products that will do it for you on the fly - Strangeloop, Aptimize and Acceloweb all have solutions that will do some of the browser-specific optimizations without having to write a bunch of custom code.
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