Today’s internet user is often on the go and expects websites to load quickly. They want instant access to information from their laptops, tablets, or smartphones.
Having a nice-looking website is a good thing, but users will quickly leave a slow website, as load speed is essential. You’ve got very little time to engage your audience and keep them on your website.
Plus, search engines such as Google and Bing consider load time important when ranking websites in search results — both on mobile and desktops. A slow website directly affects your search engine optimization (SEO).
If you have a website and aren’t sure where you stand on loading times, read on to learn:
- How to determine if you have a slow website
- What causes web pages to load slowly
- Five ways to fix a slow website
How To Find Out if You Have a Slow Website
Some website owners might assume their website is fast because it loads quickly on their computer or mobile phone.
Unfortunately, that’s not always true.
Your website might load quickly for you because the browser already stored your website’s HTML files in the cache when you loaded it the first time. And if you visit your website frequently, your browser automatically fetches the stored information.
But what about the rest of your website’s users?
Most visitors will have a different experience — especially first-time users and those in distant geographical locations. A website speed test can accurately tell you the speed of your website.
You can determine your website speed with different tools, including:
What Causes a Slow Website and 5 Ways To Fix It
A slow website can drive away potential clients before they view your content. Optimizing your website for speed can also increase audience engagement and boost your website’s visibility on search engines.
Here are five reasons you might have a slow website and how to fix them.
1. Your Website Is On a Shared Hosting Plan
If you’re using a shared hosting plan, your website could slow down when you have traffic spikes. You’re sharing the same web server and resources such as bandwidth, CPU, and RAM with other websites.
This means that traffic spikes in high-volume websites will affect your page load times since the bandwidth limits are low. If one of the websites gets a lot of traffic, it impacts the server’s response, which could cause slow pages.
How To Fix the Problem: Upgrade Your Servers and Use a CDN
With dedicated hosting, you’re the only person using that server. You get optimized server configurations and all of their resources “dedicated” to your website. This means you won’t have to worry about slow load times even when there’s a lot of traffic.
Besides choosing the right web host, you can use other networks to improve your website’s speed.
If your website is hosted on a single server, multiple users could send requests simultaneously. So, it will take longer to process each request and slow down your website.
Loading times are worse for users who are far from a server’s physical location. Visitors located near the web hosting company’s servers will have faster loading times. A content delivery network (CDN) is crucial to solve this issue.
If your website uses a CDN, it instantly downloads its files from the nearest web server when a visitor’s browser makes a file request. Bluehost offers SiteLock as a great CDN option to speed up your slow website.
2. Your Website Isn’t Set Up for Page Caching
If your website has its caching disabled, this could potentially overload your server and cause your website to load slowly.
Browsers need to download web files to display a web page. If each file makes a separate request at the same time, then the server will need more time to download them. Depending on the size and number of files, this process can take several seconds — even longer if your internet connection is already slow.
How To Fix the Problem: Use Page Caching
If page caching is enabled, the server temporarily stores the website’s downloaded files in the random-access memory (RAM). So, when a visitor wants to view the page again, the server doesn’t have to repeat the entire process.
Since the browser already has some files available in the cache, it can make fewer requests to the server. Fewer files to download means less time to load the page.
A properly configured website can load in the blink of an eye. Caching your pages helps visitors easily navigate and click through your website.
3. Your Website Images Are Too Big
Images and graphics can make your website look beautiful. The right graphics are invaluable in boosting engagement, especially for eCommerce websites. However, image sizes can impact website speed.
Assess the impact images make on your website with a tool like Pingdom.
Pingdom’s speed test offers an analysis so you can learn how much images are affecting your website’s loading times. Large images that aren’t optimized can create a slow website.
How To Fix the Issue: Optimize Your Image Sizes
Reduce the number of images and optimize image sizes to improve your website’s speed.
One of the easiest ways to reduce image sizes is by cropping them before you upload them to your website. This should reduce the overall size of each page and can help with your website’s speed optimization.
WordPress users can compress image files with editing tools like Smush. This free WordPress plugin compresses your image sizes without affecting their quality. Optimize up to 50 images in a single click.
Choose the best file formats for your images as well. Depending on the image’s compression and file format, you can greatly reduce the file sizes. The most common file formats for optimized images are PNG and JPEG.
The PNG format is an uncompressed version of an image that doesn’t lose any data. This file format is often larger and useful if you want images with crisp details, such as detailed graphics, screenshots, and logos.
JPEGs are a smaller, compressed version of your original image, which means some image data is lost. If you have web pages with lots of photos, using JPEGs can help reduce load times.
4. Your Website Plugins Are No Good
Plugins are third-party tools that can enhance the user experience and performance of your website. But if your website’s plugins are poorly coded, they can slow a website by loading unnecessary information.
Additionally, too many plugins on one website can eat up resources and cause your website to load more slowly.
How To Fix the Problem: Manage Your Plugins
As your business grows, the number of plugins you use might increase. But you need to determine if all of them are vital to your website’s performance. Run a performance test to show which unnecessary plugins are slowing down your website.
The quality of your plugins also matters. Usually, plugins that generate a lot of queries on the database and load several scripts are not good for your website speed. Keep your WordPress plugins updated regularly for optimum performance.
Having to download each file could potentially lead to a slow website.
When you build your website, there might be excessive inline styling, white spaces, or semicolons, which can make your style sheet bulky. W3 Total Cache is a WordPress performance plugin that could help minify these unnecessary elements.
Most of these solutions are geared towards those who are using WordPress for their website.
So, to sum up:
WordPress Speed Optimization
- Upgrade your servers and use a CDN
- Use page caching
- Optimize your image sizes
- Manage your plugins
For serious content marketers, speed optimization is a top priority to ensure optimum website performance. If your website is too slow, the bounce rate will go up. Making sure your website has a fast loading speed is among the best things you can do to improve its performance.