Remember that time you clicked a link and you were directed to a website that took forever to load? Frustrating, wasn’t it? I bet you didn’t stay long to wait. Now imagine that it’s your website that’s taking too long to load. Do you think your visitors are going to stay or leave?
Website speed performance is critical for a lot of reasons.
For example, page loading speed has become a search engine ranking factor. The faster a site loads, the happier Google and Yahoo are, and these search engines will bump you up in rankings compared to comparable, slower-loading sites.
Bounce rate measures how many visitors come to your website and then leave quickly. If bounce rate is high, it means a lot of visitors do not stay long, which signals to search engines that something is wrong with the page (and that can hurt your rankings). Fast loading speed reduces bounce rate significantly. A low bounce rate says to search engines that the site has what users are trying to find, which can translates into a higher place in the SERPs.
In short, a website that loads fast encourages visitors to stay longer. SEO benefits aside, this brings increased page views and visitor satisfaction, which are beneficial to bringing in sales.
Reasons Why Websites are Slow and How To Fix Them
Because web design has become a priority, page speed performance is often neglected. And it’s only after everything is set up and running that people even notice how slow or fast the page loads.
Sometimes it’s a little bit too late to do much. But other times, there are fixes. And of course you can take steps to prevent the issue entirely. Let's take at some of the common sources of trouble.
1. There’s Just Too Many Plugins and Widgets
Plugins are extensions that add a specific feature to a software or program. A very popular example is the Facebook Plugin for WordPress.
Widgets, on the other hand, are small bits of software that can be installed or run on a web page, such as a sidebar form on websites where visitors can subscribe to a mailing list.
These can add both functional and creative elements to the website. However, too many of these on a site slow down loading times the same way running to many programs can drain a computer's resources and cause it to lag. Keep your plugins and widgets to a minimum. Choose only what is necessary and remove anything that is irrelevant to the website.
2. Images Are Too Big
Visuals are incredibly important to this era of the web. Your sites should have images on them. However, if the file is too big it can take up to several minutes to load depending on your users' connections. Servers will have to work double just to load big images on time but results are usually not satisfactory.
You wouldn’t want to keep your visitors waiting, would you?
Image optimization is the solution.
While the image dimensions (how tall and how wide the image is) depends on the site’s design, you can reduce the file size by adjusting the resolution (the number of pixels per inch). Most high-resolution pictures, ones meant for print, are at 300 pixels/inch. Standard web resolution is usually 72 pixels/inch.
While you can use software such as Photoshop, Yahoo’s SmushIt tool resizes big images without compromising the quality.
3. Hosting Problems
Choosing an inadequate hosting service (the company that provides a server for your site) can compromise the loading speed of the site. If the infrastructure is not enough to handle the traffic or the complexity of your site, you'll see slow page loading times.
When choosing a host, you must consider the following:
Check whether they have customer support that you can contact anytime.
Start with reputable hosting providers. Word gets out when hosting providers have poor service, so do your research.
Check what sort of services you get. Look at the amount of storage and bandwidth allowance, as well as customer support, user reviews, cost, inclusions such as email, domain names, and more.
Thankfully, if the hosting service you choose is not working out, you can always change providers. Just try one for starters. If you’re concerned, you can test the site performance with a service like Pingdom for a while. If there's a problem and your hosting service doesn't help resolve it, then switch. The new provider will probably happily help you change your site over.
Two of the most popular hosting providers at the moment are Hostgator and GoDaddy. Monthly prices vary from $1-$10 depending on the provider.
4. Coding Issues
If you do your own website code, remember that poorly written codes result to slow loading times and search engine ranking. Basically, a browser reads and interprets the code first before displaying it visually. If the code is too confusing for the browser, the pages will load slowly as the browser tries to interpret what it reads.
Tools like our very own AffiloTools Health Check will show which areas of the website’s code need improvement. It can even spot issues such as missing a title tag or having too many H1 tags, which can hurt your SEO rankings. The Health Check informs you what the problem is, and how to improve the code.
5. You Aren't Running Page Speed Tests
To perform effectively and efficiently, sites need regular TLC. It's very important to do a regular page speed test. It’s like a regular check-up for websites, the same way you should visit a doctor regularly.
Tools like Google’s Page Speed, Yahoo YSlow and AffiloTools Dashboard’s Page Speed Score allow site owners to check how quickly the mobile and desktop versions of the sites will load. Although the page speed score is not always accurate, the tool gives insight to the loading speed of the site. Plus, it give tips on what you needs to do to improve page loading speed.
Page speed is essential to bring in visitors, conversions, and ultimately sales, as well as building your online reputation. With how technology has advanced, there are a myriad of factors that could affect page speed load. What we've covered here, though, is a good introduction to how to fix, prevent and say goodbye to slow websites.
How do you fix or prevent slow websites? Let us know your favorite tactics and tools in the comments!