A slow-loading website is an issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. The longer you force potential customers to wait – and wait – and wait – for your website to load, the more leads you are missing. In addition to missing out on leads, load time is a known ranking factor on Google and Bing, and waiting for a website to load is plain annoying. Diagnosing a slow website can be difficult, as there can be any number for the delay. There are some remedies for a slow website, which are discussed below.
One of the main culprits for a slow-to-load site is an excess amount of photos, videos or other elements that simply take longer to load. If photos and videos are a necessity for your website (i.e. wedding photographer), be sure to optimize them before uploading. Refrain from uploading full-size images if possible, and always reduce the file size of an image to an acceptable level.
Websites that contain a large amount of Flash are also likely to take longer to load. Moreover, Flash is notorious for being incompatible with many devices – most notably Apple products, so it’s best to avoid the language if feasible.
If your website’s backend code contains a lot of unnecessary white space, CSS or comments, it will likely slow down the load time. Have your developer conduct a code audit to examine any files that may be contributing to unsatisfactory load time.
WordPress sites can be sped up by installing any one of the caching plugins available on the market. Plugins such as W3 Total Cache help speed up load time by storing a cached version of the website in users’ browsers. While this is a suitable option for most websites, it may not be a great fit for websites that contain frequently-changing content. Since users are seeing a cached version of your website, they will likely miss out on small updates and changes.
CloudFlare helps with load time by rerouting your nameservers through its own servers, which requires adjustments to your DNS settings. CloudFlare’s impact is not felt instantaneously – the more visitors your website experiences, and thus, data generated for CloudFlare, the better it will perform. CloudFlare also blocks unnecessary bots and spam attacks that may be clogging up the proverbial pipes of your site.
The most likely culprit, your website’s hosting provider plays a big role in its overall speed. If all else fails, consider upgrading your hosting package or switching providers altogether. We recommend SiteGround, but there are several other suitable options out there.
A couple of words of advice when switching your hosting: as with any major change, be sure to back up everything (files, database, content) in case something goes afoul.
What’s an Ideal Load Time?
Google has been quoted saying that webmasters should aim for a 1-2 second load time, but realistically, 3-4 seconds is an acceptable range. Anything upwards of 5-6 seconds is cause for concern; and at 10 seconds and up, the majority of visitors are likely leaving your website.
Test your website’s load time using Google’s PadeSpeed Insights Tool, which also provides suggestions for improvement.