A slow website will stop your visitors engaging with your site. It may even make them leave your site immediately. If your site sells products then a slow site will lead to lost sales, costing you money. So what can you do when your website is slow and how can you fix it?
Identifying The Cause Of A Slow Website
There are a few factors that can cause your website to be slow.
- Hosting. Your choice of hosting is a major factor in the speed of your site. A sign that your hosting may be the problem is getting a lot of timeouts or 503 error messages. These types of errors are common on cheap shared hosting accounts. If you see these types of errors then you should consider changing hosts. Our recommendations for hosting are Siteground (for non-technical people) and Cloudways. Hosting problems are common for people when their sites become more popular. Luckily hosting problems are easy to fix by moving to a better hosting partner.
- Images. If your site includes a lot of images the images can slow down your site. Images contain a lot of data and can cause your pages to load slowly. Once again this is easy to fix. Images should be optimized for your site. This is a process of reducing the size of the image so it takes less time to load. There are some free services available for this. My favourite is Kraken.io. You can upload your images via the internet and it will compress them for the web. If you are using WordPress, there is a plugin to automatically compress your images. Compressing and resizing images makes a huge difference to your web page speed.
- Plugins and Themes. Properly coded themes and plugins should no cause your website to be slow. Sometimes adding plugins or changing themes can slow or break your site. You can see the effect that your plugins are having on your site. Install P3-Profiler for WordPress and run a scan to see how your plugins affect your site. Remove any plugins that you see causing problems. A well-coded theme lays the foundation for your site. I always choose themes based on the Genesis Framework for my sites. You can get more information on Genesis here.
- Caching. Implementing caching on your website can have an enormous effect on performance. If you are using a CMS such as WordPress, the web page is served by many database queries. Each of these database queries takes time. Caching stores these queries in memory. Some caching stores static versions of your pages and these are served much quicker. My favourite caching plugin for WordPress is wp-rocket (not free). A great free alternative is WP Super Cache. Implementing caching will speed up almost any site.
If your site is running slow investigate the potential causes above. Make the necessary changes to speed up your site. Site loading time is now a ranking factor for google so a faster site means higher rankings.