Having a high-performance website doesn’t only equate to a respectable ranking with Google; it also equates to better user experience and an increased number of conversions. When it comes to optimizing a site’s speed, a single millisecond can make quite a notable difference.
7 Reasons Your Website Is Slow
Before we disclose how you can go about optimizing your site’s speed, we first need to address the root cause of the problem. There’s a number of factors that might have something to do with your website’s unfortunate hindrance, from excessive HTTP requests to poor hosting.
Sadly, the number of reasons why your site might be underperforming in terms of speed is quite large to discuss in just one article, but we’re going to cover the most prominent ones and reveal how you can go about sorting them out to enhance your website’s load time.
1. Excessive HTTP Requests
Quite a large portion of a website’s load time is spent downloading the different constituents of the page, such as scripts and images. For each of these various constituents to load, an HTTP request is required. So the more elements you have, the longer the load time will be.
There are many ways you can figure out how many HTTP requests your site tends to make, one of which is using Google Chrome’s Developer Tools. All you have to do is right-click on the page that you’d like to analyze, choose the “Inspect” option, and then select the “Network” tab.
The three columns you need to be looking at are the Name, Size, and Time columns. The Name column indicates the names of all the files present on the web page, the Size column shows you the size of each of these files, and the Time column indicates the load time that each file needs.
Looking at the bottom left corner of the screen, you’ll notice the total number of requests that the analyzed site makes per visit. You want to scan through your files and pinpoint the ones that are unnecessary. Remove these files to reduce the total requests your website makes.
2. Unoptimized Images
The use of an immoderate number of unoptimized images is one of the root causes of long load time on a web page. The term ‘unoptimized’ describes images that are bandwidth-consuming in terms of size and format. Try reducing the size of the images on your page to reduce load time.
What’s more, you want to pay attention to the format of the images on your site. We recommend opting for images in JPEG format because they’re smaller in size compared to PNG images. We also recommend reducing the number of GIF images on your website if you have any.
A general rule of thumb that you want to abide by is that images that are larger than 1 megabyte need to go. Bear in mind that using unoptimized images doesn’t only increase the load time that your web page requires, but it also adds to your expenses in the form of bandwidth overage.
While the emergence of JS plugins has kick-opened new doors as far as incorporating dynamic content, JS plugins can lay waste to all of your hopes of improving your site’s load speed if used immoderately or incorrectly, as they require time for loading, interpretation, and execution.
There are plenty of tools that you can use to reduce the number of JS, CSS, and HTML files in a matter of minutes, including Script Minifier and WillPeavy. Other tools like Segment help provide a single script that unifies all of your customer data under one umbrella.
4. Unaudited Coding
Does your website’s coding suffer from useless comments, excessive white spaces, and empty new lines? If yes, then no wonder your web page’s speed isn’t living up to your standards. Such coding mishaps can easily result in enlarged website stylesheet size, increasing its load time.
You need to carefully inspect your website’s coding and remove such unnecessary elements to boost your website’s load time. Also, we recommend you decrease the number of CSS stylesheets that you use for better performance. Better yet, try to use only one CSS stylesheet.
5. No Caching System
Does your website create the same content with every visit? If so, then you’re in serious need of a caching system. Caching is a technique that enhances a site’s performance using bounds and leaps. It stores various data points in the cached memory so that content is created only once.
There’s a broad range of server-side caching scripts that you can make use of, one of which is PHP accelerators. This PHP extension offers you the ability to optimize the performance of your website with the aid of caching techniques, among various other methods.
If you’re looking for a management system that offers static caching techniques, we recommend you using Drupal or WordPress. Using a static caching service, you can transform dynamic web pages into static HTML files, which helps reduce server processing and improve load time.
The great thing about caching systems is that you can use them to cache an extensive array of things, from images and database queries to HTTP. However, the caching process isn’t as easy as it might across, so you want to make sure you know exactly what you’re doing.
6. Lack of CDN Service
The distance between the user’s location and your website’s server determines the site’s speed for the user. If the user’s location is far away from your site’s server, it’s going to take a long time for the required data to travel to the user’s location, increasing the page’s load time.
A content delivery network caches your website’s content across various geographical locations around the world so that users from across the globe can receive the transmitted data in a short time. Of course, not all CDN services are equally great, and some are better than others.
You must keep in mind that CDN services can be quite costly. However, the price you pay for an unswerving CDN is compensated by the gained speed, which ultimately adds to your returns. In search of a reliable CDN service? You should definitely try MaxCDN.
7. Poor Hosting Provider
For new website owners, opting for a cheap hosting service isn’t that big of a deal. However, as soon as your website starts garnering traffic, it’s time to upgrade to a more steadfast host. Some of the best hosting providers available include Bluehost, SiteGround, and Hostgator.
Available hosting options:
- Shared Hosting – This is the cheapest hosting option available. It’s an ideal choice for a low-traffic website. However, we wouldn’t recommend this option for high-traffic websites because it’s not capable of handling traffic spikes very well. Keep in mind that this option is based on sharing resources with sites that are using the same service.
- VPS Hosting – While VPS hosting also relies on the same sharing principle that shared hosting utilizes, it provides a dedicated portion of the resources shared on the server. As a result, your website remains safe from other users of the same server.
- Dedicated Hosting – Just as the name implies, this option offers you total ownership of your resources, so you don’t have to worry about sharing with anyone. This option also offers you an abundance of space and puts you in charge of all maintenance. However, you must keep in mind that this option requires a lot of technical work on your part.
How Fast Should Your Website Be?
It’s important to set a goal for your site as far as how fast you want it to be before attempting the steps we’ve just discussed. According to Google’s standards, 3 seconds is the time a web page needs to load in its entirety. However, this is a number the vast majority of sites haven’t met yet.
Google has also released a study that indicates that the majority of all mobile sites require about 15 seconds to load, which is nowhere near Google’s standards. Are you wondering how serious a long load time can impair your mobile site’s outreach? Consider the following statistics:
- 1-3 Seconds – 32% bounce rate increase
- 1-5 Seconds – 90% bounce rate increase
- 1-6 Seconds – 106% bounce rate increase
- 1-10 Seconds – 123% bounce rate increase
As you can see, the longer the load time on your website, the larger the degree of damage that it can inflict on your business, which is why it’s crucial for all site owners to keep improving upon their websites and do their best to reach Google’s benchmarks.
Your site’s speed can always be improved upon, so don’t just settle for the above-listed methods regardless of how effective these methods are. Always be on the look-out for newer approaches that can help minimize your page’s load time to a satisfactory number.