Why is my website slow and what can I do to improve it?
There are a number of factors that contribute to slow website speed. In this post, I will discuss some of the most common factors and offer several solutions.
Why should you care about website loading speed?
Website loading speed has become an extremely important factor in ranking for search on mobile devices. Back in 2018, Google spelled this out in an article which specifically stated that Speed is now a landing page factor for Google Search and Ads. Basically, what this means is that if your website is slow on mobile devices, Google will drop your site in the rankings. So, now is the time to get serious about measuring and improving your site speed.
What tools are available to test your website speed?
I use GTMetrix, a free tool to measure website speed. What I like about GTMetrix is that it gives an easy to understand score based on grades; A is the best, F is the worst. Plus, along with the grade, GTMetrix shows you hold long the website took to load and offers suggestions for making improvements.
Here are a list of some of the most common factors that are responsible for slow page speed.
- Hosting Provider: The old axiom, “You get what you paid for” is often true for website speed. Discount web hosts are notorious for slow speeds and should generally be avoided. I recommend Siteground which has a robust SG Optimizer plugin which improves speed. Plus, for increased speed boosts, they also have higher level plans.
- Large Images: What I mean by “large images” is the file size, not the actual size of the image on the page. I recommend using an image compressor such as Imagify. This is a paid WordPress plugin that is very easy to use, does a great job reducing image file size, and saves a lot of time.
- Video: I have seen video absolutely “CRUSH” page speed. If you want to include videos on your home page, instead of pasting the YouTube or Vimeo link, instead, consider using a thumbnail of the video and then linking the thumbnail to the video. This way, your website will not have to pull data from YouTube or Vimeo. When I use the term “pull data” I mean that literally—your hosting server has to ping YouTube’s server to pull data, then send it back to your hosting server, which then sends it to the visitor’s server. This extra back and forth results in additional time to load the page.
- Third-Party Integrations: Now, it is becoming more common to have integrations such as, email signup widgets, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter streaming plugins, etc. However, you need to consider that every time your page loads, your site will have to pull that data from each of those third party integrations, which can greatly slow down your site’s speed. An easy solution is to move some of your third party integrations to other pages, such as your About or Contact pages.
- Not Updating your WordPress theme and plugins: There is no such thing as a “build it and forget it” website. The internet is constantly changing, as well as the devices used to access the internet, including screen size. Therefore, theme and plugin developers often release updates several times per year. By not implementing these updates, eventually, your website can “break” and no longer provide a good user experience—which is what Google cares about. And if your site no longer provides a good user experience, then you should expect a drop in the rankings. Solution: Always, always, always have an automatic backup service for your site and check your website monthly and install updates. If you feel uncomfortable with this type of work, consider hiring a professional to manage your site’s ongoing support.
By doing what you can to improve the loading speed of your website, you can get a competitive edge on your competition in local search results. Especially, for local businesses, such as, hair salons, dentists, lawyers, flower shops, and restaurants, most of your competition will not be implementing these types of improvements. Google is often opaque when it comes to how their ranking algorithm works, so when they explicitly write that speed is a landing page factor in rankings, you should definitely do what you can to improve your site’s speed.
Feel free to reach us on our Contact page with any questions. We offer complementary website evaluations where we can test your site’s speed, look for broken links, metadata, etc.