Clicking on a website seems like an easy job. What do you imagine your website’s visitors to be? Small business owners, startups, entrepreneurs and others. But all of them visit your website with a common expectation that your website will load within a blink of their eye, apart from finding a solution for their queries.
The websites exceeding the average page load time i.e. taking more than 2-3 seconds to load are distracting their users. The users tend to leave those site(s) and move to other ones. This even impacts the search engine rankings.
A study titled “why web performance matters: Is your site driving customers away?” by Gomez stated that an online visitor expects a webpage to be loaded in less than 2 seconds and after 3 to 5 seconds as many as 40% of the visitors abandon a site.
Most of the online shoppers facing website slow loading issues will never return to a website, especially the eCommerce ones, to buy again due to poor experience.
You lose precious conversions if your website loads slowly. A difference of just a second can result in a huge revenue loss for your online business. So, to increase your revenue, you need to optimize your website speed to keep your visitors happy.
Here are a few examples:
- Mozilla saw 60 million more Firefox downloads per year when it made its pages load 2.2 seconds faster.
- For every 100ms delay in loading site, Amazon loses 1% of their sales.
- Shopzilla saw 9.5% increase in their revenue and 25% increase in page views by reducing their page loading time by 2 seconds.
These examples make it clear that page loading time definitely have some impact in number of visitors and conversions you are getting through your website. If your website is loading slow, you are losing a decent number of visitors.
There can be a number of reasons for a slow loading website. We have discussed some of the major ones alongside. Let’s have a closer look.
1. Non-Optimized Images
Remember old-days of dial-up internet? A large image could take minutes to load. It was distressing. Things have improved since the introduction of broadband, but the general rule still applies.
A large volume of unoptimized images can be the most common reason behind a slow loading webpage. High bandwidth images consume too much bandwidth while loading. Uploading larger sized images can increase the size of your webpage, making it load slow.
The image format is another critical factor to consider. For example, JPEG images are much smaller in size as compared to other image formats such as GIF or PNG. Naturally, your webpage will load faster if you have JPEG images rather than having PNG/GIF(s).
Optimize your images before uploading them to your webpage. Try to keep your images less than 500Kb in size. For larger images, use JPEG instead of PNG, though the icons can be used in PNG format.
2. Server Performance & Location
When someone clicks on your website, it’s like turning on the engine of your car. Your visitors are asking your engine to start. Your browser will send a ping to your server. It asks for all information and data so it can load your website.
It might take longer to respond if your server performance is poor. A slow server will always make your website load slow. The server performance depends on your web host. If your site is loading slow, it’s because you’re in queue with other sites.
Also, the server location is another important factor to be considered if your website is loading slow.
Suppose your server is hosted in Japan and the maximum number of visitors are from the US, the information has to travel a long way. Your web page will load faster for a visitor trying to access it from Japan as compared to the one in the US.
3. Using Flash Content
Flash can be a great tool to add interactivity to your website, but it highly contributes to your slow loading webpage. Flash content is heavier in size and makes your webpage load slow.
Reducing the size of your Flash files or eliminating it altogether would improve the page loading speed. If you are willing to make your webpage(s) load faster, you can replace Flash with HTML5.
4. Too Many HTTP Requests
6. Not Using Caching Techniques
Caching is one of the widely used techniques known to improve the website performance by leaps and bounds. You’re missing out on something if you’re not using caching techniques. Caching lets you store frequently used data points in a ‘cached memory’. Any request for same content is served from that cached memory, which in turn speeds the entire data retrieval process.
You can implement server-side caching and browser caching to experience improved website performance in terms of loading speed. You can easily cache a bunch of things from database queries, HTTP requests to images. You need to do caching without a mess as it can be a bit tricky.
You can enable site-wide caching on some web hosting providers like HostGator, GoDaddy and BlueHost with just one click. Also, you can use WordPress plugins to to enable caching. This method gives you greater control over caching.
Which are the best WordPress caching plugins?
7. Unclean Code
Unclean code is another culprit for your slow loading website. When you create a website, excessive white spaces, inline stylings, unnecessary comments and empty new lines can make the website stylesheet go bigger in size.
You can reduce the file size, compress the code and improve overall page load time by simply removing these unnecessary elements. And if you are tracking the rankings, you will witness a boost in your SEO rankings. The process of removing these unnecessary elements is called minifying. Use inline CSS and try avoiding multiple CSS stylesheets when you can do it all with a single one.
8. Avoiding gZIP Compression
Compression contributes in reducing the response time by minimizing the size of data that is transferred between your servers and visitors’ browser. This in turn help sin serving the requested content faster.
Enable gZIP compression on your website to reduce the page load time. It is an easy performance win.
9. Using Too Many Plugins
This contributes to more file requests at time of page load. So, if you have too many plugins installed, it’s going to slow down the things. Make use of plugins that are absolutely necessary.
10. Too Many Advertisements
The display advertisements are the best source for monetizing the high traffic websites. But that must not come at the cost of compromised website performance or poor user experience. Don’t let too many ads be another reason of your website being slow.
Too many advertisements contribute to addition of HTTP requests that will need additional processing time, thereby contributing to slow loading webpage.
The rich media ads like interstitials, auto downloads and pop unders can create hundreds of HTTP requests and can also make the website unresponsive. Limit the number of display advertisements to ensure good performance of your website.
11. Not Using a CDN
You might have heard about Content Delivery Network (CDN)? A CDN is a distributed network of independent servers that are deployed in different geographical locations to serve web content to the visitors with higher availability and performance.
The requested content gets served to the visitor by the node located at the nearest data center. It minimizes the round-trip time and serve the requested content in much faster time.
Which are the best Content Delivery Networks (CDN)?
Never allow a slow loading website being a reason for poor ranking and losing visitors. Website loading time is one of the most crucial ranking factors considered by most of the search engines like Google. Besides, a poor loading website can have a huge impact on the number of visitors leaving your website before actually reading any content.
Even if you rank any page on Rank #1 on Google, you can still lose ranking because of high bounce rate.
If you have a website that is loading slow, troubleshoot from the above list to find the possible reasons and fix them as early as possible.