Having a slow website can be detrimental to your business. Not only will potential customers end up bailing before they purchase, but your organic rankings can also take a huge hit. In fact, if you are using Google Analytics, you can get website speed data and more.
As technology increases, so does the expectation on the speed at which things work. Like your website. If it has been awhile since you ran an audit on your website load times, it might make sense to contact me.
For those “do-it-yourself” types, let’s go over some super easy ways to handle your extra slow website.
1. Reduce Image Sizes
Your website visitors love the images you use to demonstrate your products or services. However, if you have not optimized your images, these files can severely impact the load speed of your website.
The most common approach is to compress your images. For the most part this means using an image that is the actual size you want to display it as. If your webpage template is calling for a 400px X 400px image, then that should be the size of the image you are using. Most of the time, web developers will upload larger images and simply resize them through the page code.
The page will still load the full size, larger image and then resize it within the page. Whereas, if you already have the correct image size, it removes the process of essentially downsizing the image to fit.
2. Use CSS Sprites
Depending on the needs of your website, using CSS sprites can help reduce website load time. A CSS sprite is essentially a way to combine multiple images into a single image.
This means that you are able to reduce the amount of HTTP requests made when the page loads which will help speed up the website load time.
3. Use External Media Sources
In a perfect world, everything that gets loaded on your website should be hosted on your own server. However, you might find yourself embedding media such as videos or slideshows which can cause your website to load slowly.
If the website you are embedding from is running slow or even worse is down, it will cause your site to load slow in that it is trying to pull in the embedded data. Again, when possible limit the amount of external resources you use on your page.
4. Optimize Your Code
One of the biggest culprits of slow websites we run into is a result of un-optimized code. I won’t get down in the weeds too much on this one, but essentially depending on the methods/tactics used to code your website can cause it to load slow.
5. Cache Your Website Database
If your website uses a database to power it, you should consider implementing a way to cache the database. In short, caching the database allows your website to serve up identical data once to multiple users.
Without database caching, each time a user loads a page on your website, your database has to load up the data to present the visitor. Caching can take the same data and basically reserve it to future visitors which eliminates strain on your server and database. This can help out with remarketing campaigns.
6. Get Faster/Better Webhosting (Shared Hosts)
Sometimes you can do everything right for optimizing your code, images, etc, but in the end your site is slow due to bad webhosts.
If your website is currently being hosted on a shared server (which are commonly the $4.95/month plans), then your website is sharing server sources with hundreds, if not thousands of other websites. When you have an overloaded server with that many websites fighting for resources, you are going to notice some serious load times.
To fix this issue, I advise getting a VPS or dedicated server. This will allow you to have more control of how many (if any) other sites are running on your server.
7. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A CDN, or content delivery network, can significantly reduce the load time of images for your website visitors. The way a CDN works is that you essentially save your images to the CDN instead of your own server. The CDN, through its network, will load the images for the user from a location that is close to them. Since the data (images) has less distance to travel, the images are able to load quicker for the user.
8. Reduce the Number of Plugins
If you use an open source platform such as WordPress, chances are that you have quite a few plugins activated. I recommend making sure the plugins are updated to the latest version to reduce the likelihood of any security issues.
Next, I would delete any inactive plugins from your WordPress installation. If you want to go a step further, you can deactivate all plugins and then turn them on one by one. Each time you turn one on, test the load time of the website to see if any are significantly impacting your website speed.
Speed Up Your Slow Website
There you have it, 8 super easy ways to handle your extra slow website. While there are undoubtedly more than 8, from my experience these seem to be some of the easiest and most effective.
Of course, you don’t have to implement all of these tips, but they are a good starting point should your website load slowly.
What known issues are you having with your load times? What have you done to improve them?
Be sure to sound off in the comments and let me know. Or if all of this seems a bit foreign to you, feel free to reach out to me.
Also, do you have a friend or know of a website that loads slow? Be sure to email them a link to this blog post. You’ll be doing them as well as myself a favor.
photo credit: Michael W. May