In today’s fast-paced and information-driven world, time isn’t just money anymore. Time is everything, and as a society we have grown so accustomed to accessing information in the blink of an eye that we get agitated when we have to wait mere seconds for our beloved data to be delivered. Patience is a virtue, but just about anyone browsing the Internet has little patience to spare.
As such, building a website that doesn’t meet users’ expectations is going to dig an early grave for your online business. Even if your business has a brick-and-mortar location, your online efforts are not going to be fruitful if your website is slow.
But what do you do to improve the speed of your website? Where on Earth do you begin looking for the cause of slowly loading pages and a bounce rate that higher than the Empire State Building? The first place to look is with your hosting provider.
If you are new to owning and building a website, you likely didn’t understand the various hosting options at your disposal when you started out. Many newbies make the mistake of opting for the cheapest hosting option in an effort to save a few bucks a month, and as a result, they run into big problems down the road. Even if you want a shared hosting solution, you need to make sure you are working with an established and reputable company with a good track record (in other words, not GoDaddy). Signing up with a service that just launched may not be a good idea because they can’t make any quality of service guarantees.
Having said that, understand that no hosting company is absolutely perfect. Humans make mistakes, and sometimes there are misconfiguration issues and Internet problems. If you notice that your website speed isn’t performing as quickly as you expect it to, it is a good idea to reach out and open a ticket with your hosting company to make sure there are no hidden surprises.
It is also a good idea to setup a continuous ping to the website via the command prompt with the following command:
- ping examplewebsite.com –t
This will show you if there are any Internet carrier or hardware related issues bogging down your website. If you notice odd or intermittent ping data, you will need to report that information to your hosting provider.
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Consider Your WordPress Theme
The 2015 theme developed by WordPress is very lightweight, flexible, and fast. One of the reasons it is so fast is due to the fact that it was intentionally designed to be simple in nature. The focus was on speed and performance, not additional code that could weigh down the theme.
Unfortunately, not all themes were created equal. Some of them load at slower rates than others because their internal organs are fatter than others. If you suspect that your theme is slow and you want confirmation, you are going to need to do some Google research and see if anyone else is having the same problem. You can also utilize the WordPress forums to post a question about your theme and open a dialogue with others using the same theme as you.
Note: Need some help with your WordPress SEO? Check out this free WordPress SEO webinar with tips on optimizing your site for Google.
Use a Caching Plugin That is Secure
When you’re worried that your website is running too slow, you can also take advantage of caching plugins to speed things up significantly. Before you run out and download the first caching plugin you see, do your research first! Some caching plugins in the past contained vulnerabilities related to XSS and SQL injection, so research your desired caching plugin before you install it on your site. For that matter, you should research all of your plugins before you install them! After installing your caching plugin of choice, you should notice faster page load times.
Personally, I prefer the Zen Cache plugin for WordPress.
Remember to Optimize Your Images
Some, but not all, websites rely heavily on images. In fact, there are some websites out there that are geared more towards humor that really only offer image content. Though your demands for bandwidth and images may not be as large as these types of websites, you will likely still benefit from optimizing your images for downloading. There is a handy plugin called WP-SmushIt that will help optimize image sizes to help increase page load times.
Optimize Your Homepage for Fast Load Times
Though you certainly want to have an exciting and attention-grabbing homepage, you may have too much of a good thing going. If you have too much on your home page, it will undoubtedly take longer for your website to load. A few key things to keep in mind include:
- Only show excerpts instead of full blog posts
- Limit the number of posts per page that you show
- Only include sharing plugins and widgets on the blog pages themselves, and remove them from your home page
- Delete and remove all inactive plugins from your website
- Generally, remember to keep things clean and simple on your homepage
Once you notice that your homepage loads a little more slowly than it should, use these tips to trim things down, increase your load times, and improve the user experience.
If it turns out that your hosting provider isn’t to blame, your site is likely loading slowly because it isn’t optimized correctly. This can repel would-be-visitors and irritate the ones that are repeat customers. Remember that every millisecond counts! If you don’t know how to make your site run faster, let us help!