Have you tried optimizing your slow website but the load time still remains the same in Pingdom and GTMetrix speed test? If that’s you, I’m going to show you the underlying reasons responsible for slow loading websites.
Truth is, nobody likes a website that takes forever to load. If we can first identify the problems and root causes of what’s making your site slow, then we’ve achieved half of the solution.
Disastrous Consequences Of Having A Slow Website In This Age
In this present age of speed where anything a user wants can be quickly gotten with the click of a mouse button, the patience of people has grown thin.
The average website speed for desktop is 5 seconds, and for mobile, it’s 8 seconds.
People looking for information on the internet these days just want to open your site, find their solution and get out as quickly as possible. Heaven forbids that anything, such as the slow loading time of your site, delays them. They’d quickly hit the ‘back’ button to Google search and look for a faster loading site where they can get their information.
As a matter of fact, internet users in Google search might not even get to open your slow website before the faster loading sites, because Google has announced that page speed is now a part of their ranking factor.
What this means is that Google will rank sites with a fast page speed higher than sites with slower page speed.
So if you’re still wrestling with the fact that page speed affects Google ranking, you might want to reconsider your stand.
This post may contain affiliate links. See the full disclosure here.
Here are some disastrous effects of having a slow loading website presently:
- If your website takes longer than 3 seconds to load, 53% of people will abandon it. (Source)
- 47% of internet users actually expect your web page to load in 2 seconds or less. (Source)
- If all other Google ranking factors between you and your competitor’s content are equal, page speed could be the deciding factor why your slow website ranks below your competitor’s fast site, even if their content is inferior to yours.
- Google is actively working against your website if you refuse to address your site’s page speed issues.
It is recommended that you should optimize your page speed for mobile first, before desktop, because of Google’s mobile-first indexing. This is because Google will rank and index your site based on the mobile experience of your site, and no longer the desktop experience like before.
Get my short visual guide on steps you can implement to make your website load in 1 second below.
A while ago, the norm was that we optimize our page speed for desktop, then think of how to implement it for mobile. All that has changed now, as we optimize mobile page speed first, before desktop, as not adhering to Google’s mobile page speed update could seriously impact your website.
Page speed affects revenue and sales
Big brands like Amazon and Walmart have seen an increase in revenue when they took out time to implement some tips for increasing page speed on their websites.
Walmart noticed a 2% increase in conversions for every 1 second of improvement in load time. Every 100ms load time they gained resulted in a 1% increase in revenue.
Amazon has calculated that every extra 1 second it took for their site to load costs them $1.6 billion in sales each year.
Now, let’s bring it home.
Do you know that if your blog is making $100,000 daily, a 1-second page delay could cost you $2.5 million in sales every year?
And also, 52% of potential customers on your blog say that quick page loading is important to their site loyalty.
Bloggers cannot afford to joke with the page load time of their website.
The importance of page speed to your online business has suddenly become critical, thanks to our fast-paced lifestyle. Not only does it affect big brands, but page speed also affects B2B websites.
11 Common Reasons For Slow Loading Websites (And Their Fixes)
I’m going to identify some of the root factors that affect website speed, as well as show you how to resolve these issues.
Many people have found out after constantly trying out all the page speed optimizations they’ve read online without success, that a simple change of web host gave them the boost in page load time they’ve been seeking.
Not all hosting companies are optimized for site speed. Believe it or not, your hosting is the #1 determinant of how fast your website loads.
Carrying out speed optimizations on a weak-hosted site is going to yield little results. Same is cramming more than one site on a single hosting plan.
Ash recently put together a list of hosting companies and tools that speed up your WordPress performance.
Ideally, you should have one website on a single hosting plan.
SiteGround is specifically built for speed, as they have an inbuilt powerful caching plugin that comes with the hosting plans for free. It’s called SG Optimizer.
In your SiteGround account, there is a free Cloudflare CDN account patiently waiting to be activated on your website, waiting to do wonders to your page speed, waiting to take your website from loading in 5 seconds to making it load in 1s.
You can check out the full reason why I prefer SiteGround.
Did I forget to mention that their support is fast too? The response time for live chats is almost instantaneous, and tickets take an average of 10 minutes to be answered.
If you want to start your optimization for page speed on a solid footing, I recommend you host with SiteGround.
No Caching Plugin Installed
Caching a website is a technique used in dramatically increasing page speed by storing your site’s files in your visitor’s browser so that your website won’t need to load every resource when it is opened again.
The response time in loading your site usually experiences a significant boost. If there’s no caching system in place on your website, you’re missing out.
Adam Connell has made a list of top caching plugins (and speed enhancing plugins) you could install to speed up your site.
If you use SiteGround, you could easily turn on SuperCacher, now called SG Optimizer, and all the various levels of caching in it.
Head over to SiteGround’s cPanel, and click on SuperCacher.
Turn on caching in all three tabs of Static cache, Dynamic cache, and Memcached.
Then go to your WordPress admin panel and click on SG Optimizer, click on SuperCacher Config and turn on the Dynamic cache, Automatic Cache Purge, and scroll down to turn on Memcached.
Now, caching is active on your site.
No Use Of CDN
A CDN hosts your site’s files across a large number of servers around the world. If your web hosting server is located in the US, people from India will experience longer load times when opening your site.
The farther your users are away from your web hosting server, the longer the time it takes to load your site. Using a CDN makes it possible for your audience in countries far from your web host server to experience a fast load time as they’ll load your site from a CDN server closest to them.
Chris from RankXL shared how he increased his website speed by 362% using Cloudflare CDN.
If you’re a SiteGround user, you can easily activate your Cloudflare free account. Head over to your cPanel and click on Cloudflare.
Click on Activate Free. Under Manage Account, click on Manage.
Click on the Settings tab.
Cloudflare will send you an email that contains instructions to reset your password for your account. Your website might be inaccessible for 24 hours, as part of Cloudflare’s policy. Usually, after the 24-hour period is up, you will be able to access your website again.
I usually don’t recommend Cloudflare free account for websites that load below 4 seconds as your page load time might be slower, it’s better to use a paid plan instead. From experience, websites that load above 4 seconds tend to enjoy more speed boost from using Cloudflare.
Having followed these instructions, Cloudflare CDN should be up and running on your site.
No Leveraging Of Browser Cache
Leveraging browser cache using expired headers helps to set the time when the caching of different elements of your website would expire. It complements whatever caching plugin is installed on your website.
Though some caching plugins like WP Rocket and W3 Total Cache have the feature to set expired headers, it doesn’t give you the room to set clear and specific dates for your expired headers.
I’ll walk you through the process of inserting leverage browsing caching code in your .htaccess file located in your cPanel. Short dates for expired headers reduce your page speed, long dates do not help either.
Optimal expiry dates are contained in the guide below along with an easy walkthrough of the whole process under 2 minutes.
Using Flash Content
While flash content may make your website interactive, the files are very bulky. Large files result in slower loading pages. I understand that at a time, using flash content was in vogue, but it’s not anymore.
Getting fancy with unnecessary bells and whistle all over your blog can seriously hamper your page speed.
Get rid of all flash content running on your website. It’s costing you added seconds in loading your site.
Images with large sizes take up a lot of bandwidth and space which results in slower loading of your site. Most images you’ll use for your blog are probably larger than the required size for width and height in your website.
Take time to resize your images. Installing WP Smush.it allows you to perform lossless compression on all your images, as well as all images in your media library.
Compressing and resizing your images will improve the overall speed performance of your blog.
Install Autoptimize and click on the “Extra” tab.
When you’re done, scroll down and click the Save button.
Clogged Up Database
We tend to forget about our database most times, leaving it to get clogged up with saved drafts, queries, deleted posts in the trash, deactivated plugins and other things that overwhelm the optimal performance of the database.
Install WP-Optimize to delete everything that is cluttering up your database. By doing so, it speeds up time for the browser to collect and return files from the database.
Not Enabling Gzip Compression
Gzip compression reduces response time by compressing your web pages and style sheet before sending them over to your visitor’s browser.
Not enabling it means that your files are going to be bigger and larger, which is not really a good thing. The bigger the files, the longer it takes for it to load in your visitor’s browser.
You can score a quick win by simply enabling Gzip compression on your site.
Head over to your cPanel and click on File Manager.
Tick the box for “Show hidden files”, and click Go.
Click on .htaccess.
Then click on the Code Editor. A pop-up window will be shown. Click Edit.
Copy the code below for Gzip compression and paste it at the bottom of the codes in the .htaccess code editor.
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/vnd.ms-fontobject
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-opentype
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-otf
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-truetype
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-ttf
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE font/opentype
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE font/otf
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE font/ttf
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE image/svg+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE image/x-icon
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
# Remove browser bugs (only needed for really old browsers)
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4 gzip-only-text/html
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4\.0 no-gzip
BrowserMatch \bMSIE !no-gzip !gzip-only-text/html
Header append Vary User-Agent
This should clear the error of Enable Gzip compression in GTMetrix.
Too Many Plugins
Installing too many plugins in itself has the capacity to drag your site speed down. The more the plugins, the more resources that will be loaded on your website’s server.
Deactivate and delete all plugins you don’t need. If you have too many plugins that you can’t do without, install Plugin Organizer. I know, I know, I just told you that too many plugins are not good for your site. And here I am telling you to install another plugin.
The thing is, Plugin Organizer deactivates any plugins not being used and turns on only the plugins that’ll be needed at a particular time. With only the needed plugins turned on, your server response time will be improved.
Using Themes That Are Not Lightweight
Some themes are created with bulky codes that end up dragging your site speed down. Aside from the fact that they are not optimized for speed, most times they are also not mobile responsive.
When next you want to purchase a theme, look one that is HTML5 enabled, mobile responsive and has lightweight codes. I’ve put together a list of those themes optimized for speed and SEO.
Implementing the fixes contained in this guide should see your page speed increase reasonably. But if you want to take it a step further on achieving a 1-second load time and staying ahead of Google’s 2-second page speed benchmark, download my complete guide to help optimize your website for speed.