Why Is My Website Sooooo Slow?

A good-looking website is ace. However, the speed that your website takes to load can let even the visually strongest sites down. There’s a couple of reasons for this from both an SEO and a user experience perspective:

According to Moz,

“Google has indicated site speed (and as a result, page speed) is one of the signals used by its algorithm to rank pages. And research has shown that Google might be specifically measuring time to first byte as when it considers page speed. In addition, a slow page speed means that search engines can crawl fewer pages using their allocated crawl budget, and this could negatively affect your indexation.”

So basically, the speed that it takes to load a page on your website can affect it’s search engine rankings.

In terms of users on your site, the longer the page takes to load, the more likely the user is to give up and go elsewhere. Most people don’t like waiting around for websites to load for more than a few seconds – and if it’s happening on every page they try to go to, they will abandon ship pretty quickly.

How can I check my website’s speed?

There are a number of ways you can check the speed of your site – Google offers PageSpeed Insights which will analyse both the mobile and desktop versions of your website and give you recommendations on how to improve it’s performance. This tool also helps you with improving the mobile-friendliness of your site (which you should know by now is v. important!)

If you want some actual figures on how long your site’s taking to load, you can sign up for a free account at StatusCake, which as well as checking the load time at regular intervals, will also check the uptime of your site (with how long it goes down for when it does). Pingdom is a pretty similar tool to use for this as well.

How can i improve my websites speed?

There are a number of things you can look at to improve speed and performance of your website:

  • Enable compression – you can use file compression to reduce the size of your sites CSS, HTML and JavaScript files.
  • Optimize images – this involves making sure you’ve used the appropriate file format (eg. .png for graphics, .jpegs for photos), and not uploading images that are a lot bigger than they need to be. To solve this you can manually resize images as well as using a plugin to help you compress images on WordPress sites.
  • Minify files – Basically, this means squashing up the code in your CSS, HTML and JavaScript files so that there’s no clutter like spacing, code comments and unnecessary characters. This can be useful for code in more ‘bloated’ themes where there’s allsorts in there.
  • Leverage browser caching – so your browser stores a lot of info about a website when its visited. The idea with this is that the users browser doesn’t have to reload the entire page everytime it’s visited, which means its served up in a lot less time. Say Google: “Fetching resources over the network is both slow and expensive: the download may require multiple roundtrips between the client and server, which delays processing and may block rendering of page content, and also incurs data costs for the visitor. All server responses should specify a caching policy to help the client determine if and when it can reuse a previously fetched response.” This can be really useful on sites that aren’t updated so often, but if your site is regularly changing then check the expiration dates on your cache.
  • Improve server response time – most of this relates to what hosting you’re using, which is why it’s important to go for the best option you can afford. Other things you can check here are if any of your plugins are causing issues by using a lot of resources, and what PHP version is running on your server.
  • Avoid redirects – predictably, these make things take longer, so check plugins/themes and avoid them if you can.
  • Use a Content Delivery Network – these help your site ‘spread the load’ when it comes to delivering content. Notable examples include CloudFlare and Amazons CloudFront.

There are many other things you can do here and there to improve performance, but the points above are a good base to work from when beginning to improve the performance of your website.