Poor website performance is more than frustrating, its the number one way to lose business and SEO listings. A slow website can even lower social media reach.
No one wants to wait on your page to load. There are other options on the big awesome Internet that will load.
Many website owners don’t realize that their website is slow.
Let’s break down the diagnosis and the solutions.
How Fast Is Your Website?
First and foremost, you should CONSTANTLY be testing your website for speed. You can do that by visiting Google’s website speed checker.
The speed tester will reveal the speed at which your mobile and desktop versions are moving. Google will essentially tell you if the situation is good, bad, or average.
You can also get potential reasons why it is slow (pending that’s the result you get).
Pay Special Attention To Mobile
Mobile matters. Mobile matters the most.
Google has blatantly stated that mobile is their priority in terms of search algorithm. If your mobile site is slow, you need to focus on fixing this.
Start With The Template
Ahhh…the first time you laid eyes on that beautiful fancy template, you knew it was meant to be!
But you never considered how all that big beautiful stuff might slow your website to a crawl.
Here’s the thing, some templates (eh, many) suck.
If you find this to be the issue, try to bring your website back to a simpler template for a temporary period of time. Obviously, if you have a shopping cart enabled, this may be too complicated of a solve.
Next, when you review new templates, LOOK AT WEBSITE SPEED REVIEWS (I know, you forgot to do this originally, but we all learn this lesson at some point).
Audit Your WordPress Plugins
Plugins are super handy. They allow us commoners to create amazing functionality on our website without knowing code or paying an expensive developer.
But plugin creators don’t always consider the speed of your website in their creations. Plugins, even ones that aren’t active, can create memory strain on servers.
Plugins slowing down websites is a super common ailment. But many website owners forget to look at them.
You can help stave off plugin/server issues.
For one, make sure all plugins are updated. Out of date plugins can become security leaks as well as slow your website’s performance.
Optimize All Images On Site
Images are one of the top reasons a website crawls. If you aren’t optimizing the images you use on your website, you can expect it to eventually crawl.
There are lots of plugins that optimize images on your WordPress website, some charge a small fee, but its worth it for a faster website. Smush is one of the most well-known WordPress image optimization plugins you will find.
Use CDN Like Cloudflare
One of the greatest hacks for website speed is to use a CDN, such as Cloudflare.
Wait, aren’t CDNs super confusing and require the big brains of a dedicated server technician to run? Um, not at all.
Anyone can get a free Cloudflare account here.
Cloudflare will walk you through a step-by-step process to set up your site on their CDN. Essentially, all you will be doing is changing your DNS and adding some code to your website. It’s truly a breeze.
So what does a CDN do?
CDNs are often complicated by tech people.
I’m going to simplify this concept.
When someone visits your webpage, that webpage loads from your server. if your server is slow, your website is bloated with plugins, or you share a server with others who are running bloated sites, it may take time for your site to display to the end user.
Cloudflare takes your website and downloads it to their server. This way, the end user only gets the recent Cloudflare version of your website.
Now, you are probably thinking, what about when I update my site?
If you have a blog you update or make design changes, you can either have Cloudflare fetch the latest copy or, Cloudflare will fetch a new copy every few hours on its own.
It’s a simple additional step that improves the health of your site. Also, if your server is hacked, Cloudflare can continue to serve up the most recent version of your site! You will need to put it in such mode on Cloudflare so that the service doesn’t fetch the hacked version, of course.
Reduce Instances Of Code
Some code is just nessecary and vital to your website, particularly for marketing purposes. You need Google Analytics. Google Analytics code often is loaded in the header (though you can move it to the footer).
But there is often a lot of needless code loading in your website’s header that is useless. When a website page loads, the header and all of its code loads first. Yes, the browser will wait on all header code to load, often before loading the essential content that’s on your website page. That means customers are waiting on things they will never see before being exposed to your products and services.
Check your header code and look for instances of bloated code. Write down what you find.
Ask a developer to look into your findings. You might learn that a great deal of the code you found just isn’t needed.
Warning: Don’t recklessly remove header code, you’ll end up breaking the website. If you do decide to have code removed, make darn sure you back up the site first so you can revert it back if the removed code happens to break the website.
When all else fails, give the host a call and tell them you’ve looked into all points above but your site is still slow. See if they are willing to help you out. Remember, many hosts aren’t responsible for WordPress issues on your end. They don’t have to help you. Remember, more flies with honey…
Slow websites screw you out of money, SEO, and social reach. But slow websites are often the result of the website manager more than the host. Learning to utilize a few tools and use search engines to diagnose issues can help you overcome most of the issues.