How To Speed Up A Slow Website

Website Development

Nowadays it’s super important to have a really fast website. A fast website not only helps your website retain visitors and improve your search engine rankings, but it also increases the likelihood your visitor will take the desired action on your site. I spent years understanding how to get a fast website and I wanted to share that with you in this article today. If you want the competitive advantage of speed on your website, and potentially increase conversions, keep reading.

Why Does Website Speed Matter?

Website speed matters because it’s one of the biggest SEO factors when it comes to ranking on page one. Not only that but consider the modern day attention span and how short it is. If your website cannot retain visitors attention for very long, your visitor will likely leave and deem your website useless.

This pushes your website down in the rankings. A rule of thumb I’ve learned is if you’re not on page one, you might as well be on the last page.

Less than 1% of users go to the second page of any search results. That means the other 99% are on page one and that’s where you want to be. This can be fixed and I will tell you how below.

Understanding Website Speed

The speed of your website can depend on many things, such as page file size, image size, what hosting plan your hosting provider issued, the actual hardware your server your website lives on is using, et. cetera. Some are bigger than others, and some are even difficut to understand for most individuals. Here we will discuss the biggest factors I’ve discovered and briefly talk about how to address them.

The biggest factors I can tell you are the following:

  • hosting plan
  • image sizes
  • http requests
  • site caching
  • css and javascript usage
  • use of lazy loading
  • use of a content delivery network

Analyzing Your Website’s Speed

Analyzing your website speed is pretty easy. I wouldn’t recommend beginners taking a look at it because analysis can spit information at you that beginners may find difficult to understand. Online tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix, and Pingdom.com offer analysis metrics that allow you to see what your website is lacking in.

Of all of them mentioned, this website is lacking in mobile website performance. I’m aware, BUT because I have improved in other areas that cause my websites speed to be quick, this data is offset by my efforts. my websites load speed is between 1-2.5 seconds, which is fast enough.

Optimizing Images for Speed

One of the most common culprits behind slow websites is oversized images. By compressing images and using modern formats like WebP, you can significantly reduce file sizes without compromising quality, leading to faster loading times and a better user experience.

One of the biggest reasons is simply the size of your images. Most of our images we upload to a website are full sized and can be a few megabytes in size. That adds uneccesary bloat to your website, especially if they are .png formats. There are wordpress plugins that can fix this, yes, and wordpress itself offers an image size reducer built-in. It works, but for the most part it may not make the most difference.

On my website here, you may notice my images are no bigger than 1500×1000 pixels and are in the file format .webp. That file format reduces the size of images significantly and my biggest images are no more than 100KB in size. The drastically improves my website load times, and could even contribute to how you found my website and why you’re still here.

Leveraging Browser Caching

Browser caching is a storage method that stores certain elements of a website on your visitors devices thus reducing the amount of data that needs to be sent to their device on subsequent visits. This means if they visited your website once, the website will only take a fraction of a second to load even though the first time which may have taken a couple of seconds.

The beauty of cashing is that it makes your websites loading speed and user experience skyrocket! WordPress has a built in caching system and there are caching plugins that can improve this. Best of all most of them are free! I highly recommend getting started with caching if you want to improve your websites speed.

Minimizing HTTP Requests

Going on in the background of your site, there are resources that must be loaded from internal and external sources in order for your website to function as intended. The more of these resources a website needs to request, the longer your site takes to load. These include images, scripts, CSS files, and even elements from other websites altogether like YouTube videos.

This can be helped by reducing file sizes, combining files, and minifying scripts you use on your page. This can be a little more complicated than simply this, but I won’t trouble you with all that minutiae here. The aforementioned are the biggest requests that will happen in the background.

Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

One would think that Internet Speed is created equally around the world. But contrary to belief the distance the server your website lives on and the person requesting access to your website matters. The farther away the server is from the person accessing the website, the slower your site will load. Geographically speaking, if you are accessing a website in Australia from the United States, it may take a while for that website to load.

This can be fixed by using a content delivery network. A Content Delivery Network, or CDN, distributes your website’s files across a network of servers around the globe ensuring your visitors access your website from a server that is geographically closest to them, thus increasing website speed. If you have international users, this is a very big deal for them and their user experience.

Optimizing CSS and JavaScript

As mentioned before, optimizing your CSS and JavaScript on your page really helps. Minifying and combining files can offer much improved website performance. Instead of having to request many different files from different places, imagine requesting all the files in one place at once. This puts less strain on your website and allows your users to have a better experience.

This can be achieved with many caching plugins for WordPress and many WordPress themes offered on the WordPress theme repository offer this feature. With the click of a button, you can speed up your website right now.

Upgrading Your Hosting Plan

Depending on your budget, upgrading your website hosting plan can really affect your websites performance. For most users, they are using a shared hosting plan which is very cost effective. This is the best option for most beginner websites. Because I am a Webmaster, I use upgraded hosting and thus have a better server which offers much higher transfer speeds.

The usual tier list is as follows:

  • Shared hosting: slow and cheap
  • Virtual Private Server: faster and expensive
  • Dedicated Server: super-fast and more expensive

Because I am a growing agency and a Webmaster, the website you are on right now uses a virtual private server and will be using a CDN soon. It is the best selection due to my website needs. I would only recommend going this route if your website is gradually getting larger and has higher demands based on user count, storage requirements, and daily usage. I have over 12 websites with active users so I needed to upgrade.

Lazy Loading On Your Website

Lazy loading is when content on your website loads after it is on the viewport of a user’s device screen. This means when your user visits your website, it will only load the content at the top of the website instead of the entire page. What this virtually does is decrease your websites size from a couple of megabytes to several hundred kilobytes, which will significantly enhance your website speed.

This is very effective for websites that use high resolution images or have a very long and extensive home page or landing page. Either way it’s very useful to employ this on your website as you grow in size.

Suggestion: Delete Unused Items On Your Website

Delete unused content and plugins on your website. Having items and media on your site can cause your side a lot of bloat which makes it unnecessarily large. By cutting some of the unused content on your site such as images, videos, plugins, and even themes that you don’t use, you can increase your website speed. The impact of this is not as great as the aforementioned cases but it’s still a rather smart idea to implement.

Engaging with Professional Help

Most of the time we can’t do this ourselves and need a little bit of professional help. I wasn’t an expert when I started out. In fact 80% of the knowledge I have about websites comes from my hosting services customer service from the phone. HostGator has been very good to me and I owe them a lot to getting this far.

If you’re one of my website clients or have purchased any of the templates from my side feel free to reach out to me. I’d be very happy to help where I can. Chances are whatever challenges you’re facing with your website I have faced myself and have solutions and resources to address them.

My final words

One of my favorite customer service challenges is speeding up a slow website. It’s has so many benefits such as increasing your websites rank on Google, improving your visitor user experience, increasing conversions, and overall having a better website in general. If you need help with that today I can definitely help you out. Just head over to my contact page and I’ll get with you shortly.

Here’s to your super fast website!!

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