Have you ever researched vendors online only to load up a vendor’s website that seems not to load at all? How long were you willing to sit and wait? 3 seconds? 5 seconds? Studies show that 1 in 2 visitors abandon a website that takes more than 6 seconds to load. If your website takes more than 6 seconds to load, it may be time for a performance tune-up.
After what feels like hours of researching, you’ve finally found the perfect vendor. You love their overall brand, mission, and feel. However, as you navigate their website, you notice it’s slow, and you begin to disengage. Whether it’s a slow-to-load email, website, or form, this has happened to all of us at one point or another. And what’s the result? More often than not, we move on before the page, or email even has a chance to load. This begs the question, what makes websites slow?
Why Website Speed Matters
Unfortunately, business owners often overlook website speed, and it could be quite a costly oversight. Sure, it’s important to have a great-looking, engaging website, but it’s not worth much if no one will wait for all your snazzy graphics and video content to load up, costing you precious leads.
Your website is one of the first things potential customers will see when they search for your brand. They’ll click through from the search results, or receive a recommendation from a trusted friend, then visit your website, eager to learn more. If your website takes a long time to load, you risk that visitor becoming impatient and looking elsewhere for the help they need.
More people than ever have access to high-speed Internet in today’s modern world. This could be in their home, office, or even on the move through high-speed 4G / 5G connections. While these technological advances have been great in terms of faster access to data, they’ve also changed the online landscape and user expectations.
In our current Instagram, Instacart, and generally “instant” world, users expect to find information quickly. If they’re met with a slow website, it can be a frustrating experience. Plus, it’s an impression that can impact how a user feels about your business and brand.
Additionally, search engine algorithms, like Google, use page load speed as a ranking factor. This means that you may struggle to attract leads through search and lose out to your competitors, partially due to poor website speed.
So What Makes Websites Slow?
The most common causes of a slow website are typically one of three things:
- Poor quality web host – This is one of the areas where the cheaper options do not tend to offer performance benefits. Don’t skimp on web hosting, particularly if your site is a hefty one and you expect lots of visitors.
- Heavy or render-blocking code – Sometimes, sites get bogged down with heavy code, including custom code or code from themes and plugins. Other times, scripts are placed in places that create slower page load times.
- Heavy content – You may have added some content to your website that has unintentionally caused it to slow down. Examples of this include videos or uncompressed images hosted on your server. It’s an easy mistake to make, but it can significantly impact your website.
How To Increase Website Speed
The good news is that all three of the above elements can be resolved. Assuming your website isn’t outdated and in need of a bit of TLC, you should find that resolving any issues will be cost-effective.
The first step you can take is to run a speed test on your site. This is free, and it’s something that you can do yourself.
Test Website Speed
Head over to GTMetrix, enter your website’s URL, and click on the “Test Your Site” button. After a few moments, you’ll be presented with a report that shows your website speed.
Steps To Increase Web Speed
If you see poor results on your GTMetrix test, it’s time to address your web speed and performance. The fixes may be simple, or they might require more extensive backend work with the help of a web developer.
Common solutions include:
- Upgrade your server resources (WPEngine is our fave WordPress web host)
- Set up website caching (WPRocket is a great caching plugin option)
- Use a content delivery network (CDN), like Cloudflare
- Remove unused plugins, themes, content, or code
- Optimize images and use next-gen images, like WebP formats
- Minify, compress, and/or optimize code
- Use inline CSS or defer render-blocking JS, where feasible
Consider hiring a web developer to help with some of the more complex issues (trust us, it’s not as costly or time-consuming as you think!)
Whether you choose to work with a professional or update your website yourself, making sure your website speed is optimal, and your site is generally healthy is essential! Website speed impacts impressions, rankings, and your overall ROI, so it’s worth the time and energy to ensure it’s done right. Godspeed!