Did you know that the average website takes around 8-11 seconds to load? That sounds pretty quick, right! Unless you realize that most website visitors expect a site to load in a couple of seconds only. Anything longer than 5 seconds, and they’re gone. Website Speed Optimization is the primary feature that sets premium businesses apart and directly impacts the amount of revenue they bring in.
Lightning-fast websites improve user experience and mood, retain them for a longer time, promote users to visit other pages and make them more likely to recommend your site to their friends. Before we examine how to speed up your website, you need to realize the merits of a quicker website and its impact on your business.
How Fast Does My Website Need To Be?
The answer to this question is as fast as you can get it. Google had conducted a study back in 2012 in which they found that anything which took longer than 0.4 seconds to load was enough for people to make them search less.
In 2020, that number is a lot lower than it used to be. It’s no surprise that Google has combined cutting-edge technology and server farms to bring your search results in the blink of an eye.
For individual websites, the competition is cutthroat. With many websites offering similar content online while the quality of the content remains king, Google has incorporated website speed as a marker for managing search results and rankings since 2010. Not only that, but you also lose customers for EVERY SINGLE SECOND your site takes to load.
A popular study by the Aberdeen Group found that a one-second delay in the loading time of a page leads to
- 11% fewer page views
- 16% decrease in customer satisfaction
- 7% loss in conversions
25% of people said that they are not likely to revisit a site that takes longer than 4 seconds to load. A majority of searches on the Internet are carried out on Mobile Phones now, and surveys have found that more than half the people are likely to leave a site that takes longer than 3 seconds to load. That number increases to 74% of mobile users for a page taking five seconds to load.
Your website’s speed and performance are directly linked to the traffic and conversions happening on your site’s pages. Faster sites not only mean that they can process the same number of requests in a shorter time, but people are more likely to recommend the site and stick around longer. A very famous case study was that of Walmart, which saw a 2% increase in its conversions after improving its site speed by just 1 second.
The results of numerous surveys and research papers have shown that website speed dramatically affects the success of an online business. A fast website is one of those things that are essential and whose presence will never be noticed by the user, but its absence can kill your business.
Visitors not only abandon a slow site, but most of them are not likely to revisit your page after a poor initial experience. Thus, a slow website affects conversions and traffic in the short as well as the long-term.
The 5 Big Things that Slow Down A Website.
There are multiple reasons behind a slow response time for your website. Now that you’ve seen the data and statistics and know-how harmful a single-second delay can be, you need to work on resolving the issues that make your website slower. These issues are:-
- Inferior Hosting Provider
- Plugin Overload
- Uncompressed Images
- Outdated PHP & WordPress Versions
- Not Caching or using a CDN
Let’s go through each of these in detail.
Inferior Hosting Provider
Using a slow hosting provider that doesn’t match the traffic coming to your site could be responsible for a slower website. Hosting is the foundation of a WordPress website, and a good host impacts your website’s security and loading time positively.
A cheap hosting provider may be a good fit for your site initially, but as your business grows and your site starts attracting more customers and traffic, you need to move to a premium Hosting Provider and choose a plan which matches your needs.
You might be using a Shared Hosting Provider, which is relatively cheaper, but your site is constantly competing with all the other sites using the same server. A shared hosting platform also leaves your site vulnerable to attack. Consider changing to a premium option like CloudWays or WPX Hosting immediately.
Premium Hosting will pay for itself when you have more traffic coming in, resulting in more conversions and more ad revenue.
Too Many Plugins
One of the best WordPress features is the massive array of plugins supported by platforms. They add additional functionality to your site and help in customizing your site. It is impossible to have a successful WordPress site without having multiple plugins activated.
Because most plugins are free, a new user is easily tempted to install and try out many plugins at once. In the future, they may forget about these unnecessary plugins, and they may keep running on the website’s backend. Additional plugins slow down your WordPress website.
A healthy number of plugins depending on your site’s size and traffic is usually between 5 to 10. You can go to the Plugins section of your WordPress Dashboard and start deactivating any additional plugins that are not necessary. Your website speed will have an immediate boost.
It is also important to use high-quality plugins from established developers and companies. Even if they are slightly larger, they are better optimized and provide greater functionality to your WordPress site.
Images Are Not Compressed
Images are an essential part of your website’s content. They make articles visually appealing and more presentable to readers. But it is important to keep the size of the images you’re using in mind.
The Dots Per Inch or DPI of an image also needs to be kept in check and help resize the image. A DPI of 72 is generally used for images being published on websites.
There are many plugins and software applications available that help in resizing images and optimizing them, so your site loads faster. Softwares like ShortPixel and TinyPNG employ the Lossless Conversion technique, in which the image size is reduced without a loss in the quality. They can also be incorporated into your website’s pages.
Outdated PHP & WordPress Versions
PHP is the underlying programming language on which WordPress runs. All WordPress plugins and themes quietly run and execute PHP scripts on the backend of your website. Around 64% of WordPress sites are currently using a PHP version that is not supported. The website owners are either ignorant about the latest PHP versions on the market or not willing to spend their time and resources towards a major upgrade.
WordPress has been pushing for sites to update their PHP versions for the past two years. The latest PHP version PHP 7.4 is almost twice as fast as PHP 5.6 or PHP 7.0. You can easily increase your website’s speed by 50% by updating it to the latest PHP version.
Using a PHP version that has reached its End Of Life also leaves your site open to many security vulnerabilities. WordPress has already bumped up the minimum PHP requirement to 7.1 so that websites can perform better and be safer. Using the latest PHP version is an easy way to boost your website’s speed.
Not Using Caching or a CDN
When a visitor clicks on a link to your site, the browser sends a request to your server to retrieve all of its images and content. Caching allows you to store static copies of your website on a server to be loaded faster on a browser window.
You can also opt to use a Content Delivery Network or a CDN, which will help if your site has a global audience. A Content Delivery Network has server farms that are placed strategically in various cities around the globe. You can store your website’s data on these servers, and whenever a visitor logs on, the server closest to him is used to process his requests.
A CDN reduces the physical distance between your website’s server and the user and reduces your website’s server load. A plugin like W3 Total Cache can be used for caching your website, while CDNs like Cloudflare provide multiple plans according to your needs.
An Observation: How did the BBC Build Such a Huge Website that’s so Fast?
The BBC has been a pioneer in optimizing news and important events for millions of global users tuning in online; it has moved with the times to establish a website that delivers breaking news to viewers every morning. With millions of people visiting the BBC every day, it’s a wonder that the site doesn’t crash and loads in a split of a second every time.
Let us examine how the BBC built a premium site that can handle millions of users from around the globe.
- A website cache is the most important and basic step towards building a fast website. A cache stores copies of data from web pages that a user visits more often and can reproduce that data faster and by using minimum requests from the server.This reduces the load on the server and allows it to handle multiple requests simultaneously.
- But a cache is only good enough for a specific user. So combine the caching practice with a global Content Delivery System that allows users to access your website from a server located closest to them geographically. A CDN reduces the physical distance between a user and the server and this helps in reducing the load in the website’s server as well as delivering fast content to the users.
- One key thing that the BBC has done, is prioritizing the elements of their web pages that load first. Considering that time is money, if the BBC site is loading slowly, they have ensured that the content loads first and unnecessary images, internal links, and promo boxes later. These are elements that are heavy on the server and by ensuring that they load later, you can get the content to the visitor without compromising in speed.
These practices ensure that when there is a massive surge in traffic such as during a live sports event or a natural disaster, BBC visitors can log on to the site in milliseconds and follow the latest developments as they unfold. The risk of a server crash has been minimized and the BBC website can handle more than 10 million viewers simultaneously.
Checklist to Speed Up Your Website in 2020
It is clear that faster sites mean more traffic and revenue. They are also the differentiating factor between you and your competitors, and a well-optimized site also ranks higher in Google Search. The following checklist contains the best ways to speed up your WordPress Website:-
- Using a Premium Hosting Service for your Website.
- Uninstalling unnecessary plugins from your Website.
- Compressing Images used on the Website.
- Keeping the Core WordPress and PHP versions updated.
- Using Caching and a CDN network.
Hopefully, after you take the necessary measures and follow the measures listed in the checklist, you will notice a massive improvement in your website’s speed and a boost in its performance. Remember that having the best content is useless if you cannot get it to the users quickly. And shaving off a single second from your website’s response time has a big impact on your traffic and revenue.
The bottom line is that a faster site means happier customers and more money coming in. Follow the checklist by WP Uber and make sure you follow us and subscribe for more interesting articles and updates.