After putting so much time and effort into your website, it’s discouraging to find out that traffic isn’t flowing to it as it should.
Despite top-notch search engine optimization, social media marketing and the like, your site isn’t generating the attention that it deserves.
One thing that you may be overlooking, however, could be the primary culprit: a slow-loading site.
Slow Load Times Spell Big Trouble for WordPress Sites
53 percent of users abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load—according to research performed by Google.
Every additional two seconds of load time increases the bounce rate by a whopping 103 percent, and every 100 milliseconds of additional load time causes a 7-percent drop in overall conversion rates.
Moreover, slowly loading sites drastically reduce the user experience, or UX, which is so critical to the ongoing success of any site.
Check Load Times with Free Online Speed Tests
How can you be sure that your site is loading slowly enough to negatively impact its success?
Luckily, there are several free tools out there that let you quickly and easily assess page load times. Some of the most popular include:
Top Reasons for Slow Page Load Times
After confirming that your site is loading too slowly via one of the above free online tools, the next step in addressing the problem is identifying the cause – or causes.
Some common culprits for slow website load times include:
1. Lack of a CDN
CDNs, or Content Delivery Networks, promote faster loading pages because they are built up of several servers that are strategically placed in various geographic locations.
Copies of your site’s pages are therefore available across multiple locations and load more quickly for more users.
You can take your pick from many CDNs for WordPress, including Cloudflare.
3. Cluttered Database
Over time, and through the installation and removal of various scripts, plugins, themes and the like, extraneous files start cluttering up a site’s database. In turn, queries to the database take longer, and this causes slower load times.
This can be resolved by optimizing the database through the removal of old logs and other items, and the best way to do so is through the WordPress Command Line Interface or WP-CLI.
4. Caching Issues
Users’ browsers store static copies of your site’s files. Rather than reloading the same content every time they visit, their browsers can display cached information for faster loading.
Things can go wrong with caching, however, and the best way to figure it out is by using a caching plugin for WordPress; WP Super Cache is a good option to try.
5. Bulky Code
The longer and more convoluted the code on your site is, the longer it will take to load. Unnecessary line breaks, extraneous characters, and other clutter can cause load times to slow to a crawl.
To correct this, you will want to minify the code. Fortunately, you don’t have to do this manually.
6. Unoptimized CSS
If the CSS on your WordPress site isn’t properly optimized, it can cause load-time issues.
The easiest way to resolve this is by combining external CSS files into one or just a few files.
7. Problematic Plugins
Plugins are convenient, to be sure, but they can really drag down page load times.
Whether there are simply too many of them or if you’re using very large ones, they all need to be processed and loaded, and that can slow things down.
Some plugins can even interfere with caching, exacerbating the issue.
You can easily determine which ones are to blame with the Proxy Cache Purge plugin for WordPress.
8. Missing Files
Not surprisingly, missing files can throw a major kink in the works when it comes to page loading times.
When browsers can’t find files they are expecting, loading can grind to a halt. Sometimes, even 404 errors can appear.
The simplest way to fix this is by restoring your site from its most recent backup – there are simply too many reasons for files to go missing to bother digging too deeply in most cases.
9. Large Media Files
Videos and images bring a site to life, but they can also do a number on its load times.
You can handily resolve this problem by optimizing media files through compression.
One way to do so is through a free online tool like TinyJPG.
For WordPress, there is also a plugin called Smush Image Compression and Optimization that will make short work of the issue.
10. Poor Server Performance
The server that your site is running on can also be to blame for slow loading times.
In most cases, poor server performance is caused by shoddy web hosting.
For example, shared servers, which often support hundreds of sites, can cause issues.
11. Did You Check Your PC First?
After going through the steps outlined above, it may still seem like your website doesn’t load quickly enough.
In that case, your own PC may be to blame.
Issues with the Windows operating system can make it difficult for your browser to process websites quickly enough.
Fortunately, there are also super useful tools that can help you do a little bit of housekeeping with your Windows PC. Many of them also have diagnostics options to determine what’s slowing down your PC.
Don’t let all of the hard work that you’ve put into your website go to waste. If it isn’t loading within three seconds or less, you are losing traffic, seeing increases in bounce rates and experiencing reduced conversion rates.
Use the advice above to get things moving again – and don’t forget to check if your actual PC is to blame too!
About The Author:
Jen McKenzie is an independent business consultant from New York. She writes extensively on business, education and human resource topics. When Jennifer is not at her desk working, you can usually find her hiking or taking a road trip with her two dogs. You can reach Jennifer @jenmcknzie