You have no doubt read or heard many laments about how we live in a society of instant gratification. We want things to work right away and if we have to wait, we’ll move on. Whether or not you think that’s a bad thing, it’s the expectation that has been set. This desire for fast and instant has an effect on our web browsing habits as anyone who has closed a tab after waiting only a few seconds for a blank page to load can attest.
But, if your website is the backbone of your business, load times and site speed matter quite a bit. The situation goes from feelings of annoyance and impatience to lost sales. Forbes has spotlighted several studies which demonstrate how users and customers respond to site performance. Statistics like a one second delay in load time translates into 11% fewer page views, a 7% decrease in conversions, and a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction. If anything, in the years since these studies, customers have become even less tolerant of slow sites. We also now know that Google does factor in page load times in their ranking algorithm, though not explicitly and the exact mechanisms are rather in depth.
All of this is to say if you’re noticing your site isn’t performing as well as you’d like it to, your first impulse might to be to contact your hosting company to see what’s going on. While it’s true that your server clearly plays a significant role in how a site runs, it’s far from the only contributing factor. In fact, there’s a good chance that what’s causing your site to not run at optimal speeds is something within your control.
Here are ten of the most common reasons why your load times could be slow and what you can do to fix them.
Traffic Levels have Increased Substantially
If you’re currently on a shared hosting plan, this could be the reason why you decide to finally make the switch to a VPS. If your site is taking off to the extent that the amount of traffic coming in is causing performance issues, the only real solution is to upgrade your hosting solution to accommodate it. However, you may not be sure that it is the traffic. To confirm your suspicions, check your visitor numbers in Google Analytics and check your bandwidth usage in cPanel.
Your “Neighbors” are Using More Resources
Typically, if it’s not increased traffic, it’s the other accounts that share your server space that finally convinces you to move on from shared hosting to a VPS. The biggest lure of shared hosting is that it’s cheap. But, much like renting an apartment, the lowered cost comes with the downside of sharing finite resources with all of your neighbors. If another website on the server that your site lives on sees regular spikes in traffic or requires more resources for whatever reason, the performance of your site can be negatively affected.
Your CMS is Outdated
A CMS can sometimes be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it makes updating content pretty much a breeze. On the other hand, it can be the culprit when it comes to performance issues. This can happen for a couple of reasons. It’s your responsibility to do the regular software updates that come out for your CMS. If you’re negligent, not only are you opening yourself up to security issues, but the build you’re using could be less efficient than the latest one. Each update brings bug fixes which improve performance. If it’s not outdated, it could just be your CMS is a more demanding piece of software than you realize. Which brings us to the next point.
Too Many Plugins
Many of the most popular CMSes, like WordPress, derive much of their functionality via plugins. These small modules can help your website accomplish a lot of things, but each one can add a fraction of a second to your load times. Not all plugins are equally sluggish, however, so you may have to do some trial and error to find the plugins that help your site work to your specifications without bogging it down too much. The same can be said for the theme you choose to give your site its appearance.
Redirects Are Out of Control
Sometimes redirects are unavoidable (though you’ll want to use 301s for this) and you need to update the URL for a piece of content that has moved to somewhere else on the site. This is really for the purpose of SEO and so users don’t need to update their bookmarks. Keep in mind that if you’re using redirects, you are essentially giving the directive to have a page load twice before the user reaches their destination.
Images Aren’t Optimized
A lot of sites likely have this issue. There are rarely any scenarios where you need images on your site that are megabytes in size rather than kilobytes. If you’re taking images from your camera or from elsewhere on the web and just inserting them into your content without taking the proper steps to optimize them, you could be adding needlessly to your load time. If you want a comprehensive guide to optimizing your images, check out this guide.
Use Text Rather than Graphics Where Appropriate
To go along with the above point, images take longer to load than text. If you have made the stylistic decision to use images instead of plain text where the latter would suffice, you may want to reconsider. Unless there is a pressing design reason for this, it’s always better to opt for the faster loading text.
Code Isn’t Optimized
Embedded Media from External Sources
The benefit of embedding media on your site that’s actually hosted elsewhere is that you’re using up less space and fewer resources on your server. The downside is you’re at the mercy of that external source. If for some reason that source is having loading problems of its own, your site will suffer as well while it tries to call up the content.
Enable caching through your preferred method so that users are served the cached version of your site for faster load times. This can be done through the .htaccess file or through a plugin if you’re using a CMS that supports such functionality.
If you’re currently experiencing performance issues with your site related to traffic or you know that you’ve outgrown your current hosting solution, it’s time to upgrade. Say goodbye to frustrating shared hosting plans and take advantage of the performance boost of a VPS with KnownHost. Contact us today and our team of experts will help you find the hosting solution that best matches your needs. Partner with a hosting company that will help you achieve your goals and that provides excellent customer service.