How to Diagnose and Fix a Slow Website

improve-website-speed

Are you losing business because you’ve got a slow website?

Slow loading websites have a major impact on user retention.

one-second delay can reduce page views by up to eleven per cent. That delay also sees a customer satisfaction drop by sixteen per cent. And conversion rates fall by seven per cent.

For mobile users, loading times become an even bigger issue.

In a study by Google, they found that as load times increase the probability of bounce rates rises by 123%. Over 70% of websites surveyed took more than 5 seconds for mobile content to load.

My website is very slow so what do I do about it? 

This article will help diagnose and fix the major elements that contribute to website slow response times. We look at file compression, browser cache, lazy loading, and combining data.

You’ll also discover how a site audit can help determine why your site is slow. And create a plan to make it fast and Google-friendly.

Diagnosing a Slow Website

How do you know if your website is slow to load?

Unless you drum your fingers on the desk waiting for something to appear, you might not realise your site is slow. But Google does. And the search engine giant uses page load times as a factor when ranking results.

You can get your site crawled and page speed reviewed for free using a number of insightful tools

 

These tools analyse the given page and score them in their systems, usually out of 1-100. The goal is to reach the green zone in most of the tools and apply fixes to items addressed in each of the reports.

Metrics include:

  • First Contentful Paint – how long the first piece of content takes to appear
  • Time to Interactive – delay until whole-page interactivity
  • Speed Index – how quickly content appears on-screen
  • Total Blocking Time – delay between first paint and interactivity
  • Largest Contentful Paint – delay in the biggest image/content appearing
  • Cumulative Layout Shift – when everything finally settles on the screen


If all those terms mean little just focus on the overall score. That’s your baseline. Anything orange or red and your site needs to work faster.

It is worth noting that Google Page Speed Insights results sometimes have to be ‘loosely’ looked at. Your website may load the content quickly which will help provide awesome user experience but there may be scripts and code in the back of the site loading slower that may give the impression that page speed insights is poor but the site can still rank well. For this reason Page Speed Insights results can be a little misleading and one of the reasons we suggest to view speed across all of the speed tools mentioned.

Examples of sites that may look poor with page speed insights include:

  • virginmedia.com (10 out of 100)
  • bbc.co.uk (11 out of 100)
  • moz.com (37 out of 100)
  • lloydsbank.com (22 out of 100)
  • tesco.com (28 out of 100)

I think you get the point…

 But how do you fix a slow website?

virginmedia-slow

Fixing a Slow Website

The rest of this article deals with a common request: check why my website is slow.

We examine 5 ways your site can improve loading times and interactivity. Even if you aren’t technically-minded you’ll discover common themes. For further answers, read our FAQs page.

Combine Files to Reduce Requests

When a visitor first comes to your landing page they need to download the HTML document, JavaScript files, stylesheets, and images.

Nothing works until these elements arrive on the browser which then interprets them and displays them on-screen. Depending on the scale of your site, this could be as many as 20-30 components which take roughly 2-3 seconds to download.

The secret to faster speeds is to combine elements.

Instead of hosting ten separate JavaScript files, turn them into one minified document. Use sprite sheets for icons that put dozens of images on one file. Remove non-required space in your HTML code like line breaks and indentation.

If none of that makes sense and you have a WordPress site, let the plugins do the hard work for you.

WP Rocket automatically optimises the files on your site. It covers many of the tips given in this article and can speed up your site considerably.

You or your site designer install it using your WordPress dashboard and it goes to work. It covers everything from compression, combining, and caching. It’s not free but the licence fee’s small and well worth the price.

File and Image Compression

Compression removes unneeded content in your files to produce a lean, mean and faster alternative to boost speeds.

Minifying JavaScript files can see them reduce by an average of 60%. Free tools like javascript-minifier.com see you copy/paste content to return a slimmer version.

Enabling Gzip compression by default also has major speed advantages.

Your web server automatically crunches content into tiny chunks before sending it to the browser. This results in snappy loading times and more than 90% of modern browsers can use it.

High-resolution images aren’t suited for websites so optimise them into a smaller web format..

Use the JPG format instead of PNG for photographs and reduce the image dimensions if they aren’t needed. Even better, make smaller versions for mobile devices that load like lightning!

Lazy Loading

My website loads slow because I’ve lots of images.

If that’s something you can relate to then consider lazy loading.

The technique only loads the images the user can see on the screen and nothing else. As they scroll down, Ajax fetches the next batch, but only those the user will view.

The new version of WordPress (release 5.5) now comes with lazy loading as standard.

Once you update you’ll see a marked increase in speed. That’s great for landing pages but also image galleries and photo-heavy sites.

Better Website Hosting

If your site is optimised to the hilt but still performs like a tortoise then consider your website host.

Many shared hosting solutions split their bandwidth between hundreds of users. That means the speed drops to the average and if one site decides to break then everyone becomes affected.

Premium hosting offers a premium service.

At RAD SEO we can give guidance on the best hosting providers. With eight years of experience, we’ll offer a list of who best to use for your business website.

Browser Cache

A cache is a saved version of your website files. It’s stored in your visitors’ browsers and it can speed up their experience considerably.

WordPress users can enable and optimize caching through plugins like W3 Total Cache.

Once installed, go to ‘General Settings’ then ‘Page Cache’ and choose the Enable option. Do the same under ‘Browser Cache’ and if you’re on a VPS or dedicated server host, also enable ‘Object Cache’.

The plugin states you’ll see an x10 improvement in the PageSpeed results. And savings of 80% on bandwidth!

Eradicate Slow Websites With RAD SEO

At RAD SEO we say no more slow websites.

As SEO experts, we understand the importance of speed as well as two hundred+ other factors Google uses to rank websites.

Our goal is to make sure all of our customers maximise their search engine visibility and increase traffic. And ultimately convert those visitors into paying customers.

If your business site is sluggish and doesn’t rank well on Google then something needs to change.

The first step is a deep-dive SEO audit to determine how well your site is performing. Then together we will create the right plan to increase your site speed and optimise it for your chosen keywords.

Contact us today to discuss how we can improve your website performance and grow your Google’s ranking. And of course, say no more to slow websites.

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