A slow-loading website leads to two things: Lost visitors and sinking search engine optimization (SEO). There are hacks for getting the most out of free hosting, but nothing makes lost speed worthwhile. However, it could be a number of factors turning your site into a veritable snail of web presence. There’s a lot you can do about it, and quick action can make the difference between a quality site and one that never gets noticed.
There won’t be any turtles winning the website speed race (Photo: Flickr, Youssef Rahoul).
While you’re looking for tools, technology and tricks for selling products online, don’t forget about one of the basic pillars: Speed. Google researchers have found that people won’t wait longer than the blink of an eye (past what they consider “average”) when using mobile devices to search the web. Every slice of a second counts, and remember that just because your site seems to load quickly on your device, Wi-Fi and browser, that doesn’t make it true for all your users.
Here are a few reasons your site might load slow, and what you can do about it:
- Poor web design
This can mean a lot of things, but it usually means a site that’s just too “busy”. Maybe the images are larger than necessary, there’s invisible text, pop-ups galore or you auto-play videos or music (which is a huge faux pas for more than one reason!). If you have a web designer, make sure they prioritize speed and efficiency. If you’re doing it yourself, it’s time to clean house.
- A low quality web host
There are seemingly endless things your web host can do to increase your speed. If you get complaints about a slow site or notice it yourself, the easiest way to address it is start by calling your web host. There might be a glitch on their end they weren’t aware of, or another tactic they can use to speed things up. However, if they start talking about updating your package, don’t assume it’s an attempt at an easy sale.
- Your server’s oversharing
When your web host recommends upgrading your package, perhaps to an affordable model instead of a free one, they may have a good reason. Chances are you’re using a shared server, which is just what it sounds like. Hosts might cram a bunch of customers like you onto a server to keep costs free or low. Of course, the more people there are using a single resource, the slower it will get. You may have to pay (more) for decent speed.
- Shoddy internet connections
You have no control over the quality of internet connectivity of your users. If they’re using dialup in a rural area, your site won’t be the only one loading slowly. All you can do is speed things up on your end and welcome their comments. Sometimes people complain because they just want to be heard, and you can kindly explain to them why their internet is impacting speed if you wish.
- Lack of mobile readiness or responsive design
If you haven’t made the efforts and changes to embrace responsive design, and perhaps mobile readiness, speed may be the price you pay. After all, if your site isn’t designed to respond on any device, and it’s not ready for mobile usage, you can’t expect it to be a speed demon.
With websites, this is one arena where slow and steady is a losing combination. Pick up the pace and watch the rewards race in.