Someone clicks on your website link and magically they’re transported to your site, right?
Well, no. It’s a lot more complicated than that, with hundreds of requests instantly pinged around the world to bring the text and images to your visitor’s screen.
In fact, there is so much going on in those few short seconds, that there is a LOT that can go wrong – and frequently does.
And a slow website is BAD news for you.
It can cost you thousands of visitors and conversions, not to mention all the lost revenue.
If you’re Amazon, a one second delay can cost $1.6 billion annually.
That’s how much speed matters on the internet.
First, let’s test your website to see how fast it’s loading.
And remember, this is just one snapshot in time. You really should test your site numerous times over the course of a day and even a week to truly get a good look at what’s happening.
Pingdom will test and analyze the load time of your page.
And if you sign up, it will continue to test your site every minute.
Now let’s take a look at what might be slowing your site down.
Slow Server Performance
When someone clicks on your website link, their browser sends a ping to your server. But if your server doesn’t quickly answer that ping, then it will take longer for your site to load.
Cheap hosting usually gives you a shared server, which means you’re sharing space and resources with countless other websites.
If your site is slow, it’s probably waiting in line to get out the door and to your visitor’s screen.
Distant Server Location
Long distance calls take longer to connect because information has to physically travel to get where it’s going.
Think of it moving through cables, transmitting over satellites and so forth.
A similar thing happens when someone clicks on your site.
If your server is based in the US, then when someone in China clicks on your website, the information has to travel halfway around the world to request access to the server, and then your website information has to travel all the way back again to load it to your visitor’s screen.
Honking Big Images and Files
Remember dial-up? Images loaded a bit at a time.
The same thing is still happening today, only faster. If you have a lot of complex files on your page, it’s going to take longer to load than a simple page of plain text.
Pay attention to file formats. Browsers can load GIF, PNG and JPG images quickly, but heavy formats such as BMP and TIFF will take longer.
Yup, if you have a lot of code, your site will be slower.
If you’re using images to display text, your site will be slower.
It’s better to use a regular font whenever possible.
Too Many File Requests
Again, big elements take longer to load. And it’s not just size, but also quantity that matters.
Every image, every social sharing button and every piece of your website requires a different file request to load.
If your page has 50 files and 50 people are trying to load your site at once, that’s 2,500 simultaneous file requests.
You can see why websites crash if traffic gets out of hand.
An Excess of Traffic
You’ve seen this one happen – A lot of traffic is sent to a website, and it slows down. Send enough traffic, and it could crash.
Your server can only handle so many requests at one time. The more requests there are, the slower your website gets.
Yes, it’s tough to be popular.
You walk to the gate at the airport, only to find out the gate has been changed to one on the other side of the airport. So, now you’ve got to walk all the way over there.
A redirect is like that. It’s like loading a page twice, and you want to avoid that whenever possible.
If you’re using WordPress (or Drupal or Wix) to manage your site, then you’ve probably noticed regular popups asking you to install updates or new versions of the software.
Updates are good – kinks have been worked out and speed has often been increased. Be sure to install the latest version of all software and plugins to load your site faster and more smoothly.
Too Many Plugins
This is more stuff that has to be transmitted to get your site to your visitor’s screen, which again will slow things down. Only use plugins you absolutely, positively need.
Bottom Line: 47% of people expect a page to load in 2 seconds or less. If your site is taking longer than that, you’re losing views.