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A 2006 study showed that 75% of people will not go back to a website that takes longer than 4 seconds to load. A 2009 study showed that almost 50% of people expect a page to load in less than 2 seconds.* Simply put, your website’s loading speed can completely scare off your audience.
Google Hates Slow Sites
Besides losing your “return” visitors, you might also be losing your search engine ranking because of slow website loading speed. Google has claimed that they are obsessed with site speed. This factor plays a role in the ranking algorithm. Google take site speed so seriously, they actually built a tool to help you analyze your website: PageSpeed Insights. I also like GTmetrix for calculating my site’s speed.
A few weeks ago I noticed that one of my sites was stuck on Google’s 6th page for a little too long. This is when I decided spending a few hours analyzing and fixing my website to make it faster. I was able to reduce my website load time from 6-8 seconds to 3-4 seconds. A week after this “procedure” my website jumped to the 3rd page. Coincidence?
How to Fix a Slow Site?
Fortunately most website speed tools actually tell us what’s wrong with the site and what slows it down. Unfortunately most of this lingo is very technical. I am not the most technical guy out there and although I do understand what needs fixing, I don’t necessarily know how to do it.
If you are using WordPress then you can speed up your site without getting into programming and coding. Here is what I used to make my site faster.
1. WP Smush.it Plugin
If your WordPress website has a lot of images, you might want to re-size them. Wp Smush It will help you re-size all of the images in a batch and only with few clicks.
Also make sure that ALL images are actually hosted on your site. Linking to images from other sites might seriously slow down your own site.
2. Quick Cache Plugin
This caching plug-in seems to be the most recommended one for WordPress. Quick Cache creates a cached version of your site which increases the site’s speed. In short, this plugin “remembers” the elements of your site that were already loaded by visitors, so it doesn’t re-load them again. It just pulls these elements from “history”. Something like that.
3. Disable and Delete all plug-ins that you aren’t using. Even de-activated plugins might be conflicting with some elements on your site. Make sure to delete all unused plugins. Some plugins might add a cool photo gallery to your site but they also might slow it down. Use as few plugins as possible.
Tip: This might sound like a contradiction (because I keep saying delete all plug-ins), I would recommend installing the P3 plugin, temporarily. This plugin will analyze your installed plugins and let you know which plugin might be slowing your site. Once you finished the test, de-activate and delete this P3 as well.
4. Get rid of pop-ups. You might think that forcing an opt-in pop-up window to your visitor is a great idea but it actually slows down your site (besides being annoying). Many ads will also slow down your site. Make your WordPress installation as clean as possible.
5. Get rid of Flash. We are in 2014 and you shouldn’t use flash elements on your website. I think that Flash’s only goal is to make your website slow. Besides reducing the speed, Flash is also unreadable by the search engines. Remember that flash does not any value to your site.
6. Change Your Hosting Provider. In many cases your site might be slow because of your hosting provider. You will have to do more research to make sure your host is causing slow speeds. If that’s the case, run away from your host as soon as possible. I have had a problem with that and I will be making a separate blog post about it some other day.
Once you have gone through all the steps, run your site through a speed test once again and see if it’s faster.
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