Why Is My Business Site Taking 20 Seconds to Load?
No site should take more than five seconds to load on a fast Internet connection. Every second of loading time means a prospective reader gives up and goes elsewhere. Factors such as slow 3G speeds are beyond your control, but that just increases the importance of doing everything you can to speed up your site.
If your business site is taking 20 seconds to load, then you most certainly have multiple issues. The graphic below is from an article on WordPress performance and speed on SocialNewsDaily and illustrates the below.
There are simple ways to fix most problems without calling in a professional.
Measure Site’s Speed
Start by measuring the extent of the problem. GTmetrix is a fantastic free site to use.
Even popular sites have issues. Once you enter your site’s URL, click on each factor to learn why some have a lower score than others. You want to shoot for an A score across the board.
Keep the screen open and retest your site after any changes have been made.
Browser caching stores the static elements of your page on a user’s machine, so the page loads faster on a second visit. The diagram below is part of an article on improving WordPress performance, and explains the caching process visually.
When you install a caching plugin such as WP Super Cache, it cuts out all the processes inside the ellipse in the diagram above. All of these processes are processor-intensive, so cutting them out will make your site load faster.
A content delivery network (CDN) stores your static site content on its servers around the world. Your site loads faster for three reasons:
- The CDN’s servers are faster than your web host’s
- Most of your web page is delivered from nearby servers, meaning fewer connections and potential bottlenecks
- There is a smaller load on your web host’s servers, so they handle the dynamic data faster
Compare CDNs and find one that suits you here.
Images Not Optimized
Images are often a leading cause of a web page loading slowly. Only use JPGs and avoid using overly high-resolution images. Load the exact size image you require because making WordPress resize your image ‘on the fly’ uses processor power and slows everything down.
Use an image optimization plugin such as EWWW Image Optimizer to compress photos, so they affect load time less. Avoid using too many large photographs on your pages.
Too Many HTTP Calls
Your web page has to call on another site to deliver content every time you link to dynamic content.
Dynamic content includes:
- Social media plugins
- Related posts plugins
Remove irrelevant ads from your business site. You are sending people to your competitors and being paid just a few cents per click. The ads that deliver the occasional 10c click are slowing your site and frustrating would-be customers. Ads also make your site appear unprofessional, and they distract visitors from your content.
Social media plugins are a necessary evil, but some are faster than others. Premium plugins are usually faster than free ones but experiment and check your load speed after installing your preferred plugin.
Avoid related posts plugins because they work by searching your site every time a page loads. Searching for posts with the same words takes time and increases your load time. Add links to related posts manually to help users find them without increasing the load on your server.
Slow Hosting Service
If you use shared web hosting, your server will be slower than if you invest slightly more in VPS hosting.
As the above diagram shows, on a VPS hosting service your data is all together, so server access will be faster than on a shared hosting service.
Throttling is another issue to be aware of. Some web hosts have a policy of slowing down sites that use a significant proportion of server resources.
You may well have unlimited bandwidth and storage, but hosts never tell clients about the limited CPU resources allocated to shared hosting customers. You will rarely be sent an email, but your site will be slowed to a crawl for part of each day.
This post on host throttling gives you a few options you can change to reduce your CPU demands, but you will probably need to switch to a better host or a VPS contract.
Human attention spans are decreasing and nobody wants to wait, so it is imperative to make your content load as quickly as possible.
There are many reasons your site may be slow to load, but a little checking and research will show you how to fix the issues yourself. In most cases improving WordPress speed and performance is something you can do yourself without any cost. Free plugins and CDNs will help you to speed up your site even if host throttling is the issue.
If free solutions fail, then switching to a VPS will always speed up your site, but it will cost more than shared hosting.