They say patience is a virtue. But it’s not one most online visitors possess while waiting for a page on your website to load. Slow website page load speed can mean real trouble for your business. If visitors or potential customers move on out of frustration, you may have lost them – perhaps forever.
David Wallace, co-founder and CEO of SearchRank, explains how increasing your website loading time can be critical to your business:
No matter what kind of sales, promotions or content you have on your site, if the page is not loading fast enough, there’s a good chance that your visitors are going to navigate away and not come back. Businesses that optimize their sites for speed had 17% fewer complaints about response time than companies that did not.
If this seems somewhat harsh, try to see things from a customers perspective. Melissa Fach of SEOAware, LLC explains that customers simply won’t wait for a slow site to load:
Nothing is more irritating than a webpage that loads slow. Tests and studies have found that users typically do not wait for a slow page to load and they leave the site. Every time that happens, businesses lose potential income.
Increase Your Website Page Load Speed
Start With Some Basic Google Resources
Before you do anything else, consider the resousrces of the top search engine on the planet. Google has a vested interest in the performance of all websites on the Internet. Improving the performance of your website and increasing your page load speed will make it easier for Google to search and display. This improves the quality of Google’s main product – quality search results from the Web.
To help webmasters improve page load speed and site performance, Google provides a collection of free “PageSpeed Tools” including a “PageSpeed Insights” test to determine how your site loads on various devices.
Consider a Professional Website Audit
If you suspect your website may be loading too slowly, the next step may be a website audit. Don’t rely on how long it takes a site to load on your own computer. And calling up family and friends to have them check the page load speed on their devices may not be sufficient either.
Fach suggests having a professional audit of your site on a regular basis to make sure it is delivering the service to visitors you expect. This will include checking the time your site takes to load on a variety of different devices.
A good audit can also look at other issues like cross browser performance and how your contact forms and online payment systems are working.
An audit can be a great starting point to determine how your website appears to visitors.
Check for Coding Issues
Another issue is simply whether the site’s cascading style sheets (CSS), used to determine the look and formatting of your page, are externally located or present in the HTML code for your webpages. Fach agrees that bad coding and scripts having to do with displaying webpages are among the most typical culprits for slow loading speed.
With any luck, analyzing your site with some free Google tools like “PageSpeed Insights” will identify these problems with your site.
If you are handy with coding, this may be something you can fix yourself. Otherwise, talk to your Web developer.
Examine Server Issues
Server configuration is another issue that should be checked when investigating slow page load speed, say Fach and Wallace. Servers may be over their capacity or have some other issue affecting how long your site is taking to load.
Once you’ve exhausted possible problems with your website itself discuss the possibility of server problems with your developer.
If, as with most websites today, you use an external hosting company, this will require enlisting their help as well to find the problem.
Optimize Photo and Graphic Files
Believe it or not, one big problem with site loading is so simple and obvious it might be right under your nose. Wallace and Fach both include large image and graphic files as among the top offenders when it comes to slow loading times on your site. Ironically, graphics and photos are also top engagement factors with readers. And search engines favor images in search results.
The trouble is that if the images you use are too large, they may be affecting how fast your page loads. This will not do you any good at all. (Reader’s will never know how great your images and graphics are because they aren’t about to wait around for them to load.)
Look at the sizes of your images. Have you reduced the sizes of graphic files somewhat before uploading them? This simple step will make them easier for your page to display.
Google also provides some basic guidelines for optimizing photos and graphics on your website.
Consider Content Delivery Tools
Finally, slow page load speed won’t just drive away your audience. It may affect your search engine priority, says TJ McCue. Thus it could reduce the number of new visitors coming to your site after finding you in search engine results.
Fortunately, this doesn’t need to happen, McCue says. A variety of content delivery tools are available to speed up your website. There are tools that utilize hundreds of servers to keep your website loading quickly. You’ll also find tools that load portions of your site so they can display even when your main server is down. There are even tools that bundle content delivery with other services like content monetization and digital rights management.
Have you examined the amount of time it takes visitors to be able to view your site? What options have you found most helpful in addressing your site’s page load speed?
Speed Photo via Shutterstock