How Slow Websites Cripple Your Business
Website speed can have a major impact on your online presence, here’s how a slow website has the potential to cripple your business. We live in a time of instant gratification. Whatever we want to know, buy or consume is available to us instantly, 24 hours a day.
This need for speed is particularly prominent for websites. Remember the days of plugging directly into the phone line, then waiting 10 minutes for your computer to load and that haunting noise as you literally dial up? They are long gone.
If a website takes more than a few seconds to load now, users will bounce straight off and find a faster alternative. That’s why your websites need to be quick and if it’s not your business will take a hit. A big one at that.
The KIJO experts know all about building websites that are responsive and fast which is why they’ve combined their website knowledge to bring you these tips for ensuring your business isn’t being crippled by a slow website.
The Impact of Slow Loading Websites
If you sit down in a restaurant and encounter slow service, are you likely to leave a good review? No. The same can be said for slow websites.
Your website is your online shop front and just like when you conduct business in-person, you need to be greeting, sign-posting and serving your website visitors quickly and efficiently.
Slow loading websites can have various impacts including:
Loss of Website Traffic
Slow websites are annoying. When you land on a website you want it to load instantly, allowing you to quickly find what you’re looking for.
If a user lands on your website and it takes too long to load they’ll leave, likely never to return and instead seek out your competitor. Much like how you wouldn’t return to that restaurant where the service was slow, users won’t come back to your website if the speed isn’t up to scratch.
A slow loading website can therefore have a major impact on your overall website traffic numbers, leading to less engagement and subsequently less conversions.
Drop in Search Engine Rankings
One of the most important ways you can boost your visitor numbers is through your search engine rankings.
If you can rank highly on the first page of search results for key, relevant search terms, you’ll experience a major increase in relevant traffic to your website.
Major search engines like Google won’t rank a slow loading website though. A fast and responsive website is a major SEO requirement.
So no matter how well you’re targeting your keywords or how strong your backlink profile is, if your website is slow you’re unlikely to ever make the first page of Google results.
High Bounce Rate
Bounce rate refers to the number of users who land on your website and immediately leave it without performing any kind of activity.
A high bounce rate means the majority of users who visit your website are leaving without navigating to another page, clicking CTA buttons or following links.
If a website’s loading speed is too slow, users are much more likely to bounce off. Bounced sessions mean users aren’t engaging with your content and there’s next to no chance of them converting into customers.
In addition to this Google will consider your website to be an unreliable source in its results pages therefore dropping your rankings even further, leading to a decreased number of visitors to your website.
Poor Customer Experience
Thanks to our reliance on the internet and major advances in technology, users are accustomed to getting what they want, when they want it.
With so many websites, online users know that there are always alternatives available, meaning if your user experience doesn’t meet their expectations they can find one that will.
If you experienced slow customer service in real-life you would probably class that as a bad customer experience. Slow loading websites are no different.
If you want to offer customers the very best experience (and we’re presuming you do) then you need to ensure that your website is fast and able to meet their needs straight away.
Website Crashing and Google Manual Actions
We’ll talk more about what causes your site speed to slow down later on but one reason could be that your website has been hit with malicious malware.
If hackers have managed to infiltrate your site and infect it with a virus, your website may slow right down.
If this happens your website may begin crashing, your web hosts may choose to remove it from it’s server and thus the internet or Google could issue you with a penalty that effectively black lists your website from appearing in their search results.
If any of those things happen you’ll experience a major decrease in website traffic and conversions, severely impacting your bottom line and businesses success.
Factors that cripple your Website Speed
If your website takes too long to load, you could be missing out on a major chunk of online business. Below are some of the main factors that can cripple your website speed.
Your Content Management System
A good Content Management System (CMS) is key to a website’s success. Depending on the type of website you run, you’re likely to have one of following CMS’s in place:
- Blogging (often using WordPress)
- Ecommerce (often using Shopify or WordPress)
- Business / Lead Generation (typically WordPress or a custom CMS)
- General Purpose (often using Squarespace or a custom CMS)
Ensuring that your CMS system is the right one for your website’s function is essential. You also need to ensure that you regularly update your CMS.
Just like any online platform or app, your CMS will have regular updates for you to keep on top of. If you’re using an outdated version this can have a major impact on the speed of your website and possibly its security.
Your Web Host
A poor web host can impact various aspects of your website, not least its speed.
When choosing a web hosting provider you should look for one that’s reliable with good reviews, has high-performing servers and is flexible to your needs.
The main reason your web host can slow down your website is often geography. Despite the internet being universal, the location of your hosting servers is important.
For example if your website content (including HTML, CSS and image files) is hosted on one side of the equator, but the majority of your website visitors are located on the other side, you can expect some lag whilst all of the files travel through the network to where they’re needed.
The Amount of DNS Lookups
A DNS lookup is the process of a browser locating your website.
Websites are actually identified via IP addresses however. IP addresses are long numbers that would be almost impossible to remember, hence why we use domain names instead.
When a user types in a domain name, the browser will conduct a DNS lookup to determine which IP address corresponds to that domain name. Clever right?
The problem however comes if your browser has to conduct multiple lookups to load your website.
Usually a website only requires one lookup, but if your webpage features an embedded YouTube video or Twitter feed for example, the browser will need to run DNS lookups for all of those external resources, increasing the amount of time it takes to locate and load your website.
Put simply, the more DNS lookups needed to load your website, the longer it will take.
The Amount of HTTP Requests
In order to present each file on your website to users, browsers will conduct a HTTP request.
Websites are made up of multiple files so if a browser is having to conduct a HTTP request to present every single file to a user, it’s going to take a while.
Think back to that slow restaurant we visited earlier. If you order 10 separate dishes it’s going to take the waiter much longer to serve your order, going back and forth to the kitchen, than it would if you ordered just 1 dish.
Try to keep the amount of files uploaded to your website as low as possible if you don’t want to slow down your loading speed.
Not Using a PHP Accelerator
A PHP accelerator is designed to improve the performances of software and applications that you have running on your website.
The accelerators can boost the speed and performance of your website dramatically and should be an essential part of your website script.
Make sure you check with your web hosting provider to ensure you have one installed on your server.
Compressing images and files is one of those tasks that can feel like a slog. We can bet you’ve wondered in the past if you really need to reduce your file sizes. The answer is yes.
The bigger the file size, the longer it will take to load. Images and videos in particular will often be huge to begin with, which is why compressing them down is so important.
Having multiple large files on your website means that your website speed will slow right down.
Redirects can be super useful. If you’ve moved or deleted a page or have previously linked out to a resource that no longer exists, they can help to reduce the number of broken links (more on those in a moment) on your website.
Add too many redirects however and you’ll end up in a chain of redirects which, you guessed it, will slow down your website.
Each redirect will trigger a HTTP request-response cycle, increasing the amount of time it takes to load your website.
Broken links are hyperlinks that point to pages that no longer exist. Even with the very best content plans, you may still link out to a website that ends up being deleted or moved.
For each hyperlink featured on a webpage, a browser will need to conduct a HTTP request each time a user clicks on the link. These requests will slow down your website and if the links are broken, will be completely pointless.
Not using Browser Caching
Browser caching effectively means that a browser won’t need to fetch every element of your website each time a user visits it.
Instead a browser will save (or cache) static elements such as text, font and images to make the process of accessing the website quicker.
Browser caching saves time as it means that the browser doesn’t need to retrieve every element of your website, helping to speed up the overall load time of your web pages.
Non responsive mobile friendly website design
Websites are no longer just accessed via desktop computers.
More users than ever are using mobile devices to browse the web which means your website needs to be optimised for use on things such as smartphones and tablets.
Think about it, if you’re using your mobile phone to access a website you’re probably on-the-go, meaning you want answers fast.
Websites therefore need to be optimised for mobile, and should be slimmer and more agile than their desktop counterparts.
If your website isn’t correctly optimised for mobile it will take too long to load on mobile devices and users will find a faster alternative.
Bloated Social Sharing Buttons
One of the most popular features of websites today are social sharing buttons, giving users the opportunity to share your website and content directly on their social media platforms.
Whilst this can be a great marketing tool, they could also be slowing the speed of your website right down.
Social sharing buttons can add over 500KB to your website so make sure you’re checking how long they take to load before adding them to every page.
How to Improve your website speed
The good news is that there are various things you can do to help improve your website speed such as:
Testing Your Website Speed
The first step to improving the speed of your website is understanding how fast (or slow) it currently is.
When you test your website’s speed there are various key metrics to pay close attention to. They are:
- Load time – how long it takes for the full web page to appear in a browser, meaning every HTTP request has been completed.
- Page size – the total file size of all of the elements required to load the webpage.
- Time to first byte (TTFB) – the time it takes between the browser requesting a webpage and the very first byte of response arriving.
- Round trip time (RTT) – the time it takes for a round trip to be completed. A round trip begins with a request reaching the server and ends when the device that made the request has launched the webpage.
Switch Hosting Provider
If you want to improve your website speed then switching hosting providers may help.
If you’re currently hosting your website on a shared server you may experience longer load times and more downtime than websites that are hosted on their own individual server.
Although they are more expensive, a managed host means a dedicated server for your website alone, helping to boost your speed and overall performance.
Reduce Plugins and Theme Load Times
Plugins are excellent and can offer you functions and capabilities that would otherwise require extensive and top-level code.
It’s easy therefore to get carried away with installing plugins but the more you have running on your website, the longer it may take to load.
Take stock of the plugins you currently have installed and ensure you are only using ones that are essential. It’s also important to keep them updated regularly.
Similarly ensure any themes that you choose are kept up to date and only install themes from trusted providers.
If you change themes make sure you uninstall the old one to help speed up your loading times.
Invest in Efficient Security
Just like you would invest in security systems for an in-person business location, you should ensure your website security is tight.
Efficient security can help to protect your website from hackers and malware infections, both of which can not only impact your website speed but its overall performance and reputation.
Your website’s speed is one of the most important factors to consider when building, managing and optimising your online presence.
Users are simply not willing to sit around and wait for a website to load anymore and with so much online competition, you need to make sure that your website isn’t getting left behind.
The KIJO experts know only too well how important a fast website is. They know that a slow website can cripple your business and ruin your chances of online success. That’s why our website builds never sacrifice on speed and performance.
Posted on by Jake Bostock