Website speed – which is how long it takes from the time someone clicks on a web site to when the website is open and viewable has become important to Google and to Google ranking placement. Google positively rates sites that open in 5 seconds of less.
Website speed while important to the rating and ranking bots is even more important to visitors to your web site. People are becoming a lot more impatient – when they click on a site or a link to a site they expect the site to load and be visible very quickly. If people have to wait too long for a site to open they will just move on to another site particularly if they are looking at a list of site from a search engine.
So how fast is your site – how quickly does it load? How do you know? The first thing to know is you might not be able to tell by using your own computer. There are a lot of variables – such as what browser do you use – Internet Explorer, Fire Fox or Chrome or even something else from a PC and add to those Safari if you use a MAC. Plus your internet connection speed as well as how your personal network actually connect to the internet can make a huge difference. And to make if even more complicated because you have been working on and going to your own site it probably is cached on your computer so what you are seeing is not what first time visitors will be seeing so far as website load times.
There are two tools that can tell you a lot about your website load speed – they each take a bit of study and understanding to translate what they do and what they are telling you.
The first tool is Pingdom you enter you domain and it will come back with several pages of information – It does take some study to begin to understand what that information means. The second one is one of the tools from Google Page Speed Insights – and it will come up with some mobile as well as desktop suggestions. There are probably other tools out there – these are two that I am aware of.
There are a number of things that can affect page speed load time. The most common are loading a video before a web site shows. Often if a video is set to open and play when a site is first clicked on can take a long time and seriously slow down a site. It is better to open the site first and then open a video – there are players that work fairly well with auto playing an intro video. Another thing that typically can slow down a web site is images that are uploaded to WordPress that are too large – if at all possible keep images below 100 kb – and 1080 pixels or less. One of easiest ways to generate web ready images is through either Photoshop – load the image and then save it as web ready – you can easily resize large images and cut down the file size this way – you can also batch process a lot of images to make them web ready with Photoshop (Photoshop Express has this same function) – there are also a number of other tools that can do this – the problem is our digital cameras and phones produce some very large images – (2000, 3000 or more pixels across) that are large files. When you load these large photos into WordPress – there are at least two images produced a medium size and a thumbnail but the images will remain large and therefore slow to load.
Some themes and some plugins can greatly add to load time. It often takes some experimentation to get a WP site to load quickly – the tools can help you pin down at least where to start.
Once you have fixed the images, videos and possibly the theme and or plugins you then might want to try one of the caching programs that are available for WordPress – W3 Total Cache is one of those and WP Super Cache is another – there are other caching programs that also work well.
Sometimes a slow to load web site might be caused by poor hosting – when it comes to hosting your sort of get what you pay for. Most of us use shared hosting mostly because private or controlled hosting is very expensive. There is nothing wrong with shared hosting however the quality of shared hosting does vary not only from individual hosting companies but also from the same hosting company. What shared hosting is your site is shared on a server with other web sites and you have typically no control of who you share with. If you are sharing with a lot of other sites on a single server and or if you are sharing with very heavily used sites it can slow down you site. You can get an idea of who you share sites with by using a tool called Reverse IP which will look up you IP and tell you who else is sharing that same IP – sometimes this tool does not work correctly and may show every site on an entire gateway rather than the sites that are on the same server.
Something to know about servers, hosting and shared hosting is a number of hosting services that used to be very good have greatly gone down in quality, support and service. What is going on in the background and something your web hosting company may not tell you is there is a large conglomerate that has been buying hosting companies. This conglomerate is call EIG or Endurance International Group and has resulted in a number of hosting companies going from being very good all the way down to totally useless. Most EIG purchases hosting companies and then gets rid of most of their support and technical staff or totally takes over the acquired companies. The real disadvantage is you often cannot predict what companies will be taken over. I have a couple of sites that were on Host Gater that quite suddenly became really slow, sites got hacked and HG would not answer the phone, email or chat with out a lot of effort and or wait time and when I could get support they we no longer helpful when in the past HG had been good with support and service. I dropped my HG accounts and switched to Site 5 which initially was a huge improvement -although it cost a lot more than HG – within a few months Site 5 was acquired by EIG – I do not know yet how much this will effect my Site 5 service as the changeover is occurring at this time. Who does EIG own? This list is a few months behind but it does give you an idea. Each of these hosting companies used to be independent companies. There is also some information on none EIG companies on that link.