COVID-19 has been an interesting time for business owners—almost overnight, your business went from connecting with customers and meeting new prospects in person to figuring out how to make those same quality connections remotely.
If your business was forward thinking enough to value having an online presence, you’re at least ahead of the curve compared to many business owners on the Eastern Shore.
In fact, if this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that business depends on technology to do most of the heavy lifting—or, at least, it should.
So, let me ask you—how’s your website performing during this pandemic?
I’ve compiled five of the most common reasons that your business website may be failing you when it comes to the speed of which your website is loading for visitors.
Who even cares if my website loads slowly?
Um, your visitors do.., and, depending on your product or service, probably your customers.
So, while COVID-19 has slowed the paced of business down a bit—People still move at breakneck speed these days. There are many reasons for this–not the least of which is the Internet.
With so much information available so quickly, we’ve lost our ability to be patient.
Did you know that if a website hasn’t captured a person’s attention in less than a minute, they’ll probably leave? If your website loads slowly, that means you’re wasting precious seconds that you could be using to gain a customer.
Here are a few possible reasons why your WordPress site is slow. Fix these issues and see how your load speed improves.
Too Many Plugins
As with all things in life, it’s good to have a bit of balance when it comes to the number of plugins you rely on for your website. In fact, this is probably one of the primary culprits that I see over and over again.
Plugins are great for doing a lot of things on your WordPress site—Just be sure not to get too carried away. With over 54,000 free WordPress plugins available on the official plugin repository, it can be tempting to just install a plugin to handle a simple task. However, you’re likely sacrificing precious page load speed as an offset to “saving a few minutes”, rather than handling the task manually.
Many will argue what the right number of plugins should be for a website—truth be told, as a WordPress developer, I have come to the notion that it isn’t really about the number of recommended plugins, but rather the quality of the plugins you’re installing.
Take a moment and think about it like this:
Every plugin you install on your site has to load with every page. If you have a handful of plugins that are optimizing and running well… but then decide to install a single plugin that’s poorly developed—you’ve just introduced to your website a number of problems. One of which is probably a slower loading website, but secondly, possible compatibility and security vulnerabilities.
With Google factoring load speed into your overall SEO ranking, this alone makes it worthy of attention.
Before installing a plugin, always ask yourself if it is really necessary and beneficial to your site. Many plugins can be avoided altogether, and you can get the same benefit from a bit of code (Reach out to me if you run into an issue!)
Shared hosting is exactly what it sounds like. You share your host with other websites. That means that yours is just one of many websites fighting to make use of the same resources.
In the beginning, that might not be so bad. The inexpensive price tag makes shared hosting a good option. But, as your traffic increases you may find that your website starts to lag. An expensive dedicated hosting plan might not be that expensive when you factor in lost sales due to a slow website.
With many businesses now relying on their websites as their single source of interfacing with potential and existing clients, you’ve likely noticed a decrease to your website performance if you’re on a shared hosting platform (especially those cheap, crappy ones—you know who they are…).
Personally, I prefer having complete control over a development environment and lean towards a dedicated VPS (Virtual Private Server), but that’s often overkill for what most small businesses need for their website.
Make a cost effective decision that gives your business a good balance between the two scenarios.
Not Optimizing Images
If I had a penny for every image I had to resize for a client over the last decade that they uploaded to their business website I’d be a billionaire sitting on a nice beach somewhere, sipping a tequila with a cute pink umbrella (actually, probably more like a vodka—but tequila seems to paint the picture a little better 😆).
Here’s the deal, no modern website requires a billboard photo size added to it. One, you’re likely running into layout issues when accounting for viewport sizes (ie. responsive layouts between desktop, mobile, tablet, etc.). Second, they slow your website waaaaaaaay down because now your site has to wait for those assets to load. Images tend to come with large files sizes. This will slow down your website’s ability to load effectively.
Sure, us developers have some tricks up our sleeves to help delay those assets to ensure the website begins to load on the user side as quickly as possible. However, it’s still highly recommended that you spend 2 minutes more and just resize your image for the maximum intended size for the website.
If you don’t know how to go about that, send me a message. I’ll walk you through it!
Always optimize your images by reducing file size before uploading. They don’t need to be print-ready to show up great on a web page.
One of the easiest ways to reduce file size is to convert it from 300 DPI to 72 DPI. This will dramatically reduce the size of the file AND the dimensions. Then, simply resize it the appropriate size for your intended use.
Not Updating Regularly
So here’s the thing about WordPress—while it’s an AMAZING content management system, it does require that you stay on top of updating it’s core files. There’s obviously a mile long list of reasons why keeping your website up to date is not only great for page load speed, it also keeps security vulnerabilities patched, which lowers the chance of your website from being hijacked by hackers (among many of things!).
By default, WordPress is pretty good about automatically updating itself for minor patch updates. However, full version releases often have to be manually updated, even if it’s just pushing a button to make it happen. The reason? These full versioning updates contain major changes to the code within the framework and the possibility of breaking your website or causing plugin compatibility issues is much, much greater.
Therefore, it’s recommended to update your WordPress core, as well as your plugins, regularly. This will make sure that you get all the wonderful security updates and feature enhancements that the awesome WordPress developers release, but also get patch updates for the plugins to ensure everything is running smoothly for the website.
So definitely take advantage of those updates.
If you don’t, you will be missing out on any fixes they’ve come up with for kinks or problems. This includes issues that are slowing down your site.
Not Installing a Cache Plugin
Do yourself a favor and make room for one additional plugin that is guaranteed to increase the page load speed for your business website—download a caching plugin!
There are a TON on the market that are free for use, with premium packages for enhanced features.
A few of my favorites are WP Rocket, W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache. However, there are plenty on the WordPress repository to choose from. Most have quick start settings to help you set them up, even if you aren’t an experienced website developer.
Website optimization is probably one of my FAVORITE things to do for businesses because you get to see the results almost immediately. Use a tool like Pingdom or Google’s Page Speed to easily test the load time of your website. It’ll give you a grading scale and help you visually see how your improvements make a huge difference in your page load speed for your website visitors!
Need Some Help Optimizing Your Business WordPress Website?
Optimizing your business WordPress website is vital to your Google ranking, but also to helping you connect with customers and prospects online during COVID-19.
If you need some help, send me a message to see how I can help your business!