Speed is king. A slow website drives visitors away. It eats away at their patience, hence forcing them to seek competitor pages (instead of yours).
And it’s not just your visitors who hate slow pages. Search engines despise them too. In fact, if your website is slow, expect it to rank lower than your competition!
Let’s start with defining what a “slow page” is. Slowness is anything that takes 7 seconds or more to load. Now, that might not seem much. But stats show that 1-7 seconds is a lot of time.
Google likes to conduct “web loading speed” studies to check for user habits. And the results for 2017 were quite shocking (source).
It showed that “bounce rates” increased by an average of 113% for 7 second loading times!
That is, the number of people leaving will double for pages that load in 7 or more seconds!
What about lower thresholds?
To be fair, maybe your pages load faster than 7 seconds. Let’s assume they load in 3 seconds. If you refer to the previous study, you’ll find that bounce rates shoot up by 32% for that delay time. That is, you risk losing an extra 1/3 of your traffic.
There are usually two reasons why someone would develop a website. To either attract people to purchase product or persuade them to use your service. In those situations, your revenue is affected by loading speed.
According to a study by Akami, there’s a 3 second rule. That is, 57% of customers will leave a site if it doesn’t load in 3 seconds (source).
That’s just over ½ of your potential sales.
Don’t forget mobile
At least ½ of any business’ consumers come from mobile. (this number is only rising) And ignoring loading speed on those platforms is bound to have disastrous consequences.
That fact was clear as far back as 2013. Statistics from Radware show that mobile cart abandonment rates were up to 97%. And most were caused by loading issues (source).
Now, back then, mobile shopping didn’t account for much of your revenue. But today, the situation is different.
Mobile is how most people view your platform. It’s also how many people make purchases.
Mobile shopping stats
It’s estimated that 35% of online shoppers use mobile exclusively. As for habitual mobile shoppers – those represent 82% of internet users (source).
In essence, mobile is where your revenue is at. And not optimising your loading speed for that platform is a massive loss of business!
Question – why are users Impatient with site loading speeds?
You can attribute that to the drop in “concentration spans” throughout the years.
Information shows that throughout the past two decades, concentration spans have dropped from 12 seconds to only 8 seconds (source).
That’s a 33% drop!
Plus, people’s expectations are changing too. Many years ago, it was normal to wait and be patient with information.
You were OK with taking the time to research, read, collect facts – and drive far to get the books you needed.
But today, consumers feel entitled. Having the internet in their hands has made “quick information” the norm.
Another factor: information type
Remember, we’re talking about WordPress loading speeds. And in general, WordPress sites have a large “competitive obstacle.”
That would be content type.
You see, most WordPress content is in text. And people today lack the attention span to read through large articles and paragraphs.
Instead – they want videos and images. And they’re willing to jump pages, until they find the platforms that provide those.
But aren’t videos slow loading?
Not at all.
If you look at YouTube, you’ll find that buffering speed is “often faster” than playback. That is, a video can load as you consume the content.
But with many WordPress pages, that’s not the case. Sometimes, large articles require massive time to load (especially with long scripts, pop-ups, and other widgets).
A second problem
Videos on WordPress websites are not like videos on YouTube.
Through WordPress, you’re responsible for the hosting packages you choose. And those (to a great degree) define your loading speed.
When you include video as content, you have to test and see whether your website will load them effectively.
And if they don’t – you’re in trouble. This means having to spend more money on hosting just fix your loading speed issues!
How to fix WordPress loading speed problems?
That’s we’ll discuss below.
We have a few adjustments you can make to increase your WordPress site loading speed. Apply them, watch your bounce rates drop, and enjoy more loyal traffic!
First – Find Out Your Website (and Page) Loading Speeds.
You can’t make adjustments blindly. You need to know the loading speed before and after each adjustment you make.
That is, you need a loading speed test tool.
One we recommend is “Is It WP.” This tool lets you measure the loading speed of individual pages.
From there, you can develop a record for each page. You can test the effects of different content sizes, content types, and scripts!
But I have too many pages to test…
If that’s your case, then prioritise.
Start by focusing on your most important static pages. Adjust your home, contact and the about pages.
From there, pick pages to adjust based on the traffic received. Look for pages with the “highest traffic gains,” and adjust those first.
You’re more likely to see better incoming traffic if you focus on popular pages first.
After testing: what do I adjust?
That’ll be our next point…
The Adjustment Checklist.
The following causes are MAJOR contributors to slow pages.
- Hosting packages.
- Lack of caching.
- Non-Optimised Images.
- External Scripts.
- Horrible Plug-ins.
(A) Hosting Packages.
Depending on the service you select, you may pay anywhere from $2 to hundreds of dollars for a hosting package.
The more you pay, the more privileges you get.
But as a rule, the best packages are “dedicated hosting” services. Here, you lease an entire server for yourself, without sharing it with other domains.
This allows you to handle more traffic, while keeping your loading speed top notch.
Obviously, leasing an entire server for yourself is expensive. And we only recommend this for websites that have been running for a long time (possibly a few years), while having lots of content.
Caching is an act where search engines save a copy of your page for faster loading.
When your traffic visits that specific page, the copy is automatically loaded for them.
This saves search engines the effort of going through multiple queries just to load your page – which may increase loading time by a few seconds.
Now, most websites have options that save caches for their pages. But the problem comes when that “cache” is cleared.
Clearing (or deleting cache) comes after website/page adjustments. They’re necessary so that new scripts/edits can load onto a page.
But when done excessively, clearing cache affects your loading speed.
The solution here is to install a caching plug-in for WordPress (such as WP Super Cache). This lets you immediately save new a copy of the newly edited page, letting you clear cache as often as you like!
(C) Image Optimisation.
Large file sizes mean slower loading times.
Image dimensions and format define the file size. Selecting the correct options can significantly increase loading speed.
Now, when it comes to dimensions, this is something you we cannot define for you. The dimensions you pick depend on your niche, content type, and your page layout.
As for format, we recommend PNG or JPEG. Both supply smaller file sizes per image.
Specifically, JPEG works best for minimal file sizes (especially for images that use multiple colours). And PNG works for transparent photos.
(D) External Scripts.
Minimise them as much as possible.
External scripts are mostly placed in header, footer, and the body of scripts.
The majority of external scripts focus on tracking/analytics and adjusting the layout of a page.
Both jobs can be done with clean edits to CSS scripts (for layouts) and well-designed plug-ins (for tracking functions).
Fixing those scripts usually requires the intervention of a web designer (unless you have web coding experience yourself).
A well-known tip for WordPress use is plug-in minimisation. The less plug-ins you use, the faster your website loads.
Here, we recommend finding plug-ins that perform multiple functions. Focus on plug-ins that provide more than 1 service – thus minimising the amount installed!
Also, try to find faster plug-ins. You can usually find those through user reviews on plug-in pages, or blogs that specialise in WordPress tools.
Consider the previous as a list of basic adjustments.
There are many other “minor” changes you can make to improve website loading speed.
We’ll mention them in a future guide – so stay tuned!
If you have any questions or need help making some of these changes, reach out to us at Digital Bond Marketing.