Not only the visitors, even the search engines now hate slow loading pages! Yes, Google has officially acknowledged website performance as a ranking factor. If your website loads slowly, then it’s highly likely that you will find your pages languishing far behind in the search results.
According to Google, a website is deemed ‘admirable’ if the content can load within 1.5 seconds or lesser – any additional second could mean missed opportunities. With that in mind, we have compiled a list of some of the most common root causes that affect the performance of your website. Let’s figure out what might go wrong behind the scene to slow your website down.
- Not Using a CDN Service
Content Delivery Network, abbreviated as CDN, can speed up your website by a considerable margin. A CDN is a distributed network of independent servers deployed at multiple data centers in different geographic locations, that can serve web content to visitors with high availability and high performance. The content of your website, including static web objects (text, graphics and scripts) and downloadable objects (media files, software, documents), are replicated by the CDN on all of their location nodes. Depending upon the geographic location of your visitor, the requested content is served by the server located at the nearest available data center, rather than the main data center of your hosting provider. As a result it minimizes the round-trip-time (RTT) and helps to serve the requested content much faster.
- Unoptimized Images:
While there can be numerous reasons for website slowness, one of the most common culprits for slowing a website down is unoptimized images. Loading high resolution images can cost you lots of bandwidth – causing your website to load slowly. It’s a bad practice to upload large sized images and then scaling them down, as it unnecessarily makes the web page heavy. To keep webpage size in check, make it a point to resize the images appropriately before uploading to your server. Don’t forget about the image format too. PNG or GIF images are much larger in size compared to JPEG images – although there is no visible difference in image quality. So to help the server load your webpages quickly, always prefer to upload JPEG images of appropriate size.
- Excessive HTTP Requests
- Not Making Use of Caching Techniques
Caching technologies can also be a great performance booster. When you implement a caching solution, it allows the server to store frequently accessed data points in the ‘cached memory’. As a result all the future requests for the same data are served from the cache, instead of sending requests to the server again. It eliminates the processing time, thus speeding up data retrieval.
While there are different types of caching solutions available in the market to improve website performance, server-side cache and reverse proxy are the most efficient. Browser caching, HTTP caching and server-side caching are some of the techniques that you can use to great effect. It is also possible to combine multiple caching techniques to extract the most optimal performance out of your server system.
- Unclean Codes
Coding standard matters a lot when it comes to website performance. The size of the web page can grow larger if the code contains too many white spaces, inline stylings, empty new lines and unnecessary comments. You can compress the size by cleaning up those unnecessary elements, thus helping the server to process the code quickly. If you don’t have coding experience, you can make use of online tools to clean and minify your stylesheet files. Taking help from a coding expert can also be a great option.
- Too Many Flash Content
While there is no doubt that Flash is a great tool to give your website an interactive outlook, it might be contributing negatively to your page load speed. Graphical media developed using flash are usually bulky. Hence it causes webpages to grow heavy in size, resulting in higher processing time. For improving the page load speed, it is best to eliminate Flash content altogether. Instead, you can make use of HTML5 alternatives to replace your existing Flash content. In the worst case scenario where you must use Flash, do make a conscious attempt to limit the file size as much as possible.
- Not Utilizing gZIP Compression
gZIP compression is used to reduce the size of data being transferred between your server and the visitors’ browsers, – thus serving (loading) the requested webpage in a quicker time. Enabling gZIP compression directs the server to wrap all the images, CSS and JS files (in the requested URL/Webpage) before they are transferred over the internet to your visitors’ browsers. So employ this technique today to significantly lower the loading times of your webpages.
- Too Many Display Advertisements
Display advertisements are undoubtedly a great website monetizing medium. But are you aware of the fact that having too many ads on your website can drastically reduce the page load speed? Each advertisement block you place on your website generates HTTP request to fetch the content from the ad server. The higher the number of request goes, the greater is the processing time required. So to ensure better website performance, try to limit the number of display advertisements. It’s a good practice to use no more than 3 advertisements in a single web page, while also ensuring that the ads are of good quality.
In this age of ultra-fast internet, there can be no excuse to have a slow loading website. Fast loading websites perform better on all fronts – better user experience, more engagement, higher conversions and even enhanced presence in search rankings. We hope this optimization guide would help you learn some useful techniques to improve website page load speed. Now it’s your turn to put them into practice and experience a significant boost in the performance of your website.