Nothing will discourage visitors and kill your search engine ranking like a slow website. Today, people are more impatient than ever and Google gives priority to websites that load quickly. Here we present some of the reasons why your website may not be as fast loading as it could be. Emphasis is on WordPress but the tips can be applied to any site.
Linking to third party external code
This is one of the misunderstood reasons for slow-down of websites. There are common codes added to websites such as analytics, chat boxes, email subscriptions, advertising, etc. The more 3rd party code you add to your site, the more times it has to load that code from those sources. Any issues with network connection at any point between the visitor and your website will slow down the load time.
Images not optimized
It is tempting to simply upload an image from a stock photo library. But more often than not, these images are very large because they are designed for different uses, ranging from Web to print. For the Web they are much larger than necessary and will slow down your website. So you should scale your image and export it using software such as Photoshop. You may even need just a part of the image and not the entire thing. Fortunately, WordPress can create different resolutions for uploaded images, so make sure to use the correct one. But that may not always produce the desired result and in fact may exceed the allowed upload size.
Linking to videos
Videos are great. They enhance the user experience and can be more engaging than text, resulting in longer on page presence which results in better ranking on search engines. However videos can effect bandwidth significantly if they are too long and especially if you host them on your server. Video hosting sites such as YouTube and Vimeo do a great job optimizing videos upon upload. So use a video hosting service. This may sound like it contradicts the first point above. But you must balance the benefits against risk. Also there is evidence that search engines love multimedia content.
Poor hosting service
If your hosting provider does not update the server OS software and if they host many poorly optimized sites then this can significantly affect your site’s performance. Poor hosting services are usually cheap and rely on hosting thousands of users. Many of them are very inexperienced or lazy and make mistakes that can lead to heavy load on the server, a lot of spam, and even hacking attacks such as “Distributed Denial of Service”. Your site can be severely affected and even go down for long periods of time.
Too many plugins
Having too many plugins, especially if some or many are poorly coded, will cause your site to slow down. This is due to lot of additional code to be loaded on each page. Some of that code may not work fully well with the theme and cause errors that may or may not be visible. Additionally they may even create security risks that are known to proficient hackers.
Not all themes are created equal. Just like plugins they can be poorly coded. I don’t recommend using free themes. They don’t go through the rigorous testing and updating as paid themes or have the same real-world usage and customer feedback and support. Paid themes can be very tightly integrated with WordPress. But even there, not all paid themes are equal. Some have a ton of bells and whistles which can make them loaded down and affect site load.