One of the key factors that Google has acknowledged as part of their calculation to rank websites in their search results page is how fast a site loads. Additionally, from a user standpoint, which Google bases many of its algorithms upon, the faster a web page loads the more likely a user is to interact with the site. As you can imagine, if a site takes 5 seconds to load every page, a user is not likely going to continue to wait for new content and will simply seek the information or application somewhere else. In fact, there is a direct correlation to slow loading pages and the increased percent of visitors to a page that exit the website. As evidence of this fact, a study by Akami found that around three-quarters of web users would not return to a website if, in their experience, it took longer than four seconds to load.
If you would like to get an idea of how slow or fast your website loads both for mobile and desktop use versus that of your competitors, check out Google’s page speed test. Google will even give you a few suggestions of things you can do to improve your web page loading speed.
In addition to the technical suggestions Google provides, there are some obvious techniques that have been discussed ad nosism on all the major SEO forums, such as reducing the size of your images and video or use a hosting company with more robust bandwidth. However, I want to discuss an often overlooked but so simple tactic for WordPress, edit your plugin strategy.
WordPress is a great platform for functionality because of the use of so many free plugins that allow users to add rich features to their site such as maps, contact forms, e-commerce solutions and so many others. However, often a website owner will download many of these plugins, activate them and never use them. In other situations, the plugins will be activated but the functionality provided will not really benefit the user and as such, every time their web page loads, the server needs to process a whole bunch of useless code that slows down a site.
There is a simple solution to this, which is to conduct an audit of your website plugins and determine first, if there are plugins that you are not even using. If this is the case, you can deactivate them and or delete them from your server. You also can search the WordPress plugin directory to find plugins that may provide the same functionality to are much more efficient, for example a caching plugin such as swiftlite works very well. Finally, you want to analyze whether the plugin is really helping you, or if it is simply slowing down your page.
One way to determine how much time it takes to load a page per plugin is to simply deactivate each plugin individually, then run the Google Seed test and see if there is an increase in speed. If you have a plugin that provides functionality that you really need, you can always download 2 or 3 others that do the same thing and test your page loading speed with each and then test the functionality as well to see what makes the best user experience.
If you would like more information about how to better optimize your website don’t be shy and give us a call today.