It’s hard to read an SEO article without hearing about responsive (mobile-friendly) websites. But did you know your Google ranking is also based on how fast your website downloads?
"…website loading speed has become one of the biggest determinants of your site’s value and ranking position" Search Engine Journal
Most speed reductions are a bit technical, but no worries. I have your back with one thing you can do on your own if you’re comfortable with WordPress. Or you can ask your web designer or developer to give it a try (keep in mind he/she may already be using other methods).
The Need For Speed
You may not be particularly concerned about Google rankings. However, you may want to make sure people stick around long enough to read your website to potentially become a customer. If your website is taking too long to download, potential clients won’t even stick around to see what your company has to offer.
Curious how your website is doing? Check with Pingdom’s speed tool!
How did you do? I’ll summarize the articles I have read on the topic to give you an idea.
- 1-3 Seconds – Excellent, people will stick around
- 3-4 Seconds – Foot tapping – they are losing patience and some folks have left
- 5+ Seconds – Ciao baby, I have better things to do!
If you were in the three seconds or more category, don’t despair. Here’s one of my tips for tracking down guilty culprits that slow your website.
The Hunt for Slow Plugins!
GoDaddy makes a wonderful plugin for WordPress called P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler). P3 is a simple way to evaluate your plugins in WordPress and how they might be impacting your download speed.
- Once you install this, you can run a scan. It is a bit hidden.
- On the Admin dashboard in your WordPress website, click on the "Tools" tab on the left;
Click on "P3 Plugin Profiler" to display the P3 dashboard;
- Click on the button "Start Scan."
- For your first scan, I recommend "Auto Scan." A window will pop up and show you its progress.
This might take awhile. Once the scan is done, you can look at the results. Although they can be influenced by many factors, it will give you some idea of the plugins you might need to replace or pull from your website.
Analyzing the Results
Okay, you’ve done a scan, and now this lovely pie chart is displayed. Be aware that it’s fairly general. First look at the total time your plugins are taking; if it’s more than one second, you probably need to see which plugin is adding to your time. Remember that three seconds is all you have before "Hasta la vista, baby!"
For specifics, check the "Detailed Breakdown" tab to see if any plugins stand out. Just hovering your mouse over the colored vertical lines will display the plugin name. If one or two plugins are time eaters, do some checking.
Plugin Slow Pokes
Here is a checklist for those with a snail’s pace to get you started.
- Is the plugin up to date? Is it compatible with your version of WordPress?
- Is your plugin configured properly? Something as simple as a plugin trying to connect to an API to a plugin license can send it into a tailspin.
- Visit the WordPress.org reviews. Do people complain the plugin has problems, especially website speed?
- And, of course, Google the plugin’s name along with slow to see what pops up.
When I tested mine, one of my plugins was out of date and no longer maintained. I’m on the hunt for a replacement. See, that wasn’t too technical, was it?
My Plugins are Fine – But My Website is Still Slow!
Egads!! How bad are we talking? Four or five seconds? Do several tests on Pingdom tools; results will vary if you are on a shared web host server. Other culprits are:
- Images not resized for websites (large resolution image used for a small-sized picture, for example, is a frequent mistake);
- Slow web host (the cheaper they are, the slower they are);
- Too many connections to social media. For example, counters on social sharing plugins are known to slow sites.
If this is above your technical level, ask a developer to do a website optimization. I hope these tips help. Speed is very important, so keep in mind you may be losing clients before your site finishes downloading.
Did the P3 Profiler Plugin help you find slow plugins?
Nancy Seeger, the owner of Arts Assistance, believes website design is part of the marketing toolkit that attracts your audience. Their roster of clients includes a Grammy artist, coaches, small businesses and non-profits. Get web design insider tips to more easily manage your website and attract your audience.