Is Your Website’s Page Speed and Load Time Killing Your Traffic?

"Bitly timer"The time it takes to load your website can kill your flow of traffic. Those of you who visit regularly may have experienced my site loading as slow as molasses in the past couple of months.

But did you notice you were able to access my site more quickly on this visit?

I Have a New Server

That’s because I’ve changed servers. After four years with Hostgator, I’ve switched to A2 Hosting. Hostgator’s servers had the annoying problem of being down from time to time, and their servers are overloaded, in my view, causing a loss of page speed.

It was disheatening to see their service deteriorate so quickly after they were acquired by EIG, which is gobbling up server companies. Now half the world, it seems, is hosted on a huge server farm in Utah.

There are many causes of slow load time, of course, not just the problems of your host company. The browser someone uses also influences load times as does peak traffic periods for Internet traffic and deficiencies in your own website.

I’m not getting too cocky because I still need to improve the page speed and load time of my website across all channels – computer, smart phones, and tablets, as you’ll see in this graphic.

Screen Shot 2013-10-10 at 5.30.17 PM

Visitors want your website to be user friendly. If you’ve not optimized your site for mobile yet, take a minute and try accessing your site on your own smart phone or tablet right now. Your site will be almost unreadable. That will also cause people to leave.

There are two ways you can create a mobile view of your website. One is by using a website template with responsive design. Responsive websites automatically reorganize content according to the device viewing them.

If your website isn’t responsively designed then third party hosts such as DudaMobile will organize your site for mobile viewing, although there is a monthly charge.

Check Your Speed

A growing number of people are accessing the Internet on hand-held devices so if your website is not optimized for mobile viewing you are going to start losing traffic. To check your load time, visit Google PageSpeed Insights.

Other sites will also analyze your page speed and send you notifications when something goes wrong. You can also get a free analysis at sites such as WebSiteOptimation.com. They gave me an F (ugh!) but also excellent recommendations for fixes.

Let’s face it, though. Google’s page speed insights are what count. Google is the elephant in the room crawling your site and your ranking will suffer if you don’t improve your website’s response time.

I personally think there are just so many websites out there now that the server community can’t keep up with the demand. The Internet is on information overload.

I’m working with my webmaster to implement changes that will speed things up. What have you done about your website’s page speed and load time? Please share what’s worked for you in the comment box below.

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Comments

  1. Very interesting. Certainly something I’ve paid attention to. Interesting to see the delta between mobile and desktop performance which is considerable. Since I’ve had people tell me that they are reading my posts on an iPhone I guess I need to pay attention.

    I wish that these sites would publish norms or benchmarks or performance targets. Hard to know how hard to push or what to spend without some context.

    For your readers with WordPress sites might like WordPress Plugin Performance Profiler (P3) which shows the impact on performance each plug in has. This is another thing to keep track of – best to deactivate and remove plugins that are no longer being used.

    • ck — I purposely didn’t include “ideal” speed times because there doesn’t seem to much agreement on that. It’s like the Supreme Court justice who said he couldn’t define pornography but knows it when he sees it. You know a site is too slow when you grow impatient and hop off. Thanks for the tip about WordPress Plugin Performance Profiler (P3). I use that plugin.

  2. When I clicked on that link you gave us Jeannette, it loaded your website speed up. And in doing that, before I moved on thinking I misread something, it seems that the speed is variable because your desktop was less than the 68 you showed her. So I think this is one of those – it depends scenarios!

    What I did like about it once I loaded up my own website is that it actually suggests what you can do to speed things up.

    My webmaster is ALWAYS after me to keep my plug-ins at a minimum, and be conscious about the size of my images. I am going to email her the results I saw here so she can continue to – translate things into plain English for me!

    Valuable info – thanks.

    • Pat — I also emailed the results to my webmaster. He’s always after me to reduce my plug-ins, too. That’s the first thing A2 hosting also advises. I have reduced mine quite a bit and disabled certain ones and turn them on when I need them.

  3. The one thing I need to fix is my image sizes and I liked the 2 links you provided Jeannette. What I have found is my site speed changes which is annoying. Today I did the Google test and while not great it was in high 70s for mobile and 90 for desktop.

    • Susan — I’m going to reduce my image sizes, too. I think that’s one of my issues. But you really can’t complain about 90 for your desktop load time. Mine isn’t near that. Just gotta keep trying!

  4. Jeannette — I have always been concerned about load time. Thank you for the link. I was pleasantly surprised to see that website actually loaded faster than my competitors. When doing a fancy website the biggest problem is the use of javascript. I have tried to compress my images which I guess is always a good thing to do.

    You always have great ideas. Thank you for sharing. I have bookmarked your site.

    • Thanks, Arleen. Yes, javascript is one of my problems, too, which my webmaster is addressing. Problem is, javascript is built into some templates so it’s not an easy fix.

  5. Thanks for letting us know that you moved to A2 Hosting Jeannette. I’m always interested in hearing of website hosting options that aren’t part of the EIG group.

    I really appreciate the link to Google PageSpeed insights. It’s been a couple of months since I’ve checked my load times with Pingdom. What I find is that load time is a moving target. I just tested my site and the load time was 2.94s. I waited a few seconds and when I tested it again, it was 1.83.

    The Google insights provided different information along with a couple of suggestions that I can implement. I still need to address the responsive design issue on my site. What I probably should do is rebuild my site with another theme. Thanks for the timely reminder.

    • Sherryl — a lot of things affect load time, so you’ve got to look at the averages. Regarding setting up your site for mobile viewing, you might try a third-party host in the interim before you rebuild your site.

  6. Speed is something I rarely have to worry about. My hosting firm is Cartika. Been with them for years.

    I also optimize all my images so they don’t slow down the load time.

    • Cheryl — I didn’t now about Cartika. I’ll have to check them out. I’m also now optimizing my images. Also need to rectify a few other problems but I’m getting there.

  7. I am switching my site to be self-hosted and one of the first things I asked for was that it be responsive for all devices. The speed of loading is something I’ll have to follow up on too.:) Great ideas.

    • Debra — If I were changing to a new template I would also get one that had responsive design. However, I’m also happy with DudaMobile.

  8. Noticed the difference in how fast your site opens up, Jeannette. Glad you changed hosting because it’s a huge improvement.

    When I checked my sites on Google PageSpeed, it says backend error. So I checked on another site and it says my blog is faster than 38% of websites. My Swedish website however, is faster than 49% of all tested websites. Clearly shows what a difference it makes how much content we have on our sites. Not to mention pictures and videos.

    • Catarina — Images and videos can really slow down your site. My webmaster installed the EWWW Image Optimizer plugin to compress images so they would load faster. My page speed still isn’t what I’d hope for. Strangely, though, my mobile view website is loading much more quickly since I changed servers. All a mystery to me.

  9. As always, thinks for the test links. I switched my hosting from GoDaddy to BlueHost awhile back because GoDaddy had lots of server connectivity issues. I’m still finding my site loading time isn’t tops with BlueHost either, but it’s still better than it was in the past. Now if I only had a webmaster to help me out…

    • Jeri — I had always heard bad things about GoDaddy’s service. BlueHost has always had a good reputation but now EIG owns them, too, so I hope their service doesn’t deteriorate, too.

      • Your post prompted me to finally break down and try a new blog theme. I’d wanted to for quite some time, so hours and hours later it’s finally looking okay and the page does load faster too.

        • Jeri — so glad you were successful. I wouldn’t have the courage to attempt transferring to a new template on my own. Congratulations. Glad your page speed has improved.

    • Leora — A2 hosting was recommended by my webmaster. I did some research, too. Of importance, A2 offers 24/7 phone support. Not all host companies do that and it was important to me. So far, so good.

  10. Thanks for this post, Jeannette. I am with HG and agree that there have been problems. I may look at switching when it’s time to renew, and thank you for your recommendation.

    I’ll have to check out the load time on my sites and see how they rank. It’s so difficult to keep up with everything regarding site maintenance. I’m so very grateful for the fabulous help I get from Sherryl, as well as you and the rest of the BHB group. I can’t imagine where I’d be without this group.

  11. Hi Jeannette, page load speed is super important – for Google and for the user (they don’t wait).
    I have been investigating this a lot and have a few posts on this AND am offering my subscribers 5 weekly tips to speed up their website.
    So if any of your readers are interested – pop on over to mad lemmings :>
    And getting a new host….is of course the last resort, but sometimes worth it
    have a good one
    ashley

    • Ashley — I’ve been reading your posts, thanks. Hostgator had been so reliable over the years, but when it was acquired by EIG it’s service went down hill, with outages and very slow speed times. Several fellow bloggers have also switched.