It’s no secret that a slow loading website will affect your conversion rates.
In fact, for every 1 second that it takes to load up your web pages, you can expect a drop of 7% in conversions.
That means if your page takes longer than 2 seconds to load up, nearly 15 out of 100 visitors are going to abandon your page before it ever loads — costing you big money on the back end.
This problem is exaggerated when you’re running a site based on WordPress. While WordPress is an excellent platform, it is required to talk to a database, and typically makes external calls when the page loads — which all cost you those precious milliseconds.
Here are 5 steps you can take right now to increase your WordPress website, and increase your conversion rates.
Step #1 – Enable Caching, Minify
Caching is a form of technology that takes a “snapshot” of your web page, and stores is as a static HTML file somewhere on your server.
Then, when a visitor makes their way onto your site, the static HTML version of the page is served up. This limits the amount of time WordPress has to spend communicating with the database.
Minify, on the other hand, works through your code and moves external calls and scripts that load in the header down into the footer, so that they load last.
Once the page has been displayed, all of the scripts and code that requires external sites to load will then be called, so your visitor can at least get to browsing the page itself without interruptions.
Both are available in your WordPress dashboard, as plugins that you can install. Which you choose to use is up to you, but as long as you have caching and minify enabled, your site’s loading speeds will dramatically increase.
Step #2 – Dedicated Hosting
A large amount of marketers and business owners run their websites on what are known as shared hosting accounts.
These accounts, as the name implies, means you’re sharing disk space and bandwidth with multiple other business owners. Some of those people can have 500 or 1,000 sites on their server, because there’s no real limit.
That means you’re competing for bandwidth and processor usage with thousands of other websites.
On average, you can expect your site’s loading speeds to increase upwards of 1-2 seconds simply by changing from using a shared webhost to hosting on a dedicated server, or virtual private server (VPS).
Most VPS accounts these days run between £25 and £30 so there really is no excuse to still be running your business on a shared hosting account — especially when you think about the loss of conversions because of the slowdowns associated with shared hosting.
Step #3 – Reduce Image File Sizes
Some of your images are going to be high resolution files that, while they may look good, are taking up massive amounts of space on your web server.
When those high resolution images are called on your web pages, the visitor has to download the entire file.
Think about this for a second. When was the last time a web page was loading for you, and you had to wait for the image to completely load? As you sat there waiting, you saw the image come into view, one line at a time?
It happens fairly often, and can be completely avoided by dropping the resolution on the photos themselves.
A great WordPress plugin to help you with this is called “TinyPNG”. It works by reducing the file sizes of the images you’re hosting, while still maintaining their crisp, clear resolution.
Step #4 – Disable Non-Essential Plugins and External Calls
One of the perks of running a WordPress site is the fact that you can install plugins to achieve just about any functionality you want. However, that’s also one of it’s major downfalls, too.
When you load up a ton of plugins on your WP site, and then leave them running — even when you’re not using them — they’re going to be loaded as the visitor loads up a page. That means your visitor has to wait for a plugin to load that doesn’t actually do anything to benefit your site.
Go ahead and login to your dashboard. How many plugins do you currently have installed? Then, how many are you actually using? How many could you get rid of, and possibly hard code the functionality into your theme — saving those precious database calls for more important items?
Chances are, you have a ton of plugins installed, you’re not actually using that many, and most of the basic functions could be written into the theme’s .php files by a developer on Upwork for a few bucks.
Step #5 – Run A WP Database Cleanup Tool
As your site grows in age, the number of pages and posts begins to climb.
Add into that all of the plugins you’ve installed, settings you’ve tweaked, themes that have been uploaded, comments that were left on your posts — or blocked as spam, and you’ve got a database that has grown to massive proportions.
The larger your database is, the longer it’s going to take for WordPress to find the information needed to properly present the page to your visitors when they’re requested. Sifting through all of that data takes a long time, especially if you’re sitting on a shared hosting account.
A simple plugin called “WP-Optimize” can be installed right inside of your dashboard, and will remove information that’s not required, and cleanup the fields in your database so your pages load quicker.
Running a digital marketing agency, we see new and old clients that are consistently making these mistakes. If more people understood that a slow loading website actually hinders your ability to make money, we’re sure that the problems wouldn’t be nearly as prevalent.
By taking the 5 basic steps we’ve outlined for you here, you can dramatically increase the loading times on your web page, and have more chances to convert those visitors into sales.
This blog post was written by James at http://www.chocchip.com.au