We’ve all been on sites that seem to take FOREVER to load. If we are having a good day we might have the patience to wait a few extra seconds, but most of the time we just bounce to another site that can serve us the same information a lot faster.
Today users expect a site to load in just a few seconds. Yet, according to Google, 70% of sites take a whopping 7 seconds to load the content just above the fold. Are we as users guilty of having Unrealistic expectations? Yes. Or what about a poor judgment of how long a second is? Absolutely.
Do these extra seconds added to your site speed REALLY matter?
Yes, absolutely. The longer your site takes to load the higher your bounce rate grows and people leave your site. As people bounce from your slow site they will miss out on your content and other, faster, sites will take the revenue you deserve.
A fast load time is crucial for positive user experience and to enable growth on your site.
So what can you do about it?
Let’s first understand WHY your site is lagging in the first place and then evaluate what you can do to speed things up.
What’s Causing Latency on Your Site?
“It’s all of my ADS fault!”
Sure this might be the easiest element of your website to blame, and yes certain ads could play a role in slowing down your site, but this is NOT why your site is having a hard time loading.
Our publishers often assume that our ads are the main reason for slower site speed.
It’s just not the case.
Our ads load asynchronously with your site which means they load AFTER the content on the page has loaded. Sure certain high impact Ads might have more code and therefore take more bytes to load. An example would be a video unit. Overall if you are experiencing a huge latency your Ads are not what you should be blaming.
Ads are currently being purchased through a bidding process that currently happens within your site’s browser. Because we value user experience as much as you do we have made sure not to overload our server to keep your site loading fast. This won’t always be the case.
There is simply a lot more to your site speed than your Ads. If you do want to see how your site and Ads measure up OpenX just released a new Chrome extension called Ad Footprint. You can analyze your load process of your site and of each ad on your site and how long it takes to load. OpenX will compare your page speed to other websites. Get advice specific to your site to optimize your user experience. You can even get your site’s speed footprint on desktop and Mobile. Download the extension HERE.
Honestly though, your Ads play very little into why your site isn’t loading at the rate you want. Here are some of the top reasons contributing to your load time and how to fix them.
1. Your Server
This is where the magic happens and where it can all come crumbling down. When a visitor comes to your site your browser calls for all the information to load the page. If you have a low performing server your site will not load very fast. Your web host could be who to blame with this one. Some of the cheapest web hosts around pack their server with tons of sites. This lowers the hosting bandwidth creating a delay in load time for your site. To better understand how this works imagine your site is like a home. When you move into a home, you begin to collect more and more belongings. When you’ve collected too much “stuff”, then you have to move into a bigger unit. A site has a similar situation. When you buy a certain amount of bandwidth for your site, and then grow beyond what it can hold, you need to upgrade for more bandwidth.
Solution: First try upgrading to a better web host. If you are on a huge shared hosting resource it might be beneficial to look elsewhere. It’s worth the investment.
2. Your Traffic
A sudden boost in traffic is great right? A viral post is every publisher’s dream. The problem is when you chose your web host, theme, design and placed your content you were probably seeing a fairly consistent amount of traffic. When a tone of people suddenly rush to your website your site begins to grow and you have to grow with it.
Solution: Optimize your site by upgrading your hosting bandwidth to reach more people faster.
3. Your Content
Imagine your browser as a kitchen table. Your server would be your kids. When your site begins to load all of the kids have to go get everything to put on the table. That huge gody china your great grandmother left you might take them a little longer to place it. Those huge long videos will likewise take longer to load. Sure it looks great but it’s not optimized for your site or you server. Let’s say they kids have to bring out 500 forks and carry them one by one. Imagine the time it will take! The more dishes and food items you add, the longer before a guest can sit with all elements on the table.
Having highly engaging top quality content on your site is important to the users experience but more often than not the actually elements are not fully optimized to run as smoothly as possible while still providing a worthwhile interaction.
Huge images or uncompressed media elements scattered throughout your page will only increase load time.
Let’s go back to the fork example. Having your child carry 500 forks one by one seems ridiculous right?. Stack them in a silverware tray and consolidate trips! This goes for the elements on your site. Your graphics, text, and images should be compressed to reduce travel and load time.
Your pictures and certain types of text could be slowing everything down. Compressing your items tend to speed up the load time of your site.
Solution:Simplify- Before actually compressing all elements on your page, first consider what you can manually do to simplify the load process for your server. Consider how many textual and visual elements are necessary on each page. A lot of publishers have way too much text or images on one page to allow fast load times.Consolidate your theme and limit your number of fonts and start shaving off those seconds.
Compress- After you have cleaned your site up to the best of your ability you may still want an extra boost to zip your site. And we aren’t talking about changing your site size. It’s like packing your entire wardrobe in a space bag and then having it opened and accessible. Files are shrunk for easy transport within the browser and server. Learn more about GZIP compression HERE and how to use it on your site.
CDN- Some publishers prefer to use a CDN or a content delivery network. Websites with high or international traffic use a CDN to load the content of their site. A group of servers redirects the user without notice to a cached version of the page. This speeds up the load time for all elements of your page.
4. Your Code
Just like the actual text on your site, your code might be more rich than you need it to be. Having a super dense code volume makes it more difficult for the browser to read. Try to simplify as much as possible.
Solution: Cache your site. When someone revisits your site their browser has already stored elements of your site. The next time they load your site it will load significantly faster.
5. Internet Speed
Different readers have different internet providers, use different browsers, and are working from different computers. You have to factor in your internet speed with your readers. Some people are still using dial up!
Solution: Try to simplify and compress your site in the best way for the person with the worst internet in the world. If it is tolerable on their level, it will be acceptable for everyone else. Check your internet speed HERE.
There are many factors that could be contributing to your site speed, but before you go and take down all of your ads, try these fixes. If you are still wondering what can be done check out these site speed tests for your site.