Five Factors That Could Be Slowing Down Your Website

Slowing Down Your WebsiteAlthough there’s mounting evidence that page speed doesn’t have as much of an effect on PageRank as was initially believed, that doesn’t mean it’s not extremely important to your success in the online arena. A slow site can still have an adverse effect on your traffic, as frustrated readers decide to take their business elsewhere. It goes without saying, then, that if you’ve got a slow website, you want to do everything you can to address the problem.

We’ll lend you a hand with that. In today’s piece, we’re going to go over five of the most common causes of website slowdown. More importantly, we’ll detail how you can deal with each one.

There’s A Bottleneck – And High Traffic Is Causing A Hangup

The most frequent cause of a slow website is a bottleneck somewhere in the site’s backend – whether in the network or in the server that’s actually running the site. Usually, this weak link only makes itself known during periods of particularly high traffic, at which time your site begins to chug and slow to a crawl. Thankfully, this means it’s pretty easy to figure out where the problem lies, so long as everything’s being monitored properly.

Once it’s been located, you can deal with a website bottleneck in several different ways:

  • Upgrading your hosting plan to gain more bandwidth or server resources.
  • Making use of a caching service to reduce the load of your most frequently-accessed pages.
  • Using dynamic scaling or cloud bursting to temporarily provision the required resources.

It Isn’t Properly Optimized/Configured

Assuming high traffic isn’t your problem, the issue could be tied to how your website is configured. Are you using a large volume of rich media, a resource-intensive stylesheet, or (if you’re running on a CMS), a metric ton of plugins? If so, that may well be the root of the issue. Inefficient, poorly-developed code is also a major contributor to site slowdown.

In order to nail down where you’re going wrong with your configuration, there are several different tools and apps you can use, including Google Page Speed and Page Speed Grader, If you’re using a CMS, there are a number of different plugins that serve the same purpose. Download whichever one you think is best, and run a few tests.

Finally, after you’ve figured out your issue with configuration, there are a few measures you can take to address it:

  • If the root cause of the lag is a plugin, uninstall it. You can always find a better-coded one to serve your needs.
  • Resize images before uploading them to your server.
  • If the issue is tied to overloading your site with rich media, either cut down on the number of images/videos on the page, or use some form of caching/optimization service to improve load times.
  • If the problem is bad script, you’re going to need to either hire a developer to optimize your code, run a code optimization plugin, or rework the scripts yourself.

Your Database Is Overloaded

If your optimization software can’t seem to locate the problem, then you may be dealing with a busted database – especially if you’re using a content management system. Since even a minor problem with the database can translate to longer load times, you need to clean things up as quickly as possible. The first step is to figure out where the glitch is happening – and the best way to do that is by testing things manually.

If you’ve an issue within your database, you can solve it by doing the following:

  • Clear the cache, You’d be surprised how often this solves database-related problems, particularly if your site is especially large.
  • Double-check your code. As with website script, poor programming can cause a whole host of errors and roadblocks.
  • If you can’t find any problems within your code, and clearing the cache doesn’t seem to solve your problem, take a close look at what queries are being run when pages on your site are loaded. Too many queries could cause slowdown as surely as anything else.

There’s An Issue With The DNS, Host, Or ISP

There’s a good chance that if none of your other tests find the problem, it could be a configuration issue with your domain, host, or service provider. Thankfully, this is usually pretty easy to solve – just contact the company in question, and work through it with them. First, you need to determine where the problem lies, however.

  • For network problems, simply run a plain HTML test – access one of the simplest pages on your site. If it takes over three seconds to load, then you’ve likely got an issue with connectivity.
  • If your ISP is the issue, run a traceroute on your website, and contact the ISP with the information.
  • Finally, if your DNS is bugging out, you can use use a DNS diagnostics tool and fix the problem manually within your hosting control panel.

You’re Using A Lot Of External Resources

Last but certainly not least, look at what you’ve got on your page. Are you making a large number of calls to external image/media hosting services, websites, or social networks? It’s a bit of a long shot, but this could very well cause your site to load more slowly. If you’ve exhausted all other options, try reducing the volume of external content on your site. Who knows? It could be the root of your problem.

Get Quick

There many not be any direct correlation between load time and PageRank, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t keep your website running in top form. A slow website can very easily frustrate your visitors; leading to reduced traffic overall. Worse still, one whose optimization is poor enough could very well drive sales prospects right into the arm of a competitor.

Make sure your website is quick on its feet – otherwise, you’re in for some trouble.

Matthew Davis is a technical writer and Linux geek for Future Hosting.

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  • Here is something interesting that a friend of mine suggested.

    Hi,
    I like it, and it’s certainly written well. I’d also add, though, that
    making new connections to a site for each new resource, rather than
    using an already open connection with keep alive settings, can also
    slow things down and will definitely make an impact with higher
    traffic sites. It’ll certainly use more resources on the web server,
    too, so I’m not sure why they didn’t recommend making sure you had
    your keep alive settings enabled.