If you see that your WooCommerce site visitors are leaving your site not long after they get in, you might want to check if your site is loading fast enough. Slow page loading is one of the primary reasons people leave websites. A Kissmetrics study shows that a 1-second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. Even Google admitted they hate slow loading sites and penalize the ranking of slow websites. In this article we will get into the factors that cause your site to slow down and how you can fix them.
It is critical for WooCommerce sites to have optimized images, specifically product images. The sheer number of product images and alternate images can significantly affect a WooCommerce site’s page speed. You might want to aim for a file size not larger than 100kb. But this is just a rule of thumb. Full-width images are of course an exception. Also always try to use appropriate sizes. For optimum speed, the images should not exceed the size of the placeholder. Lastly try to adjust the quality of the image. It doesn’t mean you compromise image quality. There are ways to reduce image file size without affecting image quality. You can optimize the image by adjusting some settings and removing some color palettes that are not observable by the naked eye.
We suggest a plugin called WPSmush.it. This is a plugin that automatically optimizes the image as you upload your images through the WordPress Media Library. Still, it is important that you optimize your images before uploading them. Learn more about pre-upload adjustments on our post about image optimizations.
Serving Content without Caching
Content caching is basically preprocessing the files and storing them as static content instead of asking the server for the contents upon each client request. The static content can be stored either from an intermediary nearby server (server side caching) or from the client’s web browser (client side caching). This practice reduces page load time significantly because it reduces server load and the content is served from a closer location. Caching can improve your website speed up to 300%. For caching, we recommend W3 Total Cache plugin. Check out our separate tutorial on setting up W3 Total Cache for your WooCommerce store.
Having Too Many Plugins Installed
This is why having too many plugins installed on your WooCommerce site is not advisable. Same goes for having a theme with a lot of bundled plugins. Plugins can have their own stylesheets and scripts and these add to total the number of requests. Of course it depends on the plugin. Some plugins have efficient code, but others can have issues with poorly coded PHP scripts. A poorly coded plugin needs longer server processing time before it completes a calculation. That’s why it is important to only use plugins that you really need. Avoid plugins with too many features that you don’t really need.
Not Minifying Scripts and Stylesheets
Even if you already uninstalled unused plugins, chances are you will still have a couple of individual stylesheets and scripts queued for request. Minifying is a technique made to handle this issue. What it does is combine stylesheets and scripts. So instead of 5-7 stylesheet and 9-12 scripts, you will end with a single file for each type. After combining, it will further compress the files and serve them with gzip compression. This technique reduces the number of request and the page size significantly. Don’t worry about the technicalities of minifying though. W3 Total Cache has Minify together with the caching service.
Plenty of Externally Hosted Content
Another culprit in slowing down a site is having externally hosted content. They can look harmless at first but without moderation, your site will get bogged down by these contents. Your site will only be as fast as your external host server. It is not limited with external videos, audio and images. External content can also be stylesheets and scripts. One common culprit is the overuse of Google Fonts, so as much as possible try to only use at most 2 font families from Google fonts.
Server overload is a common problem especially for site owners that use shared servers. Shared servers don’t cost that much but they have their limits. Most of these servers can’t handle huge amounts of traffic. One solution is to invest on a pricier dedicated server. Another one is to use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) service. CDN is a system of distributed servers. Basically you can apply to use a CDN service and they will store your cached site in their server systems across the globe. You can use the W3 Total Cache plugin to easily set up a CDN for your WooCommerce store.
It is important to invest in speed optimization to maintain good user experience across your WooCommerce store and if you want to keep your SEO rankings. To test your WooCommerce store’s speed, you can use Pingdom’s site speed test or Google’s page speed tool. If your site takes more than 2 seconds to load, you have to make some adjustments. Hopefully, the pointers above will help you achieve an acceptable page load speed.
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