iPage | Web Hosting Page Load Speeds for WordPress
iPage is listed by a number of hosting reviews as being one of the best North American hosting providers for 2012.
However, are hosting service reviewers and customers missing one critical factor that’s more important than the price, feature rich services, a user friendly back office, hosted site bandwidth and disk space?
The answer is yes!
The most important factor today are webpage load speeds. Google now includes webpage load time in its webpage search engine ranking evaluation.
Whilst the best shared hosting providers can provide reasonable page load times under average traffic conditions they invariably fail to provide acceptable load rates during high traffic conditions.
The bottom line is that if you’re not getting reasonable traffic going to your website then the quality of your web hosting is likely to be a major contributing factor.
Why is Google ranking important?
There are three ways to get significant traffic going to your website.
Through search engine listings, social networking traffic and advertising.
In all cases website accessibility, content quality and usability are primary factors for gaining valuable visitor click through rates, returning visitors and sales conversions.
Google organic traffic via search engine keyword category page one rankings is by far the most valuable traffic source available. See my http://www.mark-jago.com/wordpress-seo-update post embedded Google webinar for additional insights…
Some basic website statistics:
Up to 90 percent of search engine visitor traffic is distributed between the top ten page one indexed websites.
Google estimates that typically search engine text advertizing only accounts for 5 percent of page 1 traffic. Opt in sales conversions average to be at around 2 percent (assuming an optimized campaign) for this traffic.
It should also be noted that 60 percent of opt in sales conversions come from on page advertising.
Whatever the scenario, page load and refresh rates are a critically important factor in ensuring a hosted websites success.
If your page load and refresh rates are slow visitors will not wait around, they will just click on the next available web page.
The Google Speed Test:
Hosting providers will not readily give out typical page load times preferring to point out their unlimited bandwidth options and 99.9 percent up time.
Keep in mind that this is shared hosting and that you have no idea of the quality of the sites that you are sharing bandwidth and IP addresses with.
If you’re sharing hosting with sites that are receiving large amounts of spam comments then your bandwidth and page load times will more than likely be negatively affected.
I have experienced a web hosting company being forced to close due to the high number of spam infected websites that they were hosting.
You can check your page load times using a number of webpage tools. One I use is: http://www.metatags.info/analyze_your_meta_tags
Google Webmaster tools Labs Site performance will list your page load performance.
The big issue here is that they do one evaluation every four months and if they find that your sites load time is poor then your sites ranking is negatively affected for at least the next four months.
It doesn’t matter how good your site is in other respects the likelihood of you getting Google page one rankings is close to zero.
If you have these issues your hosting site will likely say that it’s your WordPress site that has grown too large and has too many plugins and inefficient code that is slowing it down.
Google has a page speed browser add on that can be installed for Firefox from the webmaster Site performance page. You can also check your page speed using Google developer page speed tool at: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights
You can also download the Google browser Page Speed Insights for Chrome plugins for developers.
This Google “The need for Speed” chart clearly identifies the link between longer page load times to decreased customer satisfaction and lost conversions.
WordPress Page Load Solutions:
Don’t add more plugins than you really need, delete any deactivated plugins that you have and install the WordPress W3 Total Cash plugin with minify and CDN to manage your websites cashing. View the plugin video for detailed information on how to configure it.
This includes page cashing that will provide a cashed page HTML image for webpage uploads. Cashing is included as a standard feature in the Joomla publishing website framework. The downside is that you will have to flush the cash to be able to immediately see any webpage updates that you make on your site.
Consolidate your Java scripts and minimize the number of URL paths that you include in your code. Managing your webpage off page links, page content size and use the smallest file size options for on page media graphics.
For HTML website pages it’s quite usual to have page load times down to 1 second with pages that include video and picture content.
For WordPress sites page load time should not be above four seconds and preferably within the range of 2 to 3 seconds.
If you’re not a coding expert many of the fine tuning WordPress site options will be beyond your capability.
The Google browser Page Speed Insights tool will allow you to identify what are the webpage code related load time factors for your website pages. If your page load times are up in the range of five or six seconds and above then you clearly have a hosting quality of service problem that needs to be resolved.
WordPress Hosting Summary:
In this post we have seen that webpage load and refresh times are very important for your websites success.
Unlimited shared hosting bandwidth, disk space and 99.9 up time commitments do not guarantee fast webpage load times. Web hosting providers will want to provide more costly virtual private server services when poor webpage load times are reported to them for their shared hosting services.
The simple fact is that if more webmasters demanded page load rates at 3 seconds the shared hosting service providers would have to meet customers 3 second quality of service expectations.
I should add that I am looking at iPage as a possible hosting option and its included in this post because there is interest and a reasonable amount of search engine traffic associated with their category keyword.
This website will be shortly moving to a new hosting provider and I will keep you updated on page load time experiences with the new hosting plan.
Oct. 05 Update: I Apologize for having my website down for 24 hours, it was taken down by a hacker. However this gave me a chance to clean out some old code added with some plugins that I was testing out. There are some framework and security issues with running a full service membership site on WordPress and I am currently working on a new Joomla alternative.
As for the hacker? Spamming and hacking is for people who are failures at what they do and think its cleaver to hijack other site owners traffic. They should know that their activities are monitored 24/7/365 and that the appropriate authorities will deal with them over the course of time.