The 6 Culprits Responsible For Slowing Down Your Vacation Rental Website
I just shared with you how to test your vacation rental website. If your website’s performance isn’t good, Google is limiting it’s visibility in their search engine results.
So how do you tune up a bogged down property website, boost its SEO and increase bookings? I’ve had to ask myself these same questions while developing our own alternative to VRBO – BreakAwayVR.com.
When developing BreakAwayVR.com, we ran into all sorts of issues. I’m going to share some of those challenges with you today, so you can diagnose your website and optimize your site as we did.
Diagnosing What’s Wrong With Your Vacation Rental Website
Like any business problem, you’ll first need to properly diagnose what’s wrong, before you can truly provide a solid solution to a problem and keep it from recurring.
As I explained in my post “Problems are Opportunities” – when you know you have a problem, it’s always best to solve it quickly! The real problem and why I’m sharing this information is that many of you may not be aware you’ve got an issue with the speed of your website.
In the future, issues like what I’m discussing today will only mean more to Google and their users. So, don’t wait or procrastinate on optimizing your website’s speed and performance. Fixing these problems now will help you to outrank your competitors.
How’s that you ask?
While most people want to outrank their competition, they don’t have the knowledge of knowing what steps can be taken to make their vacation rental website better than their competitors. But today I’m going to help you out and point you in the right direction!
You’ll first need to know what to look for, so you can not just spot a website issue, but also help prevent your website from becoming slow in the future.
Yes, your website speed can fluctuate, so routinely use the GTMetrix testing tool I shared in my recent video, especially after updates are made to your site.
Now, let’s dive into the 6 biggest culprits that are making your vacation rental website slow.
What causes a website to become slow?
1. Website Code: One of the things that can slow down your website is bulky or unoptimized code. As explained in my previous post, development is not optimization and websites are not optimized for speed “out of the box.”
Optimizing your website is kinda like outfitting your car with nitro. It’s something done “aftermarket” or after the website has been developed, to further improve the website speed and performance. In other words, to give you that edge!
While it isn’t necessary to optimize your website, it’s something all of us who are serious about generating direct bookings from our sites need to do in order to compete.
In a previous list, I shared a big problem owners and managers face when using a vacation rental website builder like MYVR, LiveRez, Lodgify, Kigo or WebChalet (Now OneRooftop). The issue is these vacation rental website services don’t grant you access to their server files. Not a big deal?
Since these types of services don’t allow you to access their server, you cannot streamline the coding and optimize files, so your website cannot be improved- leaving your site to face the penalties of Google without recourse! This is why you want a website that you own and can control!
Let me share a real-life example of how this affects businesses in a negative way. I had the great opportunity of working with Bradley with Beachside Vacation Rentals. He is a go-getter and someone who is very serious about always improving on his vacation rental business.
He wanted to improve his vacation rental website but, as I was working with the website he created on MYVR, we ran into several issues. One of which was, we could not access the server even after requesting several times, so his website speed issues could not be resolved.
I ran a test on Bradley’s MYVR website and it scored an F. If you tested your website and got a low score, it’s OK. It can be fixed – UNLESS, you’re using a vacation rental website builder or a service like Wix or Squarespace.
Photos: You know the hi-resolution photos of your vacation rental that sell your property so eloquently? They have a downside – oh no!
Yes it’s true- photos are the most common problem that slow down websites. Remember that those photos have to be pulled from the server to show them to website visitors every time, all at the same time, whenever someone visits your site.
The more images you have on the server and the larger those images are, the slower your website is likely to load.
When you upload photos onto your website you want to compress those images first, WITHOUT losing image quality. Then check your page speeds after making these types of updates.
In my next post, I will share a list of 8 resources dedicated to help you easily boost the speed of your website and more, so make sure you’ve joined our free vacation rental marketing newsletter.
3. Animation: While Flash isn’t as common as it used to be, it isn’t dead. Flash has its issues (like not being compatible with mobile devices) but there are other more common culprits like Java that causes delays on your site.
Without getting too technical, I’ll sum it up by saying this- anything that “moves” on your site is slowing it down and should be optimized.
I ran into this situation with BreakAwayVR as we have a few icons that “roll onto” the website to draw attention to the “no booking fees” section of the site. I have also seen many WordPress themes that use animation to spiff up the design of a theme.
If you’re gonna use animation, use it very sparingly and be sure if you do, optimize it!
4. Plugins used to expand the functions and features of WordPress websites can create problems with website loading. While plugins are super powerful and extremely useful, they too can cause issues with your site.
For example, the amount of plugins you have installed on your site can also bog down your vacation rental website. Remove any plugins you don’t need!
You should only use quality plugins that are supported, vetted and updated because as WordPress makes updates, these plugins will at some point need to be updated to function properly.
Not all plugins get along. When installing plugins, you may find that they create a problem after installing them. Some plugins will create conflicts with existing plugins you’re using, so just keep that in mind.
5. External Media can affect the load time of your website. But what exactly is considered “external media?” Sad to say, it’s all the good things.
Embedded Videos – This includes videos hosting on third party websites like YouTube or Vimeo. Total bummer – I know!
Social Sharing Buttons – Facebook “Like” features and other social buttons that are attached to your social network pages require more requests from the server and thus can cause slowdowns.
Virtual Tours – Virtual tours hosted on third-party websites can also greatly reduce the speed of a website’s loading. Virtual tours files are usually heavy and can cause long delays for website visitors.
Disqus & Facebook Comments – These are both very popular commenting applications/plugins. I personally use Disqus myself. The problem is, the comments and other information are hosted on the Disqus website which have to be pulled onto your website every time your blog loads. This is the same for the Facebook comment plugin. There are some benefits to these tools, but also some big drawbacks.
Ads – Ad networks like Adsense can possibly earn you some additional income, but they will definitely slow down your website.
Analytics – You remember the Google analytics and Clicky tools I’ve shared with you? While they are absolutely essential to understanding and improving your vacation rental marketing, they too need to push and pull information from their website to yours, therefore causing more demands on the server.
A slow website can often be a result of many things being used within a website together, causing a massive strain on the site.
6. Hosting. Not all hosting is created equal. I’ll go deeper into hosting in the post to follow, as there are several facets to hosting you should know about, and I just can’t cover it all here.
Since owners tend to purchase hosting mainly based on price, they can often end up purchasing a “shared hosting account.” This is what you’ll get with most cheap hosting services.
The hosting companies basically cut a huge server into little pieces and they sell off sections or little pieces of a “server pie” to as many people as possible. That’s why shared hosting is cheap.
I strongly believe that in business, and in life, many of the “cheap” things end up costing more in the long run – don’t you agree?
With shared hosting, your website speed can be sucked up by other websites on the same shared hosting account.
Hosting companies will often place certain restrictions on your site to keep things regulated and throttle some of your traffic to better disperse all of the server “juice” to all who are on the shared server.
Another thing worth mentioning is that you can also be affected by Malware and more vulnerable to hacks in these types of shared hosting plans. I know because it’s happened to me before.
Now that you’ve diagnosed your website, I will give you the prescription that will show you how to improve your vacation rental website with 8 optimization tools and resources.
Of course if this is more than you want to do yourself, you can have this done for you, just contact me – I guarantee an A or B score or I’ll give you your money back. With that said, an A grade should be your optimization goal too.