Is your WordPress website slow to load? If yes, it’s time for you to take some steps to optimize it.
Saving extra milliseconds from your site’s loading time can have a great impact on your traffic and search engine visibility.
Each second matters on the internet. When it comes to your website, visitors expect fast results. In fact, many people expect your site to pop open in less than two seconds. 40% hit the close button if a website doesn’t load within three seconds.
Google deeply considers site speed. They have developed a search algorithm to push down any website that takes too long to load. It can beat your SEO very badly. And perhaps worst of all, a slow site kills sales and conversions. A survey conducted by Akamai found that one extra second can slow conversion rate by 7%.
What can be the reasons that WordPress loads too slowly?
WordPress is a great platform for clean and well-designed code, but it’s not perfect. There is a massive list of themes and plugins, but they don’t all offer good performance.
Slow themes and plugins can make your website slow. Combine that with a poor quality of web host, and you’re in huge difficulty.
If you’ve been asking yourself question, like “why my WordPress site is so slow?” or “what I should do to speed up my WordPress site?” Please go read and carefully follow this guide.
Website speed is too important to ignore, but luckily, it’s easy to fix. So, if you suspect your website is running slow, here are some big reasons why?
How to Check WordPress Website Speed
Often beginners think that their website is OK just because it doesn’t feel slow on their computer. That’s a big mistake.
Since you frequently visit your own website, modern browser like chrome store your website in the cache and automatically prefetch it as soon as you start typing the address of the website. This makes your website load almost immediately.
However, a normal user who is visiting your website for the first time may not have the same experience. Actually, users in different geographical locations will have a completely different experience.
Pingdom is the best online tool to check your WordPress website speed. We recommend this tool because, firstly, it is a free online tool that allows you to test your website’s speed from various locations.
GTmetrix is also one of the best tool to check your website performance, do visit this website for a second opinion.
When done with speed test, you might be wondering what’s a good website speed that I should aim for?
A good page load time is under 2 seconds.
However, the faster you can make it, the better it is. A few milliseconds of enhancement here and there can add up to saving half or even a full second from your load time.
Your speed test report will show you multiple recommendations for improvement. However, most of that is technical jargon which is difficult for beginners to understand.
Although, understanding what’s slows down your website is key to improving performance and making a smarter long-term decision.
Now let’s start with what are the reasons behind them and what measures can be taken to solve them:
The primary causes of a slow WordPress website are:
Unoptimized large images
This is often the most obvious reason and easiest to fix. Large images can extremely bloat the size of your pages and can slow down your site.
Outdated or unnecessary plugins
All plugins need WordPress resource to run. The more plugins you have the slower your site becomes. Make sure your WordPress core files and all the plugins are updated to the latest version. Go through the plugins and find out which one is really important for you. There might be snippets of code you can use in your function file to replace few of the plugins.
Web unreliable hosting
Hosting is an important factor in keeping your website performing well. If you have a small site that doesn’t get a lot of traffic and you’re on a budget, you might be cool with a shared hosting package. We are running sites on GoDaddy for many clients without any major lagging problems. Certainly, a dedicated server might be a better option if you need a site that loads extremely fast. And be sure to do a search to find out which companies rank better based on their performance.
Poorly coded themes
There are many free themes available online, but the problem with that is they are poorly coded. Poor codes can make too many calls to the database and causing other types of performance hindrance. A poorly written code can surely lead to website decrease in speed.
Purchased themes from reliable WordPress marketplace such as Themeforest.net to be sure that your theme is properly coded and reviewed by expertise developers. And make sure you take a demo for speed and read all comments and reviews to make sure users are happy with the performance before you purchase it.
Not using WordPress caching plugins
Caching plugins can extremely improve the speed of your website by rendering your page and making them static.
There are a number of excellent free caching plugins you can use for this. You probably should try one or two before you settle on the one you like the most. Be careful, caching plugins might cause conflict with your other plugins. Make sure to check the site, once the plugin is activated. It also might be a good idea to try different caching plugins and run the speed tests to see which one do a better job on your site.
Disarranged and bloated database
You can also make sure to clean up your database from time to time to ensure your site loads quickly. A database contains genre of information and some of it might not be needed. If you have outdated pages and old post revision that haven’t been deleted, your site is much more likely not to perform well. By running monthly database cleanup, you will ensure your WordPress website works and runs well.
Many 3rd party widgets
Every time you add a widget to your page, it slows down its load time. Every widget and social media sharing plugin sends our request to 3rd party sites in order to work properly. This means every widget you add can decrease your page load time. All this twitter and Facebook page plugins can take some time to load. Try to reduce the number of the widget and only use the essential one.
These are only some of the factors that can negatively affect your WordPress website loading time. To really understand why your particular site doesn’t perform well, you need to conduct a speed test to see what the cause of your WordPress site might be slow.
How to speed up a WordPress website performance?
One thing is true about a website, that it’s loading speed matters. When your site loads slowly you will not only provide a poor user experience, but you’ll also rank lower in the search engines.
Luckily for you, improving your site speed doesn’t have to take a lot of additional work. Plus, the benefits you’ll receive from improving your site’s loading speed are well worth the time spent.
I guarantee that using even a few will help speed up your site.
Choose a good Web Hosting service:
Your WordPress hosting service plays an important role in website performance. There are different types of web hosting options available such as Free, Shared, VPS, Dedicated, and Managed. Let’s take a look at each of these options to determine which is the best solution for you.
Free WordPress Hosting
Usually, you can find free WordPress hosting being offered in online forums or small groups. In most cases, these are managed by an individual who is reselling a small part of his server space to cover up some revenue. The biggest downside of having a free host aside from the ads is that they are unreliable. If you are serious about your website or business, then avoid Free WordPress hosting at all costs.
Shared WordPress Hosting
Shared hosting is the most affordable and quite frankly a good starting point for new users. It is a hosting where you share a large server with a lot of sites. By having multiple sites on the same server, hosting providers can offer the service at a more affordable rate. This can lead to “bad neighbor” effects where one site is hogging the majority of resources and downtimes due to overload.
VPS WordPress Hosting
Virtual Private Server (VPS) refers to a virtual machine. It is a method of partitioning a physical server computer into multiple servers with respect to the individual customer’s need. Even though you are sharing the server with a handful others, this gives you almost as much control as a dedicated server. It also has the privacy of a separate physical computer.
Dedicated Server WordPress Hosting
A dedicated server allows you to have full control over the server including the choice of operating system, hardware etc. You DO NOT need a dedicated server if you are just starting out. Once your site is receiving a significant amount of traffic, only then you should consider upgrading to a dedicated server.
Managed WordPress Hosting
Due to a large number of users using WordPress, several web hosting providers have chosen to offer managed WordPress hosting. An account with one of these providers only allows you to host WordPress based sites and nothing else. The benefit of managed WordPress hosting is that they optimize your site for performance, make sure that your site is secure, and keep regular backups. On top of that they advise you if a specific plugin is having a negative impact.
Keep Your WordPress Site Updated
As a well maintained open source project, WordPress is updated frequently. With each new release, they fix bugs, add new features, improve performance, and enhance existing features to stay up to date with new industry standards. Your WordPress theme and plugins may have regular updates, too.
As a website owner, it’s your responsibility to keep your WordPress site, theme, and plugins updated to the latest versions. Not doing so may make your site slow and unreliable and make you vulnerable to security threats.
Use a Proper Theme
While we are talking about themes: they can be a decisive factor in website speed. Some beautiful and impressive-looking themes are actually poorly coded and can slow your site way down.
For that reason, try to find a theme that has just what you need and nothing more. Or better yet, get a lightweight theme and add functionality via plugins. That way you can keep things lean and lightweight. Your loading time will thank you.
Use an effective caching plugin
WordPress plugins are obviously quite useful, but some of the best falls under the caching category, as they drastically improve page loads time, and best of all; all of them on WordPress.org are free and easy to use. Also update plugins regularly, as it may provide new features. Use W3 Total Cache plugin, it has all of the features you need and is extremely easy to install and use.
Perform Regular Database Maintenance
Just like the WordPress core gets bogged over time, so does the database. It’s prone to accumulate temporary disk space and unused data from uninstalled plugins, post revisions, and other culprits. For that reason, regular database maintenance is crucial to keep your database lean and usable. There are many tools out there which can help you.
Optimize Images for Speed
Images bring life to your content and help boost engagement. Researchers have found that using colored visuals makes people 80% more likely to read your content.
Images often make up the bulk of a page. That’s natural since they need more space than text. For that reason, in order to speed up WordPress, it is crucial that you learn how to make them as small as possible without losing quality, or what is called compression.
One of the best ways to go about it is to compress your images before you even upload them. For example, in Photoshop you can use the Save for web option for that. For everyone else, there is TinyPNG an online service that performs the same action.
If you’d like to automate the process of compression of an image a third option is to use an image optimization plugin like WP Smush. When you use images in your content, it’s important to note that WordPress creates several sizes of them. That way, you can input the size of the image it will actually appear in.
Optimize your homepage to load quickly
Homepage optimization is not one thing but really a few easy things that you can do to ensure that your homepage loads quickly, which probably is the most important part of your site because people will be landing there the most often.
Things that you can do include:
- Show excerpts instead of full posts
- Reduce the number of posts on the page
- Reduce the number of images and other elements on your page
- Uninstall unnecessary plugins, especially slower ones
- Deactivate plugins you are not using permanently
- Enable lazy loading to delay loading images until they are actually visible on the page
- Reduce external resources such as fonts if they aren’t necessary
Overall, a clean and focused homepage design will help your page not only look good but load quicker as well.
Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Users in different geographical locations may experience different loading times on your site. Basically, that is because the location of your web hosting servers can have an impact on your site speed. Besides that, the further away the computer that hosts your site is from the visitor, the longer it takes to transmit your site data.
A content delivery network or CDN lessens this problem by hosting your static files on several servers at once, all distributed around the world. For that reason, whenever someone requests to see your site, they can receive them from the closest possible location, thus cutting download time.
Related Article: WordPress Security Guide by BMA