WordPress is one of the best content management systems for building your website.
It started as a blogging platform and evolved into a full-fledged content management system that can be used to build all types of sites. And it’s easy to see why it’s being used by almost 28% of websites on the web.
It’s user-friendly, easy to set up, and great for SEO. There are thousands of themes and plugins available. You can also find tons of tutorials and how-to guides, as well as get answers from the WordPress community if you need help.
However, one problem many users often run into constantly is when their WordPress sites become slower over time. Since Google pays close attention to how fast the website is, it’s important to understand and figure out why your WordPress is not as fast as it used to.
To be honest, there are many reasons why your WordPress website can become slow. Each site is different with its own set of problems that no single fix can solve. That is why it’s critical to test website speed on regular basis to make sure it loads fast.
For this post, instead of providing a long list of possible causes, I want to focus on the top main reasons that are often responsible for WordPress websites being slow.
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Top 7 Reasons Why Your WordPress Website Slow to Load
1. Too many large images that are not optimized.
This is often the most obvious reason and easiest to fix. Large images can drastically bloat the size of your pages and slow down your site. You can install image optimization plugins, but better yet, you should really try to resize and optimize your images before you upload them to WordPress. Scroll to the bottom of the article to find free image optimization tools you can use.
2. Too many unnecessary or outdated plugins
Each plugin requires WordPress resources 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 all your plugins and figure out what each one does and decide if you really need it. There might be snippets of code you can use in your function file to replace a few of the plugins.
3. Unreliable hosting
Hosting can be 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’re might be ok with a shared hosting package. I’ve been running sites on Hostgator and GoDaddy for many of my clients without any major lagging issues. Of course, 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. (The Best WordPress Web Hosting Services of 2017 by PC Mag)
4. Poorly written theme
There are many themes, especially free ones that are poorly coded. Poorly coded themes are making too many calls to the database and causing other types of performance issues. Poorly written code can definitely lead to a website decrease in speed.
Purchase themes from reliable WordPress marketplaces such as Themeforest.net to ensure your theme is properly coded and reviewed by experienced developers. And before you purchase it, test the demo for speed and read all comments and reviews to make sure users are happy with its performance.
5. Not using WordPress caching plugins.
Caching plugins can drastically improve the speed of your website by rendering your pages 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 conflicts 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 ones do a better job on your site.
6. Cluttered and bloated database.
Another measure you can take to ensure your site loads quickly is cleanup your database. Databases contain all kinds of information and some of it might not be needed. If you have outdated pages and old post revisions 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.
7. Too 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 out requests to 3rd party sites in order to work properly. This means every widget you add can decrease your page load time. All these twitter and facebook page plugins can take some time to load. Try to reduce the number of widgets and only use the essential ones.
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 might be the cause of your WordPress site being slow.
How To Fix a Slow WordPress Website
One of the first things you should do is run a speed test. There are many free tools available to help you figure why your website is not loading quickly. Below are some of the popular free speed testing tools you can use to check your website.
- Google Page Speed Test – Tool by Google to test your web page speed
- Pingdom Website Speed Test – Enter a URL to test the load time of that page, analyze it and find bottlenecks.
- GMetrix Website Speed Tool – GTmetrix can help you develop a faster, more efficient, and all-around improved website experience for your users.
Once you figure out why your website is slow, you can use proper tools and plugins to ensure everything is optimized and all the issues have been fixed.
Tools For Optimizing The Images
There are a few excellent plugins for optimizing WordPress images. One is Smush Image Compression and Optimization Plugin and another one is EWWW Image Optimizer. And if you’re looking for more options, you can read a great post that compares top 10 Best Image Optimization Plugins.
One thing I can recommend is to crop, resize and optimize your images before you upload them to WordPress. You can use photoshop or other free online photo editors or you can use a handy free online image compression tool that can drastically reduce the size of your file.
Free WordPress Caching Plugins
There are many caching plugins, but the two most popular ones are W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache. You should try both of them to see does a better job on your site. Make sure they don’t affect other plugins. Often installing these plugins might cause errors and css styling issues when you use minify feature. If you need more information to see which plugin is better, you can read this article that compares top 3 caching plugins to see which one might be better for you.
Free Database Cleanup Plugins
In addition to these two plugins, there are many other database plugins you can choose. Take a look at this post that reviews top 12 database cleaning plugins.
These are just more free tools you can use to improve your WordPress website performance.
And if you need to find out more information on how to make your WordPress website run faster, check out these great resources and tutorials.