Why Is My WordPress Website Slow: 8 Steps to Speed It Up
Speed is one of the most important features to optimize for when creating or finetuning any website, not just a WordPress one. The loading speed of your site affects both your rank on Google’s search pages and how long visitors are likely to stay on your website.
Page speed is so impactful that there’s quite a bit of research on the benefits of having a fast speed.
Take a look at these statistics:
- If you increase your website speed by one second, your conversions will increase by 7%
- Sites that load in five seconds earn 70% longer user sessions and 35% lower bounce rates
- Out of Internet users, 83% expect a website to load in less than three seconds
- And 53% of users will leave a page if it takes more than three seconds to load
Wondering, “Why is my WordPress website slow?” We can help fix that! Check out our page speed optimization services or call our WordPress website development company at 888-601-5359 so we can help you figure out what is going wrong!
Or keep reading to figure out what to do if you’re experiencing a slow load speed for your WordPress site.
So, what’s slowing your site down?
Many things could slow down your WordPress (WP) website, but here are seven common causes:
- 1. Slow web hosting service provider
- 2. Caching system not set up via a plugin or content delivery network (CDN)
- 3. Poorly optimized pages and files
- 4. Too many external resources
- 5. Out-of-date Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP)
- 6. Slow or heavy themes/plugins
- 7. Cluttered database
How to speed up your WordPress site in 8 steps, no coding required!
Keep reading to learn more about speeding up your WordPress site!
1. Check your speed
Check your WordPress website’s speed with a speed testing tool.
If your page loads in under two seconds, your website has excellent speed.
Here are two good sites to test your site’s speed:
- GTmetrix provides a wide range of speed optimization tips for your website, like how fast your page is and how it looks on different devices, what images need to be optimized, or which plugins are slowing down your page.
- Pingdom is another useful tool to check for an accurate measure of your load time, and it can help you monitor other aspects of your site like user experience or uptime. Like GTmetrix, Pingdom will also provide you with recommendations on how to improve your load time.
2. Get a fast web hosting service provider
With web hosting, you usually get what you pay for. The web hosting service that you choose is probably the number one factor behind your page’s load speed. If you have a slow provider, even if you use all the speed optimization tips in the world, it’s not likely that your load speed will get much faster.
Because web hosting services have so much impact on your load speed, it’s worth it to invest in a good host provider. The higher rank and reduced bounce time that will come with a faster site speed (both of which lead to more leads, conversions, and sales) will more than earn you back your investment.
We recommend one of these web hosting providers:
That said, we recommend researching in depth before choosing from any of the 70+ web hosting services (like BlueHost or HostGator) affiliated with EIG. The profit-based changes made to each web hosting service EIG’s acquired have sparked controversy over the quality of those services.
3. Cache your site information
To understand how caching your website information can increase your site speed, we need to look at how WordPress pages load.
WordPress loads pages dynamically.
In other words, WordPress finds the code for your site and rebuilds your page each time users request it. And because the process contains several steps, it can slow your site down, especially for your users located in different countries or if you have many visitors.
Cache servers decrease the time it takes your website to load anywhere between two to five times.
Here’s how it works:
- The first load of your page runs the normal WordPress process
- A static HTML copy of your pages and files is made and stored on a server
- Each time your page is requested, users get shown a copy of your page
There are two common ways that you can create caches for your WP site.
Install a WordPress caching plugin
The first way to create a cache is to install a WordPress caching plugin. The best caching plugins will store your cache on your server’s memory. Ideally, keep to only one caching plugin for your site. More than one will likely break your website.
Caching plugins also tend to offer additional services such as:
- Image compression
- Database cleanup
You can also get these services using additional plugins, so take time to do some research on which caching plugin meets your budget and needs.
Choose your content delivery network (CDN)
Using a content delivery network is the second most common way to create a cache.
A CDN works by using a network of multiple servers around the world to store your site’s cache. When a user requests your page, the network picks a server near the user to load the cache. Storing your cache on a network of servers improves your page speed for users all around the world.
The nice part about CDNs is that you can use them along with caching plugins.
You can also use more than one CDN, which is a good idea for when you have a high-traffic website.
4. Optimize your page size
Compress your images
Your page can get bogged down because of large elements like images, GIFs, or videos.
Images, in particular, can be a lot bigger than they need to be, which can hurt your speed and your user experience. Even when images show properly in your browser, they can still have bigger file sizes that are necessary. When you don’t compress files, it slows your page down.
Some good online sites you can use to compress your images are:
Other than compressing your files, you can do what’s called a lazy load to speed up your pages. Lazy loading means that the files you have off-screen don’t immediately load upon page-load. Instead, they’ll load right before they appear on your user’s screen as they scroll.
Some caching plugins like WP Rocket support lazy loading. Other plugins like WP YouTube Lyte allow you to lazy load YouTube videos by replacing the video with an image that looks like the video player. It only loads your video if people click on it.
You can make your homepage load faster by changing the settings so that your homepage shows either a static page or by showing excerpts or summaries of new content, like blog posts, instead.
There are a few ways to do it, but popular ones are with a “Read more” button or a […].
The TED Blog does both.
You can also decrease load speed on pages with comments by changing the setting in your WP admin that separates comments into separate pages.
5. Cut down on external resources
External resources are anything that pulls information from other sites to your site, such as Google Analytics, social sharing plugins, or even YouTube videos. These resources can slow your load speed significantly. If possible, try to host these locally if you can.
If you can’t, one option is to add common domains to your WP caching plugin’s preload setting (if it supports it) or do it manually. This is called prefetching, and it helps your page anticipate what it needs to load beforehand.
Additionally, Google has a new WP plugin called Site Kit that allows you to see data from Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and PageSpeed Insights in your WP dashboard.
You can also cut down on external resources by uploading videos to YouTube or other video hosting sites instead of hosting them on WordPress. WordPress allows you to embed videos automatically when you paste your video’s URL.
6. Install the latest WordPress update
Make sure you have the most recent WordPress update to speed up your WP website. You have to perform this manually. Your web hosting company doesn’t do it for you automatically.
So, if you’ve had your site for a while and haven’t done this before, you’ll likely need to update from PHP5.6 to PHP7.3 (good until December 2021).
Before you make the update, have a backup of your site because upgrading to the latest PHP can sometimes break your website if you have incompatible themes or plugins. Also, make sure that your web host supports that version.
You can check your current version with Display PHP Version and check your plugin and theme compatibility with PHP Compatibility Checker. After reviewing these, you can update your version in the “PHP Version Manager” in your hosting account.
7. Check your themes and plugins
Research your themes and plugins before you install them. Make sure you are using themes and plugins optimized for speed and size. Using lightweight plugins and themes can help you decrease your site’s load speed.
If you can, reduce the number of plugins you are using to only those that are needed to make your website run correctly. This is especially true for any plugins that you may have only used on one or two posts. If you’re not using them, they’re not needed.
8. Clean your database
Every few weeks or so, perform a database cleanup.
Go through this list of items and delete anything you don’t need that takes up valuable database space:
- Spam comments
- Trash posts and comments
- Post revisions
- Post drafts
- Unused database tables
- Expired transient options
Use the WP-Optimize plugin if your caching plugin doesn’t include database cleanup (though disable the caching feature if you have another caching plugin).
Time to Level Up Your Sales
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How can WebFX fix your slow WordPress site?
WebFX knows speed, optimization, and digital marketing.
We partner with companies from a range of industries to build fully optimized, award-winning websites that are fast, attractive, and pull in traffic, leads, and revenue for our clients.
We also believe in transparency, so we’ve got our speed optimization prices posted online.
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