Having to deal with a slow WordPress website is a nightmare to many website owners and agencies. WordPress is a great platform for both building blogs and business websites but when left unattended, speed can be a real issue.
Each day, as a WordPress website maintenance company, we get a number of chat request from small business owners and bloggers saying: “… my wordpress site is very slow, wordpress site loading slow…. or …. my revenue has gone down, could this be because my wordpress site running slow?…”
There are tons of slow wordpress websites on the web including very popular blogs. What the owners don’t know is that every extra second their blogs or wordpress sites take to load, they are loosing revenue.
Did you know that your slow WordPress site is harming your business in so many ways?
Before we start fixing wordpress slow loading problem, let see why you should care about running a slow wordpress blog or website.
Why You Need To Speed Up WordPress Website Fast!
I know that you have read thousands of articles and books that cite the reasons as to why you need to make your wordpress site faster. Here are the two core reasons why you should ditch everything else and focus on improving your website speeds.
Potential Customers Are Abandoning Your Site – You Are Loosing Money
As I have indicated above if your wordpress site is running slow, visitors are abandoning your website and going to the competition. Nobody has the time to wait for your website to load! That is the naked truth.
Think it of this way: If you are the one visiting a slow website, would you waste your time waiting for the site to load while you can visit other five or so websites and get what you were looking for? I bet you wouldn’t!
According to the reports by the two main search engines (bing and google), slow speeds affect website clicks and hence conversions.
If you have not been taking the site speed seriously, you need to start. You should drop everything else and learn how to optimize wordpress website speed.
Just some simple tweaks can increase your revenues by 4.8%. Wouldn’t that be amazing?
Google Frowns Upon Slow Loading Websites – Forget The Rankings
Yes! Speed is a new ranking factor! No matter how great content you have on your website or how much you pay for Search Engine Optimization, your slow website won’t rank.
If search engines frowns upon your slow WordPress website, you have to do something about it if you need to get ‘free traffic’ or visitors from Google and Bing. Notice how I have used the word ‘free’ here.
From my viewpoint, organic traffic has been always been the best way to make money online. You optimize your website once and customers will come calling.
These are some of the two reasons you need to fix your slow WordPress site or hire a wordpress speed optimization service now.
Lets look on how you can improve your WordPress running speed in a few steps. This is your perfect guide on how to make your WordPress site fast.
Diagnosing Your Slow Loading WordPress Website
If you are wondering: why my wordpress site is very slow and how can I fix loading speed, let get started on issues that might be making your WordPress site run slow.
PS: Diasnosing a slow wordpress on your own is a trial and error process. There is no definitive time on how soon you can fix a slow wordpress website on your own. Here are number of things that might be causing your site to run slow.
1. Rule Out Slow Internet Connection
This might sound lame, but I always advise non-technical website owners to first checkout the speed of their internet connection before starting troubleshooting their sites.
How do you know whether your wordpress site is running slow or it is an issue with internet connection? There are number of ways you can test your website speed these include: GT Metrix and Pingdom Speed Test .
These are the two most important tools used in WordPress perfomance tuning. You can use both GT Metrix and Pingdom but work with each at a time. On each site, all you have to do is to enter the URL of your website to do the analysis.
Each will provide you with the improvements needed for your website.
Here is a screenshot of what you will expect on both sites.
Example Of a Pingdom – Slow WordPress Site Speed Test
For starters you need to be concerned about: Performance Grade and Load Time.
1. Performance grade: An A or B will be great.
2. Load time: This should be below 1.5 seconds. Anything higher than this figure is not good your online business.
3. Performance Insights: You will use this recommendation to improve your wordpress site speed. If it gets too technical, you can always get help with a WordPress website speed consultant.
Improving Slow WordPress Loading Speed With GTmetrix
GTmetrix has two performance scores: PageSpeed Score and YSlow Score. The are two indicators of how fast or slow your wordpress site is. Checkout the screenshot below:
Once you have confirmed that your wordpress website is running slow, it is time you started fixing it. Below is a list of things that may be making your WordPress site to run slow. It is advisable you try out each fix and see if there is any improvement.
2. Too Many Unnecessary Plugins Installed
WordPress plugins are great for extending the features of your website or blog, but if too many plugins are installed on your site, they can really slow the loading time of your website.
You need to be sure that you have only installed the plugins that you need. Once you have uninstalled all the plugins that you don’t need, it is time you checkout the effect of each active plugin on your website load time.
So how do you know what plugins are slowing down your WordPress website?
You need to try deactivating each plugin at a time and then perfom a speed test again. It might sound like alot of work, but this is what you need to diagnose why your website is so slow.
Once you identify the culprit, find an alternative plugin – you should find one with similar features but less resource intensive.
3. A Poorly Coded / Designed WordPress Theme
Using a poorly designed or coded wordpress theme is at times a great contributor to slow wordpress site speed.
Statistically over 10% of wordpress sites running slow on the internet today is due to the use or unoptimized or poorly coded theme. I know this can come as a shocker knowing how people love the ‘free themes’.
Most free and low priced themes available are slow and are not good for your website conversions. If your website is running slow, you should consider switching to a more updated theme or an online business optimized theme.
A good theme will cost you somewhere between $60 to $120. It wouldn’t hurt to invest in one. Furthermore, you are building a business online.. Right?
Avoid themes with no developer support: One thing you should consider while getting a new theme for your website is whether the theme developer provides support or not.
Avoid themes packed with custom features: From experience custom feature themes are troublesome. Find a simple theme but optimized theme and find a plugin that fits the functionality you are looking for.
What is minification? This is the process of removing unnecessary lines of code, white spaces on your CSS and JS files. Google has provided an insight on the tools you can use to fix this on your own. Check out Google recommendations here.
PS: In some case, by minifying CSS files alone, we have seen an increase in website speeds upto 2.5 times. But again, every case is different.
5. A Bloated WordPress Site Database
How long have you been running your site? How many posts, pages, and comments do you have in there?
Well, if you have been running your website for sometime you might have: Switched themes, installed and unistalled a number of plugins, gotten a number of comments, and or created pages and posts for your site.
These are some of the actions that create database records and over time, your database might become bloated (particularly if you are still using shared hosting). You need to optimize your website’s database to remove the bloat.
This can be done manually but might be overwhelming for a non-technical website owner. Luckily for you, WP Optimize is a free wordpress plugin that allows you optimize your website in a simple step.
You might also look at WP-DB Manager plugin. This allows you to schedule database optimization.
Note that database optimization is not a one time procedure, you need to keep doing it now and then. You can consider hiring a WordPress website maintenance company to take care of your website (speed, backups, security, edits, and general optimizations) all around the clock.
6. Poorly Optimized Images
Have a number of images on your WordPress website? Of course you do! Visuals are critical to increasing site conversion and SEO.
Well if the images you are using on your site are not optimized, they are increasing the website load times. I am ussually surprised when I get emails from our visitors complaining about slow WordPress websites when they are running a site with over 50 articles (pages and posts) each with an image with over 100KB.
I have seen cases where website owners are using 1.5MB images on their websites. This is super-resource intensive.
You need to optimize your images for faster loading times. How do I do this? WP-SmushIt is a free WordPress plugin that will take the pain of image optimization from you.
Lazy Load Images: Have you ever heard about lazy loading images? If you have not, you can impliment this on your wordpress website to only load the resources the user requires.
To impliment lazy loading on a wordress website, you will need to use a free plugin: jQuery Image Lazy Load available in the WordPress plugin repository.
7. Unnecessary Redirects, Pingbacks and Trackbacks
You need to impliment appropriate redirects to deleted pages and articles which you have edited their urls. This is because in as much it affects your site speed, visitors landing on deleted or undesired pages on your website is bad for your image.
When it comes to redirects, each issue is treated differently. For example, you might have noticed that you have edited urls of a page that has been linked a number of times by other websites. These might be causing 404 page errors or 301 redirects. If redirects are not configured properly, you will use more resources to fetch a page that doesn’t exist. This can affect your site speeds considerably.
Pingbacks and Trackbacks: This is a system of notification that works on all WordPress websites unless they have been turned off.
8. Content Delivery Networks, Caching and Gzip Compression
I bet you have either heard these two terms: CDN and Caching. These two terms have been used in millions of guides on how to make a wordpress website faster.
CDN: This is a short form of Content Delivery Network. CDN like Cloudflare and KeyCDN help your website load faster based on the location of your website visitors.
While a CDN is used with a great wordpress plugin (I recommend W3 Total Cache) both will improve the speed of your wordpress website considerably.
Today, most browsers support Gzip Compression. Gzip compression helps in reducing data redundancy and hence making your website load faster.
9. Outdated PHP Version or WordPress Installation
If you are not using PHP 7 and above, you are missing out. Using previous and unsupported versions of php can cause incompatibilies in your server making your website load slow.
You need to talk to your hosting provider to have the latest php installed on your website.
In the case of outdated WordPress core, all you need to do is to access your admin panel and update the wordpress installation. Be careful to backup your website performing an update.
10. Website Hosted On a Slow Server
Have you tried all the above fixed to improve your website load time to no avail? Then you definitely need to perform a hardware upgrade. If you are on a VPS or a dedicated server, this will be easy for you.
If you are running your site on a shared hosting, then the slow website speed is signal that you need to upgrade to a better hosting service. Alternatively, talk to your current hosting provider to see if you can get more server resources allocated to your website.
If possible, you should consider a managed wordpress hosting service like WPEngine or Kinsta.
Happy fixing your wordpress speed. If you need help in keeping your wordpress website in a perfect shape, our website maintenance services will come in handy. You will never have to worry about, hackers, malware, or a slow website website ever again.