Do you feel that the traffic on your WordPress website is falling? Is your site losing its Google SERP ranking? Either way, a slow website may be the reason.
Longer loading times may result in increased bounce rates, reduced engagement, and bad organic ranking. Furthermore, it adversely affects your revenue from the website as the organic visibility decreases.
Various studies indicate that as much as 50% of users abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Therefore, you need to keep a tight check on your website’s performance.
But why does a WordPress website slow down in the first place?
The culprit may be your host, plugins you use, and many other factors. So, in this article, I’ll discuss some of the most common reasons behind your slow WordPress website and their solutions.
But the first thing first, you have to know if your website’s performance is up to the mark. Because it is obvious, you cannot solve a problem if you do not know it exists! But how can you tell if your website is slow?
Scroll down to learn how to determine the loading speed of your website.
How to Determine if Your WordPress Website Loading Speed Is Slow
There are several online tools that can test your website’s performance and give you a clear idea of how your website is performing at the user end. Below are some such popular tools that check website speed and recommend improvement suggestions.
- Google PageSpeed Insights: Google’s PageSpeedInsight is a powerful tool to evaluate the performance of a website on mobile devices and on desktops. The tool delivers lab data about your website along with field data curated from browser experiences. The lab data helps in debugging performance issues. In contrast, the field data helps to determine if the real-world experience of your website needs improvements.
- Google Search Console Core Web Vitals: GSC Core Web Vitals is Google’s way of rating the user experience. It evaluates and rates your website’s overall user experience based on predetermined factors. These factors are directly related to the page speed and user interaction measurement. Core Web Vitals include Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay, and Cumulative Layout Shift.
- GTmetrix: GTmetrix is another reliable tool to measure the performance of your WordPress website. It generates a detailed report and provides performance scores along with recommendations to fix the existing issues. With its help, you can quickly identify the areas that require improvement and enhance the performance of your website.
- KeyCDN Performance Test: KeyCDN’s Performance test evaluates the speed of a single page from ten different global locations. It provides a detailed breakdown report of various HTTP response headers and page loading time.
Why Is Your WordPress Website Slow?
Reason #1: Bad Hosting
We all seek web hosting that fits our budget. But it certainly does not mean to blatantly hire a WordPress hosting company that doesn’t even come close to delivering what your website requires in terms of resources.
Moreover, cheap hosting often fails to provide security, guaranteed uptime, prompt support, and many essential features that directly or indirectly affect your site’s performance.
A cheap hosting may be suitable for a novice blogger who’s just stepped into the world of blogging. But as your website grows, it’ll demand more resources, enhanced security, and storage to withstand the increasing traffic.
Solution: Use A Reliable Managed WordPress Hosting
The best way to avoid hosting-related issues is to use a reliable managed WordPress hosting provider like Rocket hosting.
But the question is, how do you find high-quality WordPress hosting in the first place? The answer is straightforward, before choosing any WordPress hosting, you should do your research and read hosting reviews that discuss case studies and page speed metrics.
Avoiding cheap hosting can be another way to prevent such issues.
Moreover, you should always test the performance of your website before switching to a new host. Change your host only if you notice a significant performance improvement. Otherwise, ask for a full refund as these brands often come with a money-back guarantee.
Apart from the above, the server location is also important. Your web server should be located in the same country where your website gets the most traffic.
Reason#2: Heavy WordPress Theme
A brand-new theme can give a new look and feel to your WordPress website. However, not every new theme is worth installing, especially the free ones.
Besides, costlier themes also do not guarantee the best performance for your website. Moreover, more functionality means a heavier theme.
But how does a theme affect the performance of your website?
There are various factors that can corrupt a WordPress theme. Some of the reasons include poor coding, outdated versions, bugs, faulty encryption, etc. Such themes will delay the loading time and thus slow down your website. Not just that, some of the features of your website will also stop working if you have installed a faulty WordPress theme.
Solution: Select An Appropriate Theme
Avoid feature-rich themes as they are generally heavy and require additional resources.
Use tools like pingdom to determine the actual page size and the number of requests required to load a web page. The less the number the better it is for user experience.
Also make sure you delete all the unused themes. It will clear the unnecessary burden from the server and enhance the overall speed of your website.
Reason #3: Unnecessary Use of Plugins and Scripts
Plugins are handy when it comes to enhancing the functionality of your WordPress website. But it is worth mentioning here that having too many plugins can drastically slow down the loading speed no matter how fast the internet is on the user end.
Not just that, it will also increase the loading time for your website if you have installed a poorly coded or outdated plugin.
Besides, plugins increase the risk of conflicting codes, making it more difficult to load pages even with good hosting. Heavy plugins, like the page builders and the ones that provide all-in-one solutions, usually make it difficult for the web pages to load quickly.
Solution: Disable Any Plugins You’re Not Using
Installing unnecessary, broken, poorly coded, or outdated plugins can clutter your website and prolong the loading time for it. Therefore, only install plugins from reputed vendors.
Avoid installing all-in-one plugins as they heavily stall your website’s loading speed. And if not, use plugins that let you manually turn on and off the features that you want or do not want to use.
Reason #4: No CDN
When a user visits your website, the browser on the user end sends a request to fetch the files from the server. This data includes static files like images, videos, texts, scripts, etc. For a website with too many files, scripts, and other data, it takes a lot of time to retrieve and deliver the content on the user end. But not if you are using a CDN service.
A CDN creates multiple copies of static assets and distributes them among several data centers to facilitate faster transfer rates.
We all know that the data delivery rate depends on the distance between the server and the browser. A CDN reduces this distance significantly. However, the performance of CDN depends on two main factors: the number of data centers and how uniformly these data centers are positioned around the globe.
Solution: Use A Hosting That Includes CDN Services
By using a CDN service, you can improve the page loading speed significantly. To make things even easier, many managed WordPress hosting providers offer built-in CDN. It keeps you free from all the worries of employing external CDN services, which incurs additional costs.
But how do you know if your existing host includes a CDN? More importantly, is the speed of your website good from different global locations?
A simple solution could be using the GTmetrix performance test.
The Top Issues section under the Summary tab will prompt whether you need a CDN or not. As you can see from the screenshot above, this test website requires a CDN service.
If your website targets global users, a CDN is a must-have for you. So, look for a hosting provider that offers built-in CDN services.
Reason #5: Uncompressed Images
Images play a crucial part in enhancing the user engagement of your website. Therefore it is natural that every website owner wants to have plenty of high-definition images on their website.
But in the wake of having the best quality image on their site, people often forget how much of their web page size increases due to these pictures. And it eventually slows down the loading speed of the website.
Besides, images and other media files slow down the loading speed of a web page significantly. Therefore, instead of enhancing the user experience, adding too many heavy images to your website will increase the loading time of web pages.
Solution: Compress and Optimize Your Files
It is essential to use neat and clean, high-quality images on your website to deliver a better user experience. Therefore, you should always resize and compress the media files to ensure the better loading speed and performance of your website.
You can use image optimization plugins like ShortPixel to automatically optimize the quality of image files on your WordPress website.
The free version comes with 100 free credits/month which is more than enough for most of the users.
Time to Take an Action
Now that you know some of the most important issues that might be responsible for slowing down a WordPress website, you can save your website from losing its speed and performance by employing the necessary resorts well in advance.
You can perform all these tests yourself or ask a developer who can advise you to address the main issues.