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“Why is my WordPress site so slow?”

If you found yourself asking this question more than once in the last few days, there’s reason to worry. Especially when studies show that most users leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load on their phone.

A WordPress site that loads slowly does more than just drive away website traffic. It even impacts your SEO efforts since website speed is an important factor in how Google and other search engines rank your website. 

How can you check if your WordPress website is running slow, and what are the top reasons for it?

Let’s discuss that, and more, in the following sections.

How to check your WordPress loading time

As an online business owner, you must keep track of your website loading speed and time. Fortunately, there are plenty of free tools that can check for WordPress loading speed. Here are a few of the popular ones that you can try:

  • GTMetrix can test your website speed and provide a detailed report about your site performance.
  • WebPageTest where you need to simply enter your website URL and your browser – and find out your WordPress site performance.
  • Pingdom is another free tool to check your website’s speed.

Use any of these tools to quickly determine your website loading time. 

But why is my WordPress site slow?”

To save you from endless searches on Google to figure out the exact problem, here’s a handy list of 10 possible reasons why your website might be slow. 

Why is your WordPress site so slow?

1. Too many plugins

If you got carried away and installed too many WordPress plugins on your website, it could be the reason for your website taking a lot of time to load. 

This is because too many plugins can slow down any WordPress site and its response time — simply because not all plugins are optimized for performance. The best thing to do is to limit plugins to around 5 to 10 and to prioritize those that are optimized for fast loading. 

2. Using poor-quality plugins and themes

If you find your WordPress site suddenly very slow, it could be that latest snazzy plugin or theme you recently installed. Website speed can also be impacted by poor-quality plugins/themes from untrusted developers. 

Consider replacing these low-quality plugins/themes with “lightweight” plugins/themes that can perform the same function.

3. Poor web host

High-quality and reliable hosting is the foundation of a smooth and fast website. A WordPress slow server response time is a sign of hosting that may not be the best fit for your WordPress site.

This is because not all WordPress hosting platforms are designed for WordPress websites, or optimized for consistently high server efficiency. For example, web hosts that continue to use outdated technology, or share their server resources across multiple hosted sites can impact your site loading speed.

If you are running your website on a shared host, it might be a good time to consider hosting your website on quality web hosts like Lyrical Host or Siteground that take care of site speed and performance.

4. Hidden malware

One of the lesser-known reasons for low website speed is malware (short for malicious software) that can remain hidden or undetected on your site — for days or even weeks. All this while they damage your site in “stealth” mode. The problem is most of the standard website scanning or security tools are unable to detect hidden malware until it is too late. 

Additionally, WordPress comes with its own set of security challenges.  Given its popularity, hackers are coming up with increasingly innovative ways to damage sites built using WordPress. 

Security plugins like MalCare or Sucuri that are designed to work for maximum WordPress security are a worthwhile investment, not just for website speed considerations, but also for the overall security of your site.

5. Unnecessary JavaScript or long CSS

JavaScript and CSS files are an integral part of any website as they determine the overall look and functionality. WordPress sites are no different. However, over usage of both JavaScript and CSS are known to slow down websites. 

You should consider compressing and minifying JavaScript and CSS files to reduce their file sizes and speed up your site. For example, gzip compression can improve site response by up to 90%.

6. Not optimizing images

There’s no denying that images can improve the overall appeal of any WordPress site, but too many of them can weigh your website down. Check if your WordPress site has too many unoptimized images that have large file sizes. 

If yes, consider optimizing them using tools like ShortPixel or the WP Optimize plugin. 

7. Not using caching plugins

Caching is a common speed improvement technique that is used to deliver page content faster to repeat visitors. It ensures that your web server is not utilized for delivering already viewed content. If you have not yet implemented caching, it is likely to slow down the delivery of website content to users.

To enable caching, you can install a WordPress caching plugin like W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache that can automate the caching mechanism and improve website loading speed.

8. Not using CDN

Do visitors from other countries access your website? Then you must consider using a Content Delivery Network (or CDN) service that is a global network of web servers delivering your content from the nearest geographical location. 

(Source: Freepik)

You can implement CDN services using third-party providers like Cloudflare or KeyCDN.

9. Not updating WordPress core, plugins, and themes

Despite being the most repeated piece of WordPress advice, too many WordPress users ignore Outdated software versions — of WordPress, your plugins, and themes –  are not optimized for performance and can slow down your WordPress site. 

Make it a part of your website maintenance plan to regularly update your WordPress site to optimize its speed and performance. You can easily run updates from your WP hosting account. 

Don’t forget about updating your Core WordPress along with plugins/themes to avoid any incompatibility issues. Managing multiple websites and manually updating them seems tedious? Consider using a WordPress management plugin like WPManage.

10. Running too many external scripts

Are you running a lot of external elements hosted on other web servers on your website? This can include external videos, images, and links. While external elements like useful links can improve your SEO ranking, they can also overload your web server with too many requests. 

(Source: Freepik)

To eliminate this, you should limit the number of external scripts to only the few that you absolutely need – and host the majority of your content on your own server.

While this is not an exhaustive list of reasons why a WordPress website loads very slowly, it does a great job of covering the biggest mistakes most website users make.

Now, to the important bit: making WordPress load faster!

How to make WordPress site load faster

(Source: Freepik)

1. Use plugins that don’t affect site loading

Remember when we told you too many plugins can reduce your website speed? While that’s true, we also understand that multiple plugins play an important role in upkeeping a website. This includes plugins that claim to improve your site loading speed. 

The only way to decide if you’re going overboard with your website plugins is by determining if you need it, or if it’s just another “nice to have”. 

Always, look for frequently updated plugins that are optimized for fast loading.

2. Use a security plugin that doesn’t slow down your site

While security plugins are a great way to uncover hidden malware on your site, they could cause another issue. Their malware scanning processes could, in turn, overload your server or slow down your site. There are solutions to this though. 

For instance, the MalCare security plugin runs malware scanning and cleaning on their dedicated servers, thus freeing your internal webserver. 

3. Uninstall or disable unused plugins

Have you installed a large number of plugins on your WordPress site? Even if they are not used, all installed plugins are still loaded each time your website is accessed by a user.

Unused plugins can consume web server resources and bandwidth, thus slowing down your website. Take regular stock of your installed plugins and remove or disable those plugins that are outdated or no longer serve your website’s purpose. 

4. Use lazy loading

Imagine a web page showing a placeholder initially to the site visitor, and later loading the image when the visitor scrolls to see it. That is lazy loading for you.

By reducing the initial web page load time, lazy loading is a proven method for improving image loading speeds and reducing the website loading time. For lazy loading of images on WordPress websites, you can use a caching plugin like WP Rocket or any image compression tool.

5. Optimize WordPress database.

Finally, WordPress sites could load slowly because of an over-bloated database containing plenty of old or unnecessary records.

WordPress database optimization can help in removing unwanted database records and reducing its overall size. This can, in turn, lead to faster loading. The best way to optimize your WordPress database is by installing the WP-Optimize database plugin.

Wrapping up

With everything else that you need to do to run a successful online business, it can be tempting to dismiss website speed issues or deprioritize them. A fast website that delights your users, and improves your search engine rankings is as big a part of running your business as, say publishing content for your blog, or improving your services. 

Don’t let a slow website be the reason you’re missing your business goals. 

Are there any tips you have for improving the speed of a WordPress website? Please share them in the comments below. 


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