How to speed up a slow loading Wordpress site
Wordpress is the favorite Content management system of millions around the world and the largest percentage of websites on the internet are made using Wordpress. However, wordpress websites can be frequently affected by higher loading times due to many factors. Wordpress relies on PHP and mysql to deliver website content and there are several solutions to help speed up Wordpress. In some cases, while just upgrading your server or adding resources may be sufficient, in others you may need to analyze your website properly to find out the culprit.
A slow-loading WordPress site can be caused by various factors. Here are some common reasons and solutions to help you speed up your WordPress website:
1. Web Hosting:
Issue: Low-quality or shared hosting can result in slow loading times.
Solution: Consider upgrading to a reliable and faster hosting provider. Managed WordPress hosting can offer optimized servers for better performance. There are several well known managed hosting providers that provide dedicated Wordpress hosting. Some of them offer affordably priced entry level plans for beginners. Moreover, you do not have to make any server side optimizations in case of managed hosting as they have the server optimized for you already.
If you want to start a simple Wordpress website, Siteground hosting for Wordpress can be a good option which starts from $3.99/month and includes free cdn, free ssl and free WP installation as well as several more features. There are many more managed hosting providers for wordpress in the market including WP Engine, Kinsta and so on. Select a good quality host which offers speed solutions like caching, cdn and other features to speed up loading times of your Wordpress website.
2. Large Images:
Issue: Large, uncompressed images can slow down page loading.
Solution: Use image compression tools or plugins to optimize images before uploading. Additionally, consider lazy loading images to load them only when they come into the user’s viewport. Images are a significant part of any webpage and affect loading times significantly.
In a large number of cases, unoptimized and uncompressed images are the main cause behind slow loading Wordpress websites. So, first you should use an image compression plugin or service to compress and optimize the images you upload to Wordpress. There are several image compression and optimization plugins for Wordpress to help you change PNG and JPEG images to WebP and compress them. WebP formats can help you save disk space and improve page loading times since they allow for higher compression compared to the other formats.
Otherwise, you can use external solutions to offload images like Amazon S3 bucket or cdn services like SIRV. This will keep your Wordpress installation lighter and make your web pages load faster.
3. Too Many Plugins:
Issue: Having too many plugins, especially poorly coded ones, can impact performance.
Solution: Deactivate and uninstall unnecessary plugins. Evaluate the performance impact of each plugin and consider using lightweight alternatives. Check out all the plugins you have on your website and consider keeping only the necessary ones. If there are any plugins not used regularly, you can at least keep them deactivated and activate when they are needed.
Do not keep installing unnecessary plugins since they leave behind tables and data in the Mysql database, which can also make your website load slower. Only install the plugins with a good reputation since plugins especially the poorly coded ones will not just slow down your Wordpress but can also compromise Wordpress security. Deactivate all of your plugins and then activate them one by one to see which one may be having the most significant impact on Wordpress speed. Try to use lightweight alternatives for the heavy plugins.
4. Unoptimized Database:
Issue: Over time, your WordPress database may become bloated.
Solution: Wordpress Mysql database has a central role in terms of website speed and keeping it optimized is essential for website performance and a good user experience. Optimize your database using plugins like WP-Optimize or by manually cleaning up unused data and post revisions. Due to plugins like Wp-Optimize, it is easier to regularly clean and optimize your database.
However, you can clean and optimize the database yourself through the PHPMyAdmin as well. Some of the caching plugins like WP Rocket also have features to optimize the database. Regularly optimize your database using one of these plugins. When you delete a plugin or theme from your website, make sure to also delete its tables and data from the Wordpress database.
5. External Embedded Media:
Issue: Embedding external media, especially from slow or unreliable sources, can slow down your site.
Solution: Host media files locally whenever possible. If using external sources, ensure they are fast and reliable. People embed content and media from social media channels. While some of them may be reliable and would not affect Wordpress speed significantly, others can.
Moreover, when loading media from external resources, the server needs to perform extra steps to show embedded content. So, where possible use hyperlinks instead of embeds. Sometimes people totally disable embeds on their websites using a plugin so that embeds do not slow down their website.
6. Too Many HTTP Requests:
Issue: Each element on a webpage (images, stylesheets, scripts) results in an HTTP request, and too many requests can slow down loading times.
If you are somehow unable to reduce the number of http requests on your website, just make sure that your website uses a CDN. However, do eliminate unnecessary images and resize your images. You can also use a plugin like WP Assets Cleanup to identify any files that are not relevant and can be prevented from loading on each page.
7. Outdated WordPress Version:
Issue: Running an outdated WordPress version may expose your site to security vulnerabilities and impact performance.
Solution: Always keep WordPress, themes, and plugins up to date to benefit from performance improvements and security fixes. It is important for both speed and security. Update your core Wordpress whenever a new update is released. Before making the update, run a backup of your website. Don’t run outdated Wordpress versions on your website. The latest version may have critical security and speed updates.
Also make sure that the plugins installed on your Wordpress website are all updated. Install the plugin versions that have been updated and are compatible with the latest Wordpress version. If you have a plugin that has not been updated to be compatible with the latest version of wordpress, remove it or substitute it with another since it can impact both performance and security.
8. Uncached Content:
Issue: Serving dynamic content without caching can lead to slower page loads.
Solution: Implement caching using plugins like W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache. Consider using a content delivery network (CDN) to cache static content globally. Caching is critical for improving load times of your Wordpress pages. You can use a free caching plugin or a premium plugin like WP Rocket to speed up Wordpress website. However, instead of relying only on plane and simple caching, use object caching also to speed up your Wordpress website.
Using object caching on your website will significantly improve load times. You can use either redis or memcached on your website. Some hosting providers also offer free redis caching. However, if redis is not installed on your server, you can ask your host about it and if you have a dedicated server, installing either redis or memcached is easy.
9. Poorly Coded Theme:
Issue: A poorly coded or resource-intensive theme can slow down your site.
Solution: Choose a well-optimized theme or consider hiring a developer to optimize your existing theme. A poorly coded theme is generally one of the biggest culprits when it comes to slow loading Wordpress sites. So, make sure that you have a fast and responsive wordpress theme, which is optimized to provide superfast loading speed. You can consider using Astra or Generatepress. However, there are some more things, which you can find in the wordpress theme repository in the popular themes section.
10. External Embedded Scripts:
Issue: Scripts from external sources can impact page loading times.
Solution: Host scripts locally whenever possible. Minimize the use of external scripts, especially those that are not essential for the initial page load. This can be a bit technical for most users. However, there are a few plugins in the Wordpress repository that can help you host analytics code and Google fonts locally.
For example, you can use either the premium perfmatters plugin to host the analytics code locally or the CAOS plugin. If there are any such scripts on your website that you can manage without then remove those scripts since they have a significant impact on loading times.
11. Too Many Widgets:
Issue: Excessive use of widgets, especially complex ones, can slow down your site.
Solution: Limit the number of widgets on your pages and use them judiciously. Many times people include just too many widgets on their websites to make them look attractive. However, more widgets in the sidebar and footer will only slow down your website. Do not just try any fancy looking widget on your blog.
In most cases, you have to use a plugin to apply a widget like for social sharing, showing related posts and so on. Unnecessary widgets or too many widgets will slow down your wordpress on both the front and the backend.
You can use a plugin to disable unnecessary widgets on your wordpress dashboard as well. On the front end, load only the essential widgets. If possible try to keep the number of widgets loading on the front end to as low as possible.
12. Server Location:
Issue: The physical location of your server can affect loading times for users in different geographic locations.
Solution: Choose a hosting provider with servers located closer to your target audience or consider using a CDN to distribute content globally. If you are targeting users in the US, you must select a server location in the US and the zone where your audience is located.
Most hosting providers have this option and you can choose to host your website closest to your target audience. If users in a particular geography are experiencing slower loading times, you can use a global cdn service like Cloudflare, Cloudfront or Bunny CDN to speed up the loading time across all geographies.
The selection of your server location can have a major impact on the loading times in targeted geographical locations.
- Issue: Not enabling Gzip or Brotli compression can affect page loading times.
- Solution: Use Gzip or Brotli compression to compress pages and load them faster. Compression can significantly reduce the size of website files. Reducing the size of website files being transferred between the server and the browser will help improve page loading times. Before you make any changes to your website, use an online tool like Gift of speed to check if Gzip is already enabled on your website.
If not you can use a plugin to add Gzip compression to your website. Most caching plugins include this feature. Otherwise, you can edit the .htaccess file to enable GZIP support by adding the following code.
# Enable Gzip Compression
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
If you are on an Apache server, you can also enable Brotli compression, which offers even better performance than GZIP. Brotli compression can also be enabled on Nginx which is a little bit more technical than enabling it on Apache. However, an even easier method to enable Brotli for your Wordpress blog is to use Cloudflare’s Brotli feature.
Regularly monitoring your site’s performance using tools like Google PageSpeed Insights, Pingdom or GTmetrix can help identify specific areas for improvement. Additionally, consider consulting with a developer or performance optimization specialist for a more in-depth analysis. Most of the above suggested configurations and changes are easy to perform and you can do them yourself. Using a cdn may sometimes help you gain the much needed speed boost and if you have too many images on your wordpress blog, offloading them to an S3 bucket or other fast image hosting solution might work. Check out to know which factor is slowing down the website and then apply the appropriate remedy.