Why is my website slow? Well lets figure out why. Below are the most common reasons for a slow loading website, and what you can do to fix it.
This article was written with WordPress users in mind, but if you aren’t using WordPress and your website is slow the same information applies. If you need help increasing your page speed score, or can’t find reliable information to get the help you need, please reach out to me (email in footer) or drop a comment below!
How to fix a slow WordPress website?
Below are the most common reasons for a slow WordPress website. (The top 4 reasons are typically going to have the biggest impact.)
1. Website Hosting
Oftentimes overlooked, hosting plays a big role when it comes to loading speed. I’ve used many different hosting providers in my career as a developer. GoDaddy, Host Gator, Cloudways, Bluehost, Hawkhost… I’ve even setup my own server. When it comes to WordPress the best I’ve come across is SiteGround. Personally, I think the dashboard is a million times better than traditional cPanel. It also has speed enhancement features that you can use right at your disposal. Not to mention how easy it is to setup a CDN and the amazing plugin they provide with their services.
Server congestion is the most common reason for this. While, this may be partially dependent on the package you choose, it’s wise to know that popular hosting companies are typically shared servers and there are a lot of other people using the same servers that your site is hosted at.
For some, changing your hosting providers may seem like a daunting or unlikely task. It’s worth mentioning that SiteGround does have a pretty easy to use migration tool, that makes transferring sites as easy as a few clicks.
If you follow all of the steps throughout this post you will certainly see speed improvements on your site. But if you’ve done everything to a T and still not getting the result you’re looking for. I would consider upgrading your hosting provider. Here’s a link to SiteGround if needed.
The fix: Switch to a hosting plan with Dedicated server resources and solid server specs.
2. Bloated Theme
This is a big one. The theme you or your developer chooses to use is going to matter a lot. The market is flooded with thousands of themes boasting great performance and cool features but in reality, how many of those features are you actually going to use? Any page builder is going to have a ton of unnecessary code loading in the background. If this sounds like your site than chances are your theme is likely causing you troubles.
It’s pretty unlikely that you’re going to have perfect page speed scores if you’re using a bloated theme; even if you do make every enhancement possible.
The fix: Use a theme with less bloat and smaller file size. GeneratePress is my personal favorite. And for Ecommerce sites, Flatsome is a solid choice.
3. Too Many Plugins
Too many plugins causes more scripts to run in the background. By limiting the number of plugins you have running on your website you’ll be reducing the amount of load that happens before or after your page has fully populated.
The fix: Remove as many unnecessary plugins as you can.
4. Unoptimized Images
This is the most common and of the simplest solutions to increase your loading speed. Large images take longer for the browser to render so it’s important to optimize them before publishing to your website. You can check if you have unoptimized images by heading over to Page Speed Insights or GTMetrix. Simply type in your website URL and if the report says you have poorly optimized images then you’ll want to correct that.
In that page speed report you might have noticed a suggestion to serve your images as .webp files. You can do this with the imagify plugin above or use an all-in-one plugin like SG optimizer (free with siteground) or WP Rocket (premium) to do everything all at once.
The fix: Install a plugin like WP Rocket, Smush, Imagify, or SG Optimizer to bulk optimize your images and convert them to WebP files.
5. Unoptimized Code
The fix: Use dev tools in chrome to figure out what lines of code aren’t being used. Then also make sure you minify your JS and CSS files.
6. Use of Flash Content
If your website is using flash, it’s a good idea to remove it. It’s slow, inefficient a security problem and there is certainly a better solution to whatever you are using if for anyway.
The fix: Remove Flash. Because no one likes it anyway.
7. Un-cached Content
Using a caching plugin for WordPress is a good idea and will improve your loading times substantially. In short, cache is a way of temporarily storing data for later use. When a visitor enters your website and then returns, rather than reloading all the assets on your server the browser will return a cached version of the page. This way all of that information doesn’t have to load again. A good plugin to use would be W3 Total Cache, or WP Super Cache. I typically run WP Super Cache, and then once installed I’ll just check all the recommended boxes. If you’re using SiteGround hosting, you’ll be able to set up caching very easy with their provided plugin.
The fix: Use a caching plugin to serve pre-rendered versions of your site to returning visitors.
8. Excessive HTTP Requests
Another common issue with sites are too many HTTP requests. This is likely due to the site having too many plugins, or external scripts running in the background. Every time you add a script that makes a request to another server your going to add loading time to your webpage. You can remedy this by checking to see how many requests your site is making. Open up dev tools again (ctrl + shift + i) Now click the “Network” tab and then click “All”. If nothing populate, refresh the page. This is a list of all the requests being made on that page, how long it takes and a waterfall view of each in order. Go through and see if there is anything unnecessary that you can remove.
The fix: Minimize the amount of HTTP requests by eliminating plugins, scripts and other files you don’t need. You can get an idea of these requests by using dev tools network tab.
9. Excessive Advertising
If you run a blog page, it’s possible your website is slow because of too many ads running on the site. These, like the issue above are loading in the background and causing your site to load slower. If you have a lot of adverting, consider limiting that if you can.
The fix: Consider limiting the amount of ads that run on your website.
10. Not Utilizing CDN Services
A CDN or content delivery network is something we use for all of the website we build. A good CDN like Cloudflare will have multiple servers across the country. When you sign up for their services and connect your website, you will be able to store cached versions of your website on their servers. Once a user loads your website, they will get a copy of your website from the nearest CDN server closest to their location. This will minimize the response time and allow for a faster loading website.
The fix: Use a CDN to deliver content to your users quickly
There are many different reasons your website may be loading slow. The most common reasons for this however is due to poorly optimized images, too many plugins, a bloated WordPress theme or bad web hosting. If you do happen to have a slow website then you should run your URL through Google page speed insights. Or GTMetrix – both free tools to use. And then once you have an idea of what is causing the issues scrub through the list above and analyze further to see what steps you can do to remedy the errors. It’s not always easy to fix a slow website… that’s happens mostly when your using a bloated theme, coupled with a bunch of scripts and plugins. If you can’t or don’t want to remove these scripts or plugins then you’ll probably need a developer to rebuild your site with a better optimized theme.
If you have any questions or wondering to yourself “why is my website slow”. Reach out to me in the comments below because I’d love to help answer those questions and give my advice.