Why is my WordPress website slow?

Slow WordPress sites can negatively impact SEO and user experience, so it is very important to do your best to optimize your site’s speed. In this article, we’ll help you determine how to gauge the speed of your site and provide some tips on improving the speed.

How do I know if my site is slow?

“Slow” is a relative term, so how can you tell if your site’s speed can be improved? The obvious answer is to test the site yourself and listen to user feedback, but also to use free tools that provide some metrics. For example, Google offers Pagespeed Insights,  a free tool that analyzes your site and provides some suggestions.

What’s slowing down my site?

Once you’ve determined there is room for improvement, knowing the contributing factors to slower performance can help you optimize your site. A few of the most common causes are:

  • Not serving cached webpages
  • Poor or improper configuration of your web server
  • Too many plugins or poorly designed plugins
  • Large page sizes
  • Too many scripts or ads on a page
  • Too many large images on a page

What can I do to make my site faster?

You can do a number of things to improve site speed. Below are some of the most common.

Keep your site updated

Make sure to always keep your WordPress site and plugins up to date. This is low hanging fruit that all sites can benefit from, but it can be easy to forget. Ideally, configure your WordPress site and plugins to auto-update and monitor things to make sure the updates work as planned. Be sure to have backups of your WordPress site just in case.

Use a caching plugin like WP SuperCache

WP Super Cache or similar caching plugins can significantly improve your WordPress site’s performance. In a nutshell, when using a caching plugin, static HTML pages are created that can be served from your web server instead of the more resource-intensive PHP scripts, thereby increasing performance.

Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) like CloudFlare

A CDN helps optimize your WordPress site speed and performance by storing your static content at various locations worldwide. Sites have been reported loading twice as fast after enabling CloudFlare. CloudFlare is available FREE* to HostPapa Business and Business Pro plan customers.

CDNs can also help mitigate others hotlinking or leeching images from your site. Hotlinking can be costly, in terms of site performance as well as money: when others link to an image hosted on your servers, they use YOUR bandwidth and computing resources. For more on hotlinking and how a CDN can protect you, check out this article from CloudFlare.

Make long pages into multiple pages

Large pages take longer to load. Using pagination is a simple way to address this problem. When your pages are too long, use <!–nextpage–> in your HTML code to split them up and improve performance.

Make sure the images on your site are optimized for speed

Images are often a must for WordPress sites, but that can hamper speed. Optimizing images for speed can allow you to use images without significantly impacting your site’s speed. A popular plugin for image compression and optimization is Smush Image Compression and Optimization.

Don’t upload videos, embed them

Videos are usually large, resource intensive files that can really slow down your WordPress site if you host them on your web server. Instead, load the video file to a video hosting service like YouTube or Vimeo and embed the link on your WordPress site. Check out this article to learn how to embed YouTube videos to your WordPress site.

Use speed optimized themes and plugins

It is not unheard of for very aesthetically pleasing themes to be more resource intensive and to negatively impact the site’s speed. When selecting a theme, be sure to choose one that is coded not only for aesthetics but also for performance.

Similarly, avoid plugins that slow down your site. Two specific examples are gallery and slider plugins. Be sure to do your research before selecting a gallery or slider plugin.

Foo Gallery is a free gallery plugin with good reviews.

Meta Slider has a good reputation for speed in the world of slider plugins.

Find and fix slow SQL database queries

Slow database queries can negatively impact a WordPress site’s performance. To fix these issues, first identify them, and then pick a method to correct them. This CSS Tricks article has some good tips to help you get started.

Check the “Break comments into pages…” box

Similar to larger pages slowing down your WordPress site, comments can as well. In the interest of speed, it is a good idea to check the “Break comments into pages…” box  in the WordPress dashboard. As indicated in the image below, this option can be found at Settings > Discussion > Other comment settings in the WordPress dashboard.

Move JavaScript to the bottom of the page or footer

Loading JavaScript in the header or beginning of your body can cause the rest of the page to load slowly. Try moving your JavaScript as much as possible to the footer or bottom of the body of your HTML to significantly improve loading times. Kevin Leary provides an example of how to move all JavaScript to a footer in this article. The code required is fairly minimal, but if you would prefer a plugin, there are options like Scripts to Footer. Keep in mind that some JavaScript may need to be loaded in the header for functional purposes, but for the most part, moving it down is preferred.

Limit the number of post revisions you keep

Keeping a large number of post revisions can use up database space and slow down your site. Limit the number of post revisions you keep using the wp_revisions_to_keep filter.

Use a quality hosting provider

Having properly configured and optimized infrastructure running your WordPress site can do a lot to improve your performance and allow you to benefit from the economies of scale and expertise of professionals who specialize in making WordPress work. For example, if you choose HostPapa WordPress hosting, your servers will not only have a 99.9% uptime guarantee, they’ll also be running the best and fastest versions of PHP (a scripting language used on the server) and MySQL (the database used on the server).

For further questions or if you need help, please open a support ticket from your HostPapa Dashboard. Follow this link to learn how.

 

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