9 reasons your WordPress site is slow

Every second matters on the internet. When it comes to your website, visitors expect fast results. In fact, most people expect your site to pop open in less than two seconds. And 40% hit the close button if a website doesn’t load within three seconds.

Google cares deeply about speed, too. They’ve configured their search algorithm to push down any website that takes too long to load. It can hurt your SEO. And perhaps worst of all, a slow site kills sales and conversions. A survey conducted by the folks at Acamai discovered that one extra second could slow conversions by 7%.

Website speed is too important to ignore, but luckily it’s easy to fix. So, if you suspect your website is running slow, here are 9 big reasons why.

1. Your Web Host Sucks

When we diagnose load speed, the first place to start is your web host and how quickly your server responds to requests.

No matter what else you do to tweak your site, if your host is slow, your website is slow. Your web host is the foundation of your site and it’s responsible for most of the performance.

Most cheap web hosting options use ‘shared servers’. In other words, you’re sharing resources with a bunch of other sites and that can drag down your speed.

One option here is to upgrade to ‘Managed WordPress Hosting’. It costs a little more than budget shared hosting, but it ‘manages’ your site to ensure it’s always lightning fast.

2. Your Server is on the Wrong Side of the Planet

If your main audience is in the USA, but your server is located in Australia, it’s going to take MUCH longer to respond to requests. Quite simply, the information has to travel further to reach your visitors.

Take a look at this review of A2 hosting. As you can see, the server responds fastest on America’s east coast. In India, however, the response is very slow. You want your server located in the area where most of your visitors are located.

A2 hosting

Ask your existing web host to move your files to a closer server, or search for a web host located nearer to your visitors.

3. You Haven’t Updated Your Software or Plugins

There’s a reason why WordPress constantly push out updates. It’s because they are regularly fixing bugs for security and performance reasons. By hitting the ‘update’ button, you’re keeping your site at full power.

Don’t ignore those notifications, update all software and plugins as soon as you’re prompted to do so.

4. You’ve Chosen a Heavy Theme

One of the best features of WordPress is the huge wealth of free themes and designs. However, there isn’t always a lot of quality control going on. Some themes are full of dense coding that will slow your website down.

One of the easiest ways to find out the speed of any particular theme is to run the demo website through a speed checker (you’re looking for less than three seconds, at maximum.)

Heavy theme

Another trick is checking the total file size of the theme (ideally less than 2MB) and how many HTTP requests the demo site makes (preferably fewer than 60).

Of course, you can always edit the code and slim it down yourself once it’s up and running.

Alternatively, browse this list of superfast themes.

5. You’re not Caching Your Site

Caching allows a web browser to store your website’s data on a visitor’s web browser. So, next time they visit, your website will pop up quickly rather than fetching all the data from the server.

Try installing the W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache plugin to make this automatic for your website. It can speed things up 2x or 5x for regular visitors.

6. You Have Too Many Plugins Running at Once

Every time your website loads, it has to request every aspect of your website from your server. That includes images, plugins, and content. Plugins are particularly heavy, and if you have lots running at once, it will take a while to request and load each one.

As mentioned previously, we ideally want to limit the number of HTTP requests your website makes. Search through your plugins and ruthlessly remove any that are using a lot of resources.

7. Your Images Aren’t Optimized For Speed

Just like your plugins, it takes the time to request and load every image on your website. Large images with a huge file size take longer to load.

Start by choosing a lighter file format, like JPG instead of PNG. JPGs are compressed, but without losing any noticeable image quality. Another trick is limiting the width and height of your images. A good general rule is to limit the width to the maximum width of your site theme (usually around 800px).

8. Someone’s Leaching or Hotlinking Your Images

‘Hotlinking’ has become increasingly popular, especially for websites that get high volumes of traffic.

In simple terms, it means other websites link to images hosted on your site, effectively using your bandwidth to post pictures. Learn how to stop content theft in WordPress for free.

Hotlinking images

Often, you might not know this is happening. To make sure this doesn’t happen, check out these directions to block it.

9. You’re Not Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

A CDN solves the problem of slow servers in certain parts of the world. As we explored earlier, a server in America will load slowly for visitors in India.

If you’ve got a worldwide audience, you need speed in every corner of the planet. That’s where a CDN comes in. A CDN hosts static files from your website on servers all over the globe. When someone loads your website in, say Japan, the server closest to them will serve up the files.

MaxCDN and Cloudflare are two great options to get started.

Speed has a huge effect on user experience, sales, and conversions. It can help you make money or lose it if the site doesn’t perform well. Make sure your website isn’t letting you down!

If you suspect your website is slowing down, check these nine issues and turbo-charge it back to full performance. Got questions or thoughts about website speed? Let me know in the comment section below.

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One thought on “9 reasons your WordPress site is slow

  1. Good article, always interesting to see what people are doing for speed. Though if you are using a good CDN such as CloudFlare it doesn’t really matter where your server is located anymore as the CDN will serve it from the closes location to the person requesting it.

    Another thing people should be aware of is that server level caching such as Litespeeds Lscache is much, much faster than an application level cache such as W3. They should keep that in mind when choosing a web host. The host I use now (kickassd.com) uses Litespeeds cache and wow what a difference to what i had before with Total Cache!

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