10 Reasons Why Your WordPress Website Is Slow & How to fix it

Wordpress website is slow- How to fix it

How long would you give a website that took too long to load? Google says that over 50 percent of visitors abandon a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load on their mobile device. It’s no surprise then that the probability of a website bounce increases by 32% as page load time goes from one second to three seconds.

If you find yourself asking, “why is my WordPress site so slow?”, we recommend that you do something about it before your users start noticing it too. Low WordPress loading speed is an issue a lot of website owners grapple with. Thankfully, it’s not difficult to find out why, and take steps to improve website speed.

In this article, we help you understand why your website is slow, and how you can implement measures to improve its speed. 

How slow is a “slow website”?

The ideal load time for any website is said to be about 1 to 2 seconds. To check your website loading time, just enter your website URL on any speed measurement tools like GTMetrix, WebPageTest, or Pingdom. Apart from showing the average loading time, these tools will also pinpoint the reasons why your WordPress website is loading very slowly

While the reasons listed on these websites can be brief, we’ve detailed the most common 10 reasons why WordPress loads slowly on any device.

Why is your WordPress site so slow?

Now that you know that your WordPress site is loading slowly, we can look at the possible causes. Here are 10 top reasons for a slow WordPress site:

1. Website has hidden malware

According to McAfee, 50% of malicious apps on mobile phones are hidden. Similar to hidden apps, malware threats can also hide on WordPress sites without being detected for days or even weeks. They can slow down your website speed by consuming too many server resources and bandwidth.

2. Poor web host

Are you constantly getting a WordPress slow server response time on your website? That could happen when your website is hosted on a poor web host or a cheap hosting plan. If too many websites are hosted on a single shared server, then websites are bound to load slowly on any device.

3. Running too many plugins

Did you know that there are over 59,000 different WordPress plugins available in the market, as of today? This means there is a plugin for every website functionality and need. Running too many plugins can add to the overall loading time and slow down your WordPress site — simply because not all of them are optimized for performance.

4. Using poor-quality plugins and themes

Another big reason for slow websites is the use of low-quality plugins? Think about this. Of the 18,262 plugins created between 2016 and 2019, 57% have never been rated, while 3% have never received any software update. This means that there’s no dearth of untrusted poor-quality plugins and themes that are neither optimized for fast loading nor security. 

5. Not updating WordPress core, plugins, and themes

Outdated WordPress sites are not just a security risk, they can also impact the site’s speed and performance. If your WordPress site is running slowly, it could be because of an outdated Core WordPress version, and old plugins and themes. Why is this the case? Simple, WordPress updates are also designed to improve performance and load faster on any device.

6. Unnecessary JavaScript or long CSS

JavaScript is what makes your WordPress site more engaging and interactive for your users. Similarly, CSS code is responsible for your website styling and keeps it consistent across all pages. Unnecessary or unoptimized JavaScript can block your page from loading faster, while unoptimized CSS can also delay loading. 

7. Not optimizing images

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but having too many images can slow down your WordPress site. Though high-resolution images are great for aesthetics, they also add to the overall loading time. Besides, it is difficult to change the image size without impacting its quality.

8. Not using caching plugins

With website caching, you can save and show the same website version when a repeat user visits your site. This means that lesser server resources are utilized for showing content, thus improving the page speed. For WordPress sites, a caching plugin is sufficient for implementing this step. However, many site owners prefer not to use a caching plugin, as it often results in showing an outdated version of the website to repeat users.

9. Not using CDN

Short for Content Delivery Network, CDN comprises multiple servers placed in different geographical locations or countries. It essentially stores multiple copies of your website content, so that they can be delivered faster to the nearest user accessing your website. If your target users are spread across different geographies, not using CDN can impact the site’s speed and delivery.

10. Running too many external scripts

External links or scripts in your website content are good for SEO. However, if you are running too many external scripts, your server may consume a lot of bandwidth loading these scripts on any browser. This can in turn make your WordPress site suddenly very slow.


Now that we know the reasons, let us look at 10 effective ways to make WordPress load faster on any device.

How to make a WordPress site load faster

Here are 10 trusted and recommends solutions to speed up WordPress load time:

Solution #1: Use plugins that don’t affect site loading.

Before installing a new plugin, make sure it is optimized for good speed. To be safe, purchase plugins only from trusted developers and the official WordPress plugin repository.

Solution #2: Choose a good web host.

If you are still running your WordPress site on a cheaper or shared host, it is time to move to a managed hosting platform that offers dedicated server resources. Also, make sure to choose a high-quality web hosting company like Kinsta, Bluehost, or Siteground.

Solution #3: Optimize images.

Next, optimize your website images through compression, which can reduce the load time by 1-2 seconds. Only use optimized file formats like JPG or PNG for your website images. Image editing tools like Optimole or ImageOptim work great for optimizing images without reducing their quality.

Solution #4: Uninstall or disable unused plugins.

If you work with a lot of plugins, take regular stock of all installed plugins in your WordPress hosting account., uninstall any unused or inactive plugins that you are no longer using.

Solution #5: Update WordPress core, plugins, and themes.

If you are still working on outdated WordPress versions, this is the best time to update all of them to their latest versions. Make sure to update both the Core WordPress and plugins/themes to avoid any incompatibility issues.

Solution #6: Use lightweight themes.

Just like low-quality plugins, not all themes are optimized for fast loading. Reduce the number of installed themes in your site, or use lightweight themes like GeneratePress or Astra that speed up your WordPress site.

Solution #7: Use CDN.

Improve your content distribution using WordPress CDN services like Cloudflare or Jetpack. This way, your website visitors get the fastest response from the server nearest to them.

Solution #8: Use lazy loading.

Lazy loading is a proven technique to defer loading on non-critical webpage elements, thus improving loading efficiency. For WordPress sites, consider installing lazy load plugins like Smush or Lazy Load by WP Rocket.

Solution #9: Use caching plugins

Unless you modify your content on almost a daily basis, caching plugins are a great addition to your website. Choose and install the best caching plugins like WP Rocket or W3 Total Cache.

Solution #10: Use a security plugin that doesn’t slow down your site.

Given the increasing number and complexity of hacks and attacks on websites, using a security plugin is almost a non-negotiable part of your website maintenance. But security plugins and their deep scanning routines can slow down your website. Use a security plugin like MalCare that runs all malware scanning and removal on its dedicated servers. This means that your internal web server is not utilized and can be dedicated to your site performance.

Solution#11: Optimize the WordPress database.

A cluttered WordPress database with spam comments and unused data can prevent your website from running at optimal speed. You can easily fix this problem using database optimization plugins like WP Database Reset or WP-DBManager.


Final thoughts 

Today, whether it is to improve your site’s user experience, as part of your SEO efforts, or as part of your mobile-first website strategy,  high website speed is more than just a good-to-have. 

My WordPress site is slow – As worrying as this realisation can be, it is the first step to knowing that there is a problem you need to solve. Just like with most things WordPress, the community and the WordPress marketplace have all the recommendations and solutions you need.  

We hope the insights, tips, and recommendations in this article help you take your website and its speed to the next level.

Are there any other methods you use to handle WordPress slow loading issues? Do share them with us.

Heather Robinson
Heather Robinson has been working in digital marketing since 2005. Graduating with a degree in marketing from the University of Leeds and an MSc in Digital Marketing from Manchester Met, Heather puts her strategic knowledge into practice, working with businesses of all sizes on their digital marketing strategies. She is also a published author and conference speaker and provides consultancy and training to marketing teams in the public and private sector.

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