Written by Saylor Bullington on February 10, 2017

Is your WordPress website sluggish? Are pages and posts loading slowly and you don’t know why? In this post, we’ll discuss the reasons and show how to speed up a WordPress site.

Why is Your WordPress Site Slow?

Whether your hosting provider, poor code or not optimizing images is to blame, digging into why your website is running slowly is worth the time and effort. Why?

Faster websites result in a better user experience.

Speeding up your website can also help with your Google search rankings, as Google takes into account page loading speed.

Let’s dig into the most common reasons for a slow WordPress website.

1. Poor Hosting Performance

If your website is running slowly, it’s possible your web host is unable to handle large bursts of traffic, or the servers where your website reside are not optimized.

In addition, shared hosting providers seem like a good idea, but they often fail to provide efficient loading times because you are sharing a server with countless other websites that may or may not be optimized.

2. Poor Code

Inefficient code can also slow down a WordPress website. If you are familiar with HTML, CSS or JavaScript, you probably have an idea of how much code is necessary to run a WordPress website. Excessive code or repeating the same bit of code over & over without utilizing a function/subroutine can slow performance of your website. Code quality is a good reason to only use WordPress themes and plugins from trusted, reputable sources, and from premium WordPress companies that have been around awhile and know what they’re doing.

3. Large, Unoptimized Images

Large images have the potential to really slow down a website. If a page or post is trying to load large images (I’ve seen posts with 6MB images embedded!), you’re going to see a significant decline in page loading times.

Why Website Speed Matters

Every second counts when it comes to page speed especially when speed has the potential to affect your SEO ranking.

  • 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.
  • 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
  • A 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.

I am guilty of sacrificing speed  to accommodate better aesthetic design, however, users tend to care more about speed than design. Additionally, speed can directly affect sales by increasing conversion rates.

How to Speed Up a WordPress Site

Now that we have established why it is important to have speedy a WordPress site, let’s talk about how to speed up a WordPress Site. Remember, it’s important to discover whether it is hosting or dense, inefficient code causing the problem.

1. Choose a Good WordPress Hosting Provider

We will start with discussing how to find a good WordPress host. Contact the host directly to ask for names of websites they host and use those to test performance. Some web hosts have examples of sites on their website.

The following tools can help you evaluate example hosted sites (or your own site’s current host):

Also consider our checklist for how to find the best WordPress host for things to look for in a good WordPress host.

Tip: If you discover you just need to switch to a better web host, a WordPress backup plugin like BackupBuddy can help with that.

2. Caching

Caching has the potential to make drastic changes to the speed of your WordPress site.

Caching stores data, meaning when a web page is cached, the computer doesn’t have to go retrieve it again and piece everything together to present a web page. The page has been cached, the work is done and all the computer has to do is show it.

As it is with anything, some caching plugins are better than others. We recommend W3 Total Cache plugin for increasing website performance and reducing download times.

Unfortunately, caching is not the be-all-end-all answer to slow loading speeds. Web pages are changed constantly because companies constantly want and need to show users new information.

3. Optimize Images

Using the appropriate image format can significantly reduce the file size, thus increasing site speed. File formats used for web are JPEG, PNG, GIF and SVG. It is also helpful to know the difference between raster and vector images.

Raster graphics or images are composed of a certain number of pixels and are not scalable beyond their maximum length and width. Vectors, on the other hand, are composed of paths and are infinitely scalable. Additionally, vectors have a much smaller file size and faster processing speed.

Spend time learn what format is best for every scenario. This will make a difference and save you tremendous amounts of time in the long run.