The performance of a website consists of a good loading speed, which generates a reduction in bounce rate and an increase in conversions. Fast page loading is essential for a good user experience, which should be a top priority for you as a WordPress website owner.
Users have a strong tendency to leave a page if it doesn’t load quickly, which is normal in this age of speed. Even if your WordPress website is built to provide a great user experience, with visually appealing content and intuitive navigation, loading speed has a strong impact on whether or not they stay on the page.
In this article, you will learn more about what’s slowing down your WordPress website and how you can solve these common issues to improve performance, all by yourself or with the help of specialists.
Why is loading speed important for website performance?
Before we get into the factors that might cause your website to be slow, we need to mention a few reasons why your WordPress site performance is highly dependent on its loading speed.
Slow loading of a website or its content leads to frustration of visitors and thus poor user experience. Many of us try to leave the page as quickly as possible when we find ourselves in this position. In specialized language, this situation is defined as a high bounce rate, which means that a large proportion of visitors leave the website in question without taking any action (which in turn means a low conversion rate).
As the human attention span has drastically decreased in recent years, you only have a few seconds to get a visitor to stay on your page. If the page loads slowly, regardless of the quality of your content, the likelihood of the user leaving is very high. As a result, your page building efforts are not enough to achieve your goal of increasing page views and conversions.
In addition to the impact on user experience, website speed is also critical to performance for the following reason: Google, the world’s most widely used search engine, has introduced penalties for slow websites. In other words, page speed has become an important ranking factor, and websites with slow speed will automatically have fewer visitors as they rank lower in search results.
What tools you can use to test the loading speed of your WordPress website
The first step to improving the performance of your WordPress website is to test it. This is the best way to find out where you stand in terms of loading speed, which is why we advise you to run such tests regularly.
Many website owners make the mistake of thinking that the loading speed is good because the website loads quickly on their computer or phone. In reality, the loading speed is due to the fact that they visit their own page frequently and the browser caches it, so that it loads even faster the next time they visit. The experience of other users will be different, especially as page speed may differ from one section of the website to another, depending on the amount and quality of the content.
To test the speed of your WordPress website, you can use free tools for measuring website performance. Among the most commonly used free speed test tools are GTmetrix and PageSpeed Insights. They are easy and intuitive to use and also offer suggestions that you can apply for a better score in the future.
What slows down your WordPress website?
Now that we’ve discussed how loading speed affects your site performance, we can move on to the most common factors that slow down the website and then see what practices can be implemented to speed it up, keeping in mind that most specialists recommend a page load time of under two seconds.
There are solutions for each of these factors, but first you need to identify them. Here are the most common issues we found when evaluating our clients’ WordPress websites regarding performance and for which we designed an integrated solution to solve them quickly and cost-effectively:
❌Bad hosting solution: the hosting plan you choose for your website can have a noticeable impact on its speed. For small websites, shared hosting is sufficient, but considering that server resources are shared with other clients, the website performance can be affected.
❌Unoptimized images: one of the most common reasons for WordPress websites slowing down is unoptimized images. The goal is to provide high-quality visual content that convinces the visitor to view your content. In order to not compromise image quality or page load speed, you need to compress the images (including the image sizes generated by WordPress, which are, in fact, served most of the time on your website instead of the original images you upload);
❌Not using a caching solution: Caching is one of the most powerful tools you can take advantage of to make your website fast, and a critical part of WordPress optimization. Caching helps your website load way faster by reducing the amount of data transfer between the browser, your WordPress database, and your web server.
❌Poorly coded WordPress plugins: to increase the speed of your WordPress website, it’s not enough to quickly install plugins and expect results. You need to choose only quality plugins and limit the number. Installing too many plugins means more database queries, HTTP requests, site crashes, and other issues that can add up to slow down loading speed;
❌Many external scripts: external scripts strongly influence the performance of a website, and many of them come from the theme and/or plugins. Because they are large blocks of code, it’s normal that they take longer to load, but that does not mean that external resources can’t be optimized;
❌Heavy WordPress theme: many WordPress website owners use pre-made themes. Some of them are poorly built and have tons of features that we never use, which only compromises the website’s performance.
These can be the main causes of slow loading speed of your website. We would like to point out that there is a quick solution that provides a detailed and complete assessment of your website’s speed, as well as useful recommendations that you can implement yourself or with the help of a specialist.
Choose WordPress Speed Optimization for a full website audit and real customer support.
Aiming to provide WordPress users with an integrated solution that helps boost website’s performance and address the above-mentioned issues, WordPress Speed Optimization guarantees a full website audit with a minimal investment and extensive support in implementing suggestions.
How to solve the loading speed issues?
If your performance test score doesn’t meet your expectations, in our article you can learn more about how to overcome the most common loading speed challenges.
Here are some of the actions that you can implement yourself that will surely speed up your WordPress site performance:
✅ Evaluate your hosting plan
Often overlooked, the hosting plan you choose may affect the loading speed of your WordPress website, so you may need to consider upgrading. Shared hosting is a good solution for starters, but it can affect performance since the server resources are used by several clients at the same time. Even though it is a cheaper option, shared hosting is not always compatible with website performance expectations.
To help you make the right decision, we recommend checking the Webhosting subreddit. Yes, this is where you will really find the best hosting provider recommendations. For starters, here are the basic aspects you should pay attention to when looking for a new hosting provider:
- Try to avoid unlimited offers: If the provider claims to give you unlimited resources, such as disk space, bandwidth and features at a very cheap price, notice that this is actually governed by their fair usage policy to ensure that you are not overusing the server resources.
- Sufficient disk space: Make sure you take into account how much disk space your WordPress site actually needs (most of it is taken up by image files). Also, make sure you consider the disk space required for backups.
- Backup: A good hosting provider should provide free backups. If you select a cheap plan, you usually have to pay to restore the backup.
- Free SSL certificate: The provider should at least support Let’s Encrypt, which offers digital certificates so you can enable HTTPS (SSL/TLS) for your website, for free. This is really important for security and SEO.
- Support: Make sure the provider is there for you and you can reach out to them via chat, email, or phone, in case you encounter any issues.
✅ Compress and optimize the images
Image optimization is one of the most important actions to increase the speed of a website. If you decide to take on this task yourself, ShortPixel Adaptive Images is one of the most simple tools you can use. It will help you get a better performance score by serving optimized, properly-sized images in the next-gen WebP and AVIF formats from a global CDN. The plugin fixes one of the most common warnings displayed in Pagespeed Insights and GTMetrix performance reports (properly size images warning).
If you use images that are too large, the likelihood of poor performance in speed tests is high. If you want to upload an image to your website and simply have it compressed and optimized, we recommend using an image optimization plugin such as ShortPixel Image Optimizer that reduces the image size without affecting the quality.
✅ Use a good caching solution
Using a caching solution is extremely important because it reduces the load on your server and helps your WordPress website run faster. There are a lot of great WordPress caching plugins available out there that come with powerful features. We recommend using either WP Rocket (premium) or LiteSpeed Cache (free).
Besides that, many WordPress hosting companies like Bluehost and SiteGround offer their own caching solutions as well.
✅ Use quality plugins
To ensure the performance of your WordPress website, one of the things you need to do is to use lightweight and quality plugins, i.e. those that consume server resources only when needed and do not add to the page load.
Here are some typical rules to follow to minimize the potential performance issues plugins can cause:
- Only install plugins essential for your website to function.
- Update the plugins.
- Always remove inactive plugins.
- Only install credible plugins from trusted developers.
Keep in mind that using more plugins means less speed, so choose quality over quantity and use plugins from trusted developers that are regularly updated and have positive reviews. If the plugins you use are not essential for your website to function, you should remove them because they take up unnecessary space on your server and slow down loading and response times.
✅ Limit or minimize the effects of external scripts
Almost every WordPress website uses external (third-party) scripts in order to achieve some functionality. The most common third-party scripts are:
- Chat widgets
- Social sharing buttons
- Embedded videos (e.g. YouTube, Vimeo)
- Analytics (e.g. Google Analytics)
- Embedded advertisements
Various themes and plugins also use external scripts, increasing the potential for the site to become slow. Therefore, try to choose a lightweight theme, and limit the number of plugins that include third-party scripts you do not really need.
In case you really require these external scripts, you can minimize the effects to increase your WordPress site performance.
✅ Use a lightweight theme
As WordPress users, we may tend to choose multi-purpose complex themes with special effects and sophisticated animations. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s also not good for loading speed. Many themes are not coded efficiently and include features that we often don’t even need.
A fast and lightweight theme is a better solution to increase your website’s speed, unlike many pre-made themes that are complex and come with a lot of unecessary features.
Let specialists handle your Wordpress site performance issues
Not sure where to start or things just get too complicated? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Throughout our years of experience, we received hundreds of requests from our clients to assist them with their performance issues because they simply did not know what to begin with or felt overwhelmed by the extensive list of actions they need to follow. That being said, we decided to come up with a cost-effective solution.
Through a comprehensive website audit that analyses more than 25 performance-related aspects, ShortPixel specialists can quickly determine the reasons behind your website’s bad performance and provide you with the most relevant recommendations.
If you have a website and you are not happy with the loading speed and notice an increasing bounce rate, it may be due to a combination of factors that are affecting your website’s performance, as seen above.
Through a comprehensive audit, the optimization specialists identify the issues that need to be addressed and offer suggestions for improvement. Implementing these suggestions will result in faster page load speeds, lower bounce rates and a higher conversion rate.
The audit includes 3 actionable reports. They will show you the problems affecting your website’s performance and give you advice on how to solve them.
- Website Report – analyzing 25 aspects, including images, plugins, hosting, caching, internal/external resources, etc. Includes suggestions for resolving the problems identified.
- Plugins Report – reviewing plugins and recommending the most suitable action regarding their retention, replacement or removal.
- Database report – taking a deep dive into analyzing the database and providing suggestions for its optimization.
Having an overview of the issues that need to be addressed makes it much easier for clients to improve the performance of their WordPress websites and increase the number of page visits, as a result of the higher loading speed achieved by implementing the recommendations. However, all or part of the tasks can be implemented by the team of website optimization experts;
Extensive support from experts
If you are not comfortable implementing the suggestions received in the 3 actionable reports on your own, the team is ready to take on the tasks to improve your WordPress site performance.
Optimizing the speed of your WordPress website should be a top priority for you to achieve goals such as lower bounce rates, increase user retention, level-up search rankings and boost conversions.
If you are not sure how to start or things might feel overwhelming, you can try getting an audit to identify the problems behind your website’s poor performance and get solutions from experts.
Try WordPress Speed Optimization and solve all your problems with the help of optimization experts.