Yes, Having Too Many Plugins Is Hurting Your WordPress Website’s Performance, SEO, & Opening It Up To Security Vulnerabilities

Estimated Reading Time: 6 Minutes

By: Brian McCrackenbutton to visit the authors linked profile
High Level Developer

One of the wonderful things about building your company’s website with WordPress is the vast ecosystem of free themes and plugins. It often seems like no matter what you want to add to your website, there’s already a plugin out there to help you do that.

While this is a blessing for many small businesses, it can also be a curse.

When you add plugins to your WordPress website, you are adding more code that consumes resources, introducing potential incompatibilities, opening up new security vulnerabilities, and very likely hurting your website’s SEO in the process.

In some cases, such as websites that use WooCommerce for eCommerce it may be impossible to avoid using plugins needed the run your online storefront, but for other websites, there may be better ways to achieve your goal.

How Many WordPress Plugins Are Too Many

There is no exact number. The rule of thumb is any number of plugins over the least required to run your website is too many.

Oftentimes, people building their first WordPress website will install a plugin to try it, and then if things don’t work how they wanted, forget to deactivate and remove it. Over the course of time this can lead to your plugins page being full of tools that you once installed, and then when looking back at it later, forget why they were there to begin with.

wp plugin repo
The large number of free plugins you can install on your WordPress website can make it easy to go overboard and use to many accidentally.

How To Avoid Having Too Many Plugins On Your WordPress Site

These two rules can help prevent you from installing and having too many plugins on your WordPress website.

  1. Only Install Plugins You Can’t Live Without
  2. Immediately Remove A Plugin As Soon As You No Longer Need It

Only Install Plugins You Can’t Live Without

It is tempting to see the vast number of helpful, free plugins in the WordPress repository and think about the possibilities for creating a more persuasive website for your business. It’s an area where you need to exercise restraint.

Before installing a plugin, ask yourself if another plugin you are using already covers that functionality, or if you can achieve the same (or similar) goal without using a plugin at all.

By evaluating if you really need what that plugin promises to provide, or if you can meet that need in a more efficient way, you can save yourself a lot of headache down the road when you’ve long since forgotten why you installed it to begin with.

a man deciding to install another plugin on his website
Before installing another plugin on your website, determine if you truly need it, or if you can achieve the same or similar result without using an additional plugin.

Immediately Remove A Plugin As Soon As You No Longer Need It

When you are looking for a solution to a problem you have on your website, it’s common to install a few plugins looking for the answer.

Unfortunately most people forget to deactivate and uninstall the plugins that didn’t work how they had hoped.

The best way to avoid that trap is to make it a standard process to install one plugin at a time, and immediately uninstall it if it doesn’t serve your needs. In combination with optimizing your company’s WordPress site, making sure unused plugins are deleted can ensure your website provides a customer-centric experience.

Why Too Many Plugins Are Bad For Your WordPress Website

There are three reasons having too many plugins on your WordPress website is a bad idea.

  1. Hurting Your SEO: Each plugin adds more code that your site has to run and give users each time a page loads. That slows down your website’s speed, and slow website’s don’t perform as well in search engines.
  2. Security Issues: Each plugin you install adds more code that hackers can try to exploit to gain access to your website and take it down.
  3. Compatibility Issues: Each plugin you install adds more code that may conflict with other plugins or your theme, producing PHP errors that can slow down your website even more or cause it to crash all together.

Too Many Plugins Hurt Your WordPress Website’s SEO

With each plugin you install on your WordPress website, you are adding code that the website has to run each time a potential customer of yours loads a webpage.

In additional to running that code, those plugins may include additional CSS or JavaScript that your website will load with each page. That means:

  • Each webpage on your website will be larger.
  • Larger webpages load more slowly for search engines and users alike.
  • A slower webpage reduces your page speed score, reducing your likelihood of ranking highly for keywords that are important to your business.

Managing the number of plugins on your website in combination with using a SEO-friendly WordPress theme is critical for improving your website’s SEO providing a positive user experience.

Slow pagespeed scores
Too many plugins can cause a website to slowdown, hurting it’s SEO and user experience scores.

Too Many Plugins On Your WordPress Website Can Increase The Number Of Security Issues You May Have

Every WordPress plugin is built by an individual developer or team of developers. There are tens of thousands of WordPress plugins available, and very few developers for different plugins communicate with each other about their products.

On an individual level, each additional plugin adds more code to your WordPress site and some of that code may not be written as securely as it could be, which opens your website up to security risks.

In addition, in some cases, WordPress plugin vulnerabilities can be chained together across a group of co-installed plugins to create much larger vulnerabilities than either plugin had on its own.

Too Many WordPress Plugins Can Cause Unforeseen Compatibility Issues

Much like the security issues that can arise when too many plugins are installed on a single WordPress website, compatibility issues can arise as well.

When a plugin has a compatibility issue with another plugin or the theme on your website, it may produce a PHP error that you don’t notice immediately.

If there are just a few such PHP errors, it may only slow down your website, negatively impacting the website’s SEO. If there are a lot of errors, they may become “Fatal Errors” meaning that the entire website crashes and will require an experienced, professional WordPress developer to rescue it.

fatal pup errors on WordPress website
Fatal PHP errors cause by too many plugins can completely crash your website if you’re not careful.

How Can You Avoid The WordPress Plugin Problem?

In some cases, if your business is operating with a small budget and you’re building your own website with a free theme, you may not have many options other than to rely on the publicly available plugins to help you achieve your goals.

If you do have a budget to work with, hiring a developer to build a custom WordPress solution for you that keeps performance and security in mind will help eliminate many of the problems associated with using too many plugins on your website.

Do You Want To Stop Using So Many Plugins?

We have worked on countless websites to improve their performance and increase their security by managing and reducing the number of plugins installed, or developing more secure solutions when needed.

If you want us to take a look at your website, just let us know below. 🙂

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How do too many plugins affect the overall maintenance and upkeep of a WordPress website?

    Having too many plugins on your WordPress website can greatly complicate the care and maintenance of the website. Your plugins should be updated on at least a monthly basis, if not weekly or more often, to ensure they run correctly and don’t have security issues that can leave you open to attack.

    When you have too many plugins installed on your website, every plugin update cycle introduces the possibility of new incompatibilities, conflicts, and security issues that didn’t exist in the old plugin code. Additionally, if you don’t update your plugins regularly, having too many installed on your website greatly reduces the security of your website, increasing the potential for hacking attempts or worse.

    How do too many plugins affect the overall user experience of a WordPress website?

    Too many plugins installed on your WordPress website will consume additional resources when a page is rendered to sent to a user. In addition, each plugin installed may add some CSS or JavaScript that will add size and bulk to your web pages, reducing your website’s page speed as well. The combination of these factors will often result in a slower website.

    A user’s experience with a website is based in part on how quickly that website loads for them. By having too many plugins installed on your website, it will be slower and reduce the quality of the user experience it provides your customers.

    How do too many plugins impact the overall cost and budget of a WordPress website?

    While many plugins are free, some require paid subscriptions to use and update. That licensing cost of those WordPress plugins will increase the annual cost of your website.

    In addition, if there are too many plugins installed on your WordPress website, it will complicate the regular care and maintenance of your website, increasing those costs.

    Lastly, if you have a lot of plugins installed on your website, you may leave yourself open for hacking attacks that can be costly to repair as well.

    How do too many plugins impact the scalability of a WordPress website?

    When you have a lot of plugins installed on your WordPress website, each of them will consume both storage and processing resources. For high traffic WordPress websites concerned with scaling resources to meet those traffic demands, unused plugins taking up resources unnecessarily will negatively impact your ability to provide a positive user experience with your website.

    High quality, WordPress specific managed hosting cam help mitigate this to a degree.

    Can having too many plugins increase the risk of error messages or other technical issues on a WordPress site?

    Yes. Having too many plugins installed on your WordPress website will increase the likelihood of PHP errors occurring due to incompatibilities between the plugins or themes.

    In a best-case scenario, this may just slow down your website and have SEO consequences. In the worst-case scenario, your entire website may crash and require an experienced developer to diagnose the issue and repair it and get your website back online.

    Can having too many plugins increase the risk of compatibility issues with new versions of WordPress or other software?

    Absolutely. In a perfect world, WordPress plugins would be updated every day to ensure 100% compatibility across the entire ecosystem.

    Unfortunately, the reality is that many plugins are open-source part-time projects for developers. While they do make efforts to ensure proper combability with core WordPress updates, in some cases where a feature of WordPress has been depreciated or changed, that’s not always possible. if more plugins you have installed on your website, the greatly the likelihood of this occurring to you.

    How do too many plugins affect the load time of a WordPress website?

    Too many plugins will often lead to increased load times for your website.

    The more plugins you have installed on your WordPress website, the more CSS or JavaScript they may add to each page that has to be downloaded by your users before they can use your website. In addition, each plugin may cause additional processor or database resources to be used, also increasing the load time for your website in many cases.

    Can having too many plugins increase the risk of spam or other unwanted content on a WordPress site?

    Yes. One of the main concerns of installing too many plugins on your WordPress website is security issues that can arise. If a hacker can exploit insecure code found in one of the plugins installed on your website, they can deface your website and put unlimited unwanted content on it, harming your reputation with customers and resulting in costly repair bills.

    Is Your Website A Little Slow, Or Have You Been Hacked?

    We are always available to help or rescue whatever has your WordPress website down. Just let us know how we can help. 🙂

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