The Need for Speed - 6 DIY Simple Ways to Make Your Site Faster

How many seconds do you wait for a website to load?

How many prospects are you losing because your site loads too slowly?

Work it out from the Kissmetrics image below.

site load time graph

Speed counts and mobile users are even more impatient, so with more users on mobile devices, the situation is going to worsen.

You need to make your site faster, even if you think it’s fast enough already. And you can breathe a sigh of relief because these are all DIY simple changes any non-expert can make.

How to Measure Your Site Speed

Find out the extent of the problem. Use GTMetrix to find how slow your site is. For the most accurate results, you should change the server location to one that corresponds to where your customers are and set the browser to the most common one used to access your site.

Retest your site speed after every change you make.

1. Upgrade Your Hosting

There are two aspects of hosting you need to look at; the host you are using, and whether you are on a shared server or a VPS.

Some hosts will throttle your site (deliberately slow it down) if you attract too many users. They don’t tell you, they just slow you down.

You may have paid for three years of hosting and be reluctant to throw that away by changing to a new host. But the $200 you lose is nothing compared to the sales you generate by not losing half your impatient prospects because your pages take too long to load.

Upgrading to a virtual private server (VPS) is simple, but it costs more. Your host’s support staff will move for free.

Most web hosting is sold via affiliate links, so every review you read is influenced by the $50-100 the site owner receives if you click this link and buy. LCN web hosting is one of the few hosting companies that have no affiliates, and they are worth checking out.

lcn web hosting features

LCN’s packages include a free SSL cert, so you get the now-essential https website you need.

It is simple to migrate a WordPress site from one host to another, and sometimes the new host’s support department will move the site for free or a nominal charge.

2. Find a Faster Theme

Every theme designer boasts about how fast their theme is. Theme designers are like politicians: You have to look behind everything they tell you. Disable all your plugins and test your site’s speed. Try a new theme and test again. Keep testing until you find the shortest site load time.

3. Remove Plugins

Plugins, especially free ones, are notorious for slowing down your site. Disable them all, test, enable one plugin, retest. Repeat with every plugin you want to use. When you find one that has a significant negative impact on your speed, consider whether you could do without it.

Watch for plugins that clash with one another and stop your web pages loading correctly. This is mainly a problem with free plugins that are poorly coded.

4. Use a CDN

A content delivery network (CDN) will make your site faster, even if you opt for a free version. Some are easier to set up than others. A CDN will host your website on their ultra-fast servers at various locations around the globe. The pages your visitors want are served by the CDN servers instead of your web host’s servers, so you don’t run into over-stringent CPU usage limits.

Look at Cloudflare and MaxCDN and see which you prefer. Don’t have both active at the same time.

5. Optimize Your Code

Use a plugin such as autoptimize to reduce (minify) the space your code takes up. The fewer bytes it is, the faster it loads.

6. Optimize Images

You know the images and videos on your site are large files, so reduce their size using a plugin such as SmushIt or EWWW Image Optimizer. Test both and see which improves your YSlow and page speed the most.

Consider using links to YouTube rather than hosting videos on your site.

The Short Version

You can speed up your site without paying someone to do it. The most critical decision is whether to upgrade your hosting because that will increase your outgoings. A faster site will increase your incomings, too.

The other changes here are easy, and you could implement them all in an afternoon without any specialist knowledge.

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