6x Free Ways To Increase Website Speed (and search traffic!)

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Did you know that a one second delay in website speed decreases conversions by 7%?

But what does that actually mean?

According to Google, if I increased my website speed by 1 second…

…I would make an extra $28,464 per year!

estimated revenue loss

But why does that happen?

It’s because-

page speed statistics

How much money are you unknowingly leaving on the table?

I suggest you run the numbers to find out.

Because with the few simple changes that I am going to share with you…

Anyone can increase their website speed, decrease their bounce rate and give a much better user experience.

6x Free Steps To Increase Website Speed Easily

Increasing your website speed is easy and you can do it without spending any money!

And no matter how fast your site is right now it can definitely be made faster!

You can usually improve things without any help from a developer, you just need the right combination of-

So follow the steps below and your site will be faster in no time at all!

Step #1: Test Your Current Website Speed

Before we do anything else, we need to get a benchmark of where we are right now in terms of our websites speed.

The results of this might be shocking but don’t worry, we are going to take of everything together in a moment.

First – capture data for you homepage and 2x other pages from-

Create a spreadsheet like this one (Template > File > Make a Copy)-

website speed before optimisation

Once you’ve got a baseline of where you are right now.

It’s time to go to work!

Step #2: Install A Caching Plugin

If you don’t already have a caching plugin installed, install one now!

You can use the free W3 Total Cache plugin to enable caching for your blog. Just follow this guide to get it running.

It’s a quick, free and easy way to activate caching on your site and it’s really customizable.

Note: Be careful with minifying or optimising your Javascript files, it will probably break things.

What Is Caching & How Does It Work?

When you visit a web page, the server has to spend time generating the page and then sending you all of the data/images on that page in order to display them.

It does this for every single page you visit on the website which means the server is constantly thinking and you’re often downloading the same images like logos multiple times.

Enabling caching means that-

  1. The server doesn’t have to spend time thinking about generating every page (because it’s “cached”)
  2. Your browser doesn’t have to download things it’s already downloaded before like logos

And that will result in significantly faster load times for your visitors.

Ps. I am using WPRocket and Kinsta (see my full Kinsta review) to power this blogs caching.

Step #3: Optimise Your Images

Images are one of the major contributing factors to slow websites.

That’s because image files are often unnecessarily large and can be compressed to shave off huge amounts of page size.

I managed to shave 46% off my image sizes across the blog-

image compression stats

I use ShortPixel to reduce the size but you can also use the free WP Smush plugin as well which I used for many years.

In fact:

It’s worth noting that all my images were already compressed with WP Smush before ShortPixel compressed them by an additional 46%.

But if you are on a budget, the WP Smush plugin will still do some serious compression for you and it only takes 1 click-

wp smush run time

It might take a while, but once it’s done you will have shaved off significant page size for free!

Step #4: LazyLoad Your Images (and videos)

The next step is to lazy load all of your media.

Now if your the type of person that HATES the lazy load experience because it makes the page jump around – don’t worry.

I hate that as well!

The best free plugin for you to use here is Lazy Loader but make sure it is effective by setting it up like this-

lazy loader setup

Pay close attention to the “Include lazysizes aspectratio plugin” option that will prevent the page jumping around like crazy.


There is one problem with this solution.

If you do choose to deploy WebP images with ShortPixel, the only lazy load plugin I have found that actually works with the picture tag is WPRocket

wp rocket lazy load options

And that’s going to cost you a little, but that is what is powering the lazy load across this blog right now. You should checkout my full WP Rocket review to learn more.

Step #5: Set Up CloudFlare

CloudFlare is a free content delivery network that comes with a bunch of other performance enhancing features.

It’s free and integrates with W3 Total Cache, WPRocket & ShortPixel.

cloudflare set up

Configuring this tool is a little beyond the scope of this article…

So I’ll refer you to this excellent tutorial to get it setup.

I’ll just leave this here in case you are unfamiliar with content delivery networks…

content delivery network

Step #6: Test Your Site Again

Once you’ve made all of these changes…

It’s time to test your site again, so head back over to the tools-

And run each of your URL’s through them again to see if you have improved (I guarantee you have).

These are the results I had before:

website speed before optimisation

But after a lot of testing and tweaking with various combinations of different plugins…

…I was able to make some significant improvements-

after website speed optimisation

Here are the headlines-

  • Average page size reduced by 62% (2,262KB vs 843KB)
  • Average number of requests reduced by 59% (166 vs 68)
  • Average load time reduced by 41% (6.4 seconds vs 3.8)
  • Average mobile Google page speed score increased by 78% (28 vs 50)
  • Average desktop Google page speed score increased by 29% (72 vs 93)

All of these improvements were made with the ultimate setup that I am sharing below.

Please post screenshot of your results in the comments!

The Ultimate Setup To Increase Your Website Speed

If you follow the 6x steps above, you can increase your website speed without spending a penny and also give a better user experience and increase sales.

But if you are serious about increasing your website speed and improving your core web vitals

…you need to invest a little bit of money.

I’ve spent lot’s of time testing different combinations of services and plugins on this blog.

This is the final combination I settled on and what is currently powering things behind the scenes on my sites to get a faster load speed-


It has a ton of features that you don’t get in W3 Total Cache like combining and optimising Google Font files.

All the way through to optimizing Google Analytics and your Facebook Pixel-

google analytics facebook optimisation

As you can see it’s easy to use and it’s jam packed with a bunch of features all focused on making your website load faster.

Take a look at my NitroPack review if you want a solid alternative.


ShortPixel took images that had already being compressed with the free WPSmush plugin and then compressed them a futher 46%-

image compression stats

Not only that:

But you can shave an additional 25-36% off your images by clicking 2 boxes to deploy the WebP image format-

how to enable webp images

These are also compatible with WPRocket’s lazy loading feature! Double whammy!

Last Resort: Change Your Hosting

Your website’s speed starts with the foundation that your site is built on.

Tweaks and plugins can only get you so far.

So if you are serious about increasing your website’s speed, you might want to consider changing your hosting.

Especially if you’re paying less than $10/mo for your current host because your website is likely stuck on a server with thousands of other sites slowing you down.

I recently built 12 sites on 12 of the “fastest” hosts to find out who really offers the fastest Wordpress hosting.

And surprisingly, the most expensive hosting WAS NOT the fastest Wordpress hosting.

When I switched to WordPress focused hosting a few years back, I instantly shaved one second off my load time AND they did the migration for me:

page speed improvement

There are two hosting services I’d advise you to use-

Recommendation #1: WPXHosting

They boast that they’re the fastest WordPress hosting in the world and my testing confirmed it.

They beat out much more expensive hosts in nearly every test category.

Wordpress hosting speed test results

Their packages start from around $20/month and you can host 5 websites.

Plus they offer free migrations which really takes the headache out of moving host!

Not only are they the fastest Wordpress host, but they also have excellent support!

Plus who can argue with feedback like this from social media-

wpx hosting feedback from other people

And WPXHosting includes a bunch of awesome features like one click backups, a staging site, free SSL AND an excellent CDN service!

Please see my dedicated WPX Hosting review for more information.

Recommendation #2: Kinsta

They are the current host of this blog.
(that may change in the future seeing as WPX Hosting won my test AND are cheaper)

It’s more expensive at $30 per month and you can host 1 website.

But most importantly they have their own server level caching solution that’s built on the Google cloud platform.

They also performed well in my Wordpress hosting test and offer things like free migrations, one click backups, a staging site, free SSL AND free CDN!

The support is top notch as well! I am constantly throwing them weird problems to solve and they go the extra mile to solve them.

They offer services like cloud storage to help reduce the amount of stored information.

Regardless of which one you choose…

 You should definitely consider investing in better hosting for your site.

You will see improvements in page load times across the board if you do.

Wrapping It Up

 Your website speed is paramount to the success of your business.
Not only is it one of Google’s official ranking factors, but it’s one of your customers rankings factors as well but is a common problem in todays digital marketing-

page speed

Even a short delay could cost your businesses thousands of dollars.

On the other hand a small improvement could seriously increase your bottom line.

You’ve got 2 choices on how to do that-

  1. Use the 6x free steps above
  2. Or invest in the ultimate setup to increase website speed

If you follow either of those paths, you’ll see a drastic change in your website’s speed, your bounce rate should decrease and you’ll build a happy customer base who have no reason to leave.

And once you have taken care of that and ensured you can provide a great user experience on mobile devices and desktops…

You might want to take advantage of another confirmed Google ranking factor – HTTPS.

What Are Your Thoughts?

202 Responses

  1. Thanks once again, Mathew, you have a value-laden post here full of actionable tips and advice on how to stop losing traffic and business due to poor SEO…Each of the 6 steps can be implemented without that much of a hassle, and I am sure results will follow. I have shared this with my team and also on Facebook…Let’s get the word out there, I for one want to maximize traffic, leads, and sales. I will use the switching of hosts as a last resort because it will not be painless, I have too many websites! Is there some sort of package deal with a switch to WPX hosting for more websites? I would be switching 7 over in one crack…Great info and thanks again for all that you do!Cheers,Dave : )

    1. Hey Dave, couldn’t have put it better myself :)With regards to switching to WPX Hosting, that would be a question for their team. They are mega helpful so should be able to deal with your query quickly.

  2. Hey Matt,Fantastic write up. I’ve heard that you can now use Cloudflare even if you’re using Kinsta, whereas in the past they were on the list of banned services for Kinsta users.Have you ever ran Cloudflare with Kinsta hosting? I’m curious how the Kinsta CDN compares to Cloudflare.I appreciate ya!-Matt

    1. You’re welcome Sandy – there’s plenty more across my blog and in the meantime I hope this helped you reach your target load speed 🙂

  3. No problem at all Matthew. I know its a lot to take in and hopefully some of your readers will find it useful. Do let me know if you implement any of these fella.loving the blog btw.Phillip

  4. Matt,An excellent post indeed and it still should work for most of your commenters here. As a freelance web developer of ten plus years experience I have learned a lot about site speed, coding and hosting.I liked reading the comments left by R.Rogerson and I think he left some excellent and solid tips. However I like to go further and extol the virtues that less is most definitely more.As a web developer I wanted to break into the blogging side of things and share what I have learned these past few years as a web developer and hopefully help out a few people in the process.I secured myself a brilliant domain (Thought about entering it here but will leave this up to you Matt), installed WordPress on my 20i server and set about coding the theme.At the time after launching back in march and with zero optimizations my results were as follows:PageSpeed Score C (71%) | Yslow Score D (64%) | 8.4s Fully Loaded Time | 966KB and 60 RequestsToday though the results are as follows: PageSpeed Score A (98%) | Yslow Score A (98%) | 1.3s Fully Loaded Time | 437KB and 26 RequestsI also ran the site for mobile on Lighthouse for Chrome and those results were even better: 100 Performance | 97 Accessibility | 86 Best Practices | 100 SEO with a 0.8s First Contentful Paint all on Mobile. Looking at it on mine its virtually instant.As you can see quite a difference is made for just a few hours of work. I think I know a couple of things when it comes to site speed. The site has 4 plugins and a custom theme that’s only 379 KB and compare that to DIVI which is 3.12 MB.On the blog I only have 4 plugins namely: dark mode (for eye strain), SyntaxHighlighter Evolved (to show off my code), Triberr & Yoast SEO for obvious reasons.I have written a couple of posts on Sitespeed already but I want to give you and your readers a couple of quick overview tips.1. WEBP – I use these on the site with a function I have coded and I use this format for my background image and favicon as WEBP is the new super small image file format developed by google themselves. For others like Logos I used to use PNG but now I use SVG’s instead (I can animate these as well as its just plain code).2. Plugins – I use a little as possible, as a web developer I prefer to code in the functionality a plugin provides right into the theme which renders the plugin needed redundant, also as R.Rogerson has said these plugins often have load’s of JS and CSS files bloating them out.3. – Minimize and Compress, quite obvious really why do we needs loads of CSS and JS files. I usually have just three JS files: Jquery.mini.js jquery-migrate.mini.js and what I like to call master.mini.js that handles all my other functions and I load everything into my functions.php file, the same goes with the css files like normalize, WordPress, media, style and so on. Less is more.4. StackPath – Hands down the best CDN out there which renders all caching plugins obsolete and redundant as I have my whole site Caching on the CDN using their Full site Delivery. Ben Gabler the COO of StackPath emailed me after I tweeted about them and how impressed I was. He explained that I could get even more speed by pointing the whole site to them and have it Caching on the EDGE and at only $10 a month its well worth it. I wrote a step by step post on how to set this up that anyone with a little knowledge can achieve in a few hours.5. Hire a Web Developer – Yes OK, I know I am one but if you like the look of DIVI or some of those over over bloated themes out there then a good freelance developer that specializes in bespoke themes can achieve the same results that is usually a tenth of the size of the so called PRO themes and is faster than a Cheetah on white powder. Well I hope that I have given some food for thought here Matt and if anyone needs some tips or serious advice I am prepared to help the first 3 on here that ask’s for it but please introduce me via my email.Best,Phillip

    1. Thanks Phillip – definitely food for thought! Will need to put aside some time to process it all. Thanks for taking the time to write all this info 🙂

  5. Your explanation is so detailed and easy to understand, thank you, for sharing, I’m waiting for further information

    1. No worries Agoes I hope this page was effective and helped you reduce problems with load speed without needing to change your hosting 🙂

  6. If could get an extra £28k from a few plugins I would be a very happy boy.But great info for moving forward.Thanks for more great info

    1. It was a magical time and a fantastic source of income for not a lot of work other than having a play around with an application or two 🙂

  7. Hi Matthew,Thank you for the always excellent post.I found Cloudflare work best with the free version of WP Fastest Cache. I am sure with premium version even better. I also use smush (free).The website experience traffic increase once the speed increase from 3.x to 2.x seconds.

  8. Thank you Mat, am a fan of your great blog but I don’t think changing host will be suitable for my pocket now as a student. Right now am using namecheap I don’t know how you see there service

  9. Truly, speed is the king when you’re among the top 5 on the SERP. I have faced a lot of problems because of it but still, need help with optimizing mobile speed

    1. Yes Rahul it makes so much difference having speed on your side and you are right to focus on mobile users. A slow load will loose sooooo many shoppers on mobile devices.

    1. Thanks very much, every one needs to target their site speed metrics to be successful, whether they have an ecommerce store an seo agency or a cooking blog. 🙂

  10. Hi Matthew, do you have a promotional code for ANNUAL wpxhosting? My website is non commercial, just informative and 21 USD/month is a lot to me.Or what is the 2nd best Wordpress hosting that you recommend ? Thanks a lot

    1. Thanks for the save I hope you can use these practices to enable a faster site speed 🙂

    1. Cheers! I hope you found the mentioned practices gave your sites a better user experience and lowered your bounce rate.

  11. You have so much wonderful information and has really motivated me to pursue my long waited goal of starting a blog. I feel a little unsure still, so any additional tips on getting started and what to write (I know what I want to make my blog about, just unsure what to say to keep interest really) would be really appreciated!

  12. As a local business, l found image size was a massive influence on our page speed – we had some really large image sizes in our Case Studies & compressing all these & making them jpeg (some were png) helped a lot

    1. Hey Alison, really pleased you were able to speed your local business site up I hope this helps when serving existing and future customers! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  13. im not able to get website traffic even single user on my website pls help me how i use your information properly, i tried but im not able to do that as per your recommendation.

  14. heyamazing content and it was very helpful and very well explained.i am really impressed by the quality you have delivered through this blog.great work! keep writing.It was of great help!also click for more info on the same topic and related.

  15. my website very slow . find many website . your website is best . i follow all website speed tips . Thanks for sharing.

    1. No problem I hope you found it valuable and didn’t need to change your hosting management

  16. A very complete post. The thing about how to optimize site speed. $ 50 per month for hosting is big enough for me, but it’s not impossible to do.Thanks for the excellent free plugin

  17. Wow, super great and very detailed post about optimizing site speed. Awesome.I don’t think that i can afford $50 per month for hosting yet, but when i do, i think i’ll also migrate (hostgator can be really slow sometimes).And i found several awesome free plugin from this tutorial, thanks a lot!

    1. No problem Yugni, a paid hosting management will give you many benefits with security as well as speed!

    1. No problem Robert! Remember to give you website a speed check scan often to help reduce the size of images and video

  18. I’d be interested in seeing if you had to do anything special with CloudFlare. I’m about to add it to my domain but I am also interested in the Amazon S3 feature. Just not sure if there is a problem, SEO wise, with images indexing like was the problem with Max CDN.

  19. This is great! I’m actually in the process of working on some of this now. I’m switching hosting companies and will be using CloudFront. Max CDN was alright, but I didn’t want to pay the expensive charges. Have you looked into possibly using Amazon S3 to host all your images? I was talking to someone recently who uses a CDN + has her images hosted on Amazon S3. Apparently has like killer load times.

  20. If there are any range which is considered GOOD site speed?My website has 15 seconds.After i did:WP OptimizeTotal CashRemoved and deactivated the plugins i dont useOptimized the mages..And now my score shows different time in different system:By Google Page Speed: 88/100 (was around 44/100)By Pingdom: 3,36 (strange coz before it showed 2 seconds)By other system is: Pagespeed score 95%, 3,6 secondsBy Page performance test: everything AAAAA,shows 4 seconds.I still cannot understand if that good or i should to optimize more…all the systems shows very good score,but the loading time 3,5 seconds.Any thoughts? Or do u think i can leave it like that ?

    1. I’ve seen a lot worse in my time and you are probably at the point where the only other optimization you could do is to move hosting.

  21. Looks like I need to remove Statcounter and some of the features of Sumome as they seem to take the longest to load.All my images are run through Photoshop and saved at the correct size and ‘Saved for Web’, which strips out a load of superfluous data from JPEG images and dramatically reduces their size without affecting quality.When I first started my website I just let the software sort out image sizes and it wasn’t til I knew a bit more about what I was doing so was able to check the sizes on the server that I realised I had uploaded images far larger than I needed, and they were resized when they were being downloaded to the visitor’s computer. Great, informative article, thank you.

    1. No problem Chris, glad to be of service. I hope once you remove those elements you’ll see a difference in speed metrics 🙂

  22. Wow…it is really a great article on the given topics… I appreciate your writing and the way you convey to reduce the page…yeah it’s really helpful for extra money… but how they measure up the result…

  23. Hi Matt, I’m studying how to fast one of my website, and this article from you is perfect! (I read it when you posted it, but only now I needed to make these changes).On this post the links to WPEngine are not working, I was thinking you are losing money for that, but later I read the other post about AVOID WPEngine, so probably you just deleted that affiliation.Right?Anyway another great article with fantastic tips, thanks a lot!

    1. No problem, hope they helped you reduce the amount of time it takes your store to be fully loaded. 🙂

  24. got rid of facebook comments and whoa! that was really slowing my site down – thanks for taking the time to put together this and all your other articles Matt

  25. Of course they are solid tips – I made them :DA cheat option is to get the host to deploy the Page Speed Mod.Personally, I much prefer to get hands on and make tweaks in the code, the DB and the files … but for time and quick solutions, using a server mod that handles compression, caching, conjoining files etc., it’s worth looking at.

  26. So … where to start?1) Reduce requests >> Merge files!Most of your CSS files can be put into a single CSS file.Same goes for JS. You have to be careful of the order – keep files loading in the same order as they appeared in the header/bodyImages can be trickier – you may opt for spritemaps, or for data-images in css files (or spritemaps in css-data-images).2) Compression >> Gzip/DeflateMake sure that what you send is as small as possible.If at all possible, save compressed versions and send those. Failing that, set the server to compress them when sent.Images can be saved with better filters.There are sites like smush.it, or software like pngcrush you can use.3) Optimise the resource references >> HTML it right.Make sure images are defined with a size. Make sure you load as much JS at the bottom of body as you can.4) Load smarter >> Use 3rd party libraries.Both Google and Yahoo supply URLs for things like JQuery and others.You can load them from their servers.That means less resources from your server, plus increased chances of users already having the files cached.Be smart, use a load mechanism that looks for good responses or that time out after a second or two – and then load a local version from your server (saves hanging and slowing your site down).5) Ditch the bad requests >> No 404’s/301’sDo Not reference resources that are at the wrong address. 404’s sow things down. 301’s slow things down. This is especially true of 3rd party content, like advertisers etc. Be aware that if you are loading content from a 3rd party, they may load multiple files … so that little frame that loads from their site may load a couple of images, a CSS file or 6…6) Asynch/Defer >> Load smarterIn many cases, you can load JS and external resources asynchronously, or in a deferred state. This means no bottlenecks waiting for them to finish loading before the next set get fetched.Becareful – if you have dependant code that relies on other files, or values from other scripts/functions … load order may mess with your results.7) Cache, Cache Cache >> re-use itIn most cases, content and resources won’t have changed. Making people reload all those files is silly.Make sure things like CSS/JS/Images that haven’t changed send correct cache headers so people don’t have to re-download.For every step you take – test, test and test again.Refresh the page, clear out the browser cache, clear out any website cache, use proxies to test.Try using things like gtmetrix.com, pingdom.com webpagespeedtest.org etc.None of this is rocket science.None of this is new.But you could, in most cases, get your site to load in 2.2 or less seconds.Anything over that may need more looking at.

  27. Load Times have been semi-important for a long time.But, like most other things – it’s not until a Search Engine mentions it that it becomes recognised.Years ago both Google and Yahoo start talking about page load speeds.The upshot was a bunch of half-baked SEOs bleating about PageSpeed as a ranking factor … missing that it was Slow sites that got the ranking adjustment, downwards. Fast sites did not get a boost.Then motivators from the UX world picked up the torch, and those from the Mobile world … and it fell mostly on deaf ears … because it doesn’t increasing rankings!There’s tons you can do to speed up your sites.Most of the blame will lie with crummy templates bought from supposedly reputable theme sites.The truth of the matter is that most of those designers couldn’t code their way out of a paper bag. They are photoshop jockeys that convert pretty images into html markup.They are more than happy to leave the template with 12 CSS files, loading 2 different JS libraries (locally, no looking for 3rd parties like Googles JQ api), and then loading 15 different plugins … most of them not even used on most pages!The next culprit is then the server setup and the CMS code.You’d be amazed at the number of hosts that still don’t setup basic cache directives correctly.Then you have the joy of dynamic sites with poorly considered header responses.Things like cache control headers etc. are alien (hell, lets face it, it was about a handful of years ago that the main CMS out there acknowledged their lack of proper http responses).Even with tools that tell you what is wrong and how to fix it (yahoo and google both made tools!), the “professionals” still don’t bother!

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