So you’ve seen the “site speed error” in Google’s Search Console and hit the panic button.
Your site is doomed and you don’t know what to do.
I know how you feel and it sucks.
Lucky for you, you don’t have to go through the same craziness that I did in the last couple of months.
Not only did I lose money and traffic but I could not figure out what my problem really was.
I hired a developer (don’t do that), installed and uninstalled plugins, and did whatever I felt possible to speed my site up.
Sleepless nights without much content creation, all because I want to please Google.
It sucks but as an SEO-er, these kinds of things are expected.
I mean, if you want to rank higher in Google, then guess what?
You have to go with what they want and expect.
With the crazy animal updates (and even simple ones), you can’t do much but brace yourself and hope your house is still there when the storm passes.
Lucky for you, I’m going to leave out the mistakes and show you exactly what has worked for me.
For now, don’t hire a developer.
Unless your site has more issues than it moving at a turtle’s pace.
For this post alone, let’s focus on speed.
So, how do you Speed up your website to get out of the red in Google’s site speed test?
Here’s how I did it.
1. Do Not Panic
This is the first step to making your website fast or dealing with anything that might be causing you any problems.
Whenever I’ve had an issue that I felt was affecting my rankings in the search engines, I acted in a way that I would not recommend.
I would make any changes that anyone else mentioned, and that has got to be the stupidest thing I have done.
That only led to me running in circles and with a site that was still slow.
Frustration started to set in, and I almost threw in the towel.
Thinking I could just focus on another niche, I started working on another site I owned.
Overwhelmed and feeling defeated, I decided to do more research.
With that research, I was able to pinpoint one of the main site speed issues, and that is what I will be getting into next.
2. Upgrade Your Hosting (preferably with CDN)
If there is one thing that is most important when it comes to websites, it is definitely going to be your hosting.
I am no geek or nerd, so I’m going to let the fine folks at Cloudflare explain what CDN is.
However, I can tell you that it is a cloud-based network that allows your website visitors to receive your content faster.
Thanks to the servers being geographically placed, the time to load your site is a whole lot faster.
Being the not-so-computer-savvy dude, I use and recommend WPX hosting.
So, if you’re anything like me, you might want to check them out.
Do know that cloud-based hosting is not cheap, though, and you will be paying quite a bit for such an improvement.
I also recommend SiteGround as a more affordable option, but that is if you aren’t going to opt for their cloud hosting services.
Either one of these hosting providers will improve your site’s speed, and they are a lot more affordable than the rest.
Of course, there are more to choose from, but these two are definitely in the top 5, if not the top 2.
3. Use a Simple Theme
Your website is going to sit on a theme, and you are going to have to deal with it for as long as you decide to keep that site alive.
With such themes comes customizing and all the bells and whistles.
As humans, we are drawn to the “prettier” things in life, and the same thing applies to our online real estate.
We want the best look and feel for our site, so we tend to drift toward the more complex and complicated themes imaginable.
The problem with these themes is that they do the one thing we don’t want them to do.
They slow your site down.
When choosing a theme, you want to go with something lightweight, comes with what is necessary, and does not take a whole class to learn.
I know we all want the prettiest site in town, but if you’re not the designer type, all that fancy stuff will only make it worse.
Get a theme that’s ready to go out of the box, and you should be good to go.
There are a bunch of freemium themes, but I do recommend you purchase a premium theme.
This way, you won’t have to upgrade just because you liked one thing from their premium deal.
I’m using the Mai Lifestyle Pro theme, which uses the Genesis Framework.
It’s always been great for SEO, and it is also very simple.
4. Check Your Plugins
You love them, but you hate them at the same time.
They make life a hundred times easier, but they are usually the culprit when it comes to site issues.
They come with a very basic installation process but come with all kinds of issues on the backend.
Download this, whitelist that, uninstall this, add that.
If you’ve ever dealt with this kind of stuff, you know what I mean.
If you haven’t, well, this might just be why your site’s speed is probably slow.
The rule of thumb when dealing with plugins is this.
What works for some might not work for others.
Just because so and so big-shot marketer is using X plugin does not mean you should too.
Our sites are different, our niches are different, and our marketing strategies are different.
All this means when it comes to plugins is that some just don’t play well with others.
Just because things look great on the front end and your score has gone up does not mean things are working properly in the background.
The best way to handle this is to work hand in hand with your hosting provider, theme developer, and the owners of the plugins you might have issues with.
When in doubt, do not use a plugin for the sole purpose of making your site look prettier.
Sometimes you need to make that sacrifice, especially if you want to make your website faster.
5. Cache Properly
More plugins usually come with more problems.
However, when it comes to speeding up your site, a nice cache plugin is going to be a must.
There are so many things that load from your site and its server, and there needs to be something in place to distribute this information.
This is when caching comes into play.
The thing about cache plugins is that there are many of them out there and some come with a whole bunch of other website optimization features.
I have used many of the free stuff in WordPress but there is only one plugin I would ever recommend when it comes to cache plugins.
Once you install this plugin, you will see a big difference.
My site speed got faster, but there was one thing that I didn’t like.
My site speed score on Google’s little site speed tool.
I can see and feel the difference, but why in the world did my score go down?
Of course, I was worried, but that’s the great thing about having premium anything.
I had support that could help me understand what the heck was going on.
The first thing they said was, “Do not ever worry about that score. Your site is faster.”
This taught me a big lesson on these site speed tools, and now I am at ease knowing that my site is actually working better, even with a score that might not be the best.
There is a lot more to understand when it comes to this, but I’m not going to cover it here.
Just know that WP Rocket is one awesome plugin that you will want to try.
You won’t find them in WordPress either, so check them out here to learn more.
6. Optimize Images
This step also requires the use of a plugin.
Image optimization is a must if you want to make your site faster.
There are many plugins that do such a thing, but you have to be really careful with this one.
As website owners in need of a plugin, we tend to drift towards those that have 10 million stars and are used by more people.
That’s great and usually recommended, but you always have to make sure things are working properly.
One other plugin might want to pick a fight with your soon-to-be image-optimizing plugin, so be aware that these things do happen.
Of course, I would recommend a certain plugin, but I would actually like to give you a few.
This way, you can see which one works best for you.
If you are using SiteGround, you’re in luck, as they have their very own plugin for this kind of stuff.
I personally am not with them anymore, so I am using one that was recommended by WP Rocket called Imagify.
That’s what I use, and it is a free plugin that works great.
There are many others like EWW Optimizer, so just go with what works best for your site.
7. Test, Test, and Test Again
Everything mentioned in this post will help speed up your website.
Now, just because you install a plugin and get better hosting does not mean you’re good to go.
As I mentioned earlier, sometimes one thing won’t work well with something else.
This is when the premium help comes into play.
Contact your hosting provider and ask them to ensure that everything is running smoothly on their end.
In most cases, they can tell you if a plugin left some of its files behind which they can clear out for you.
Ensure everything is working and keep in contact with the support that comes with the products you are using with your site.
Lastly, test things in real life.
Is your site actually faster?
Can you see a difference, or does it still feel slow?
The best way to test is going to be through you actually doing it yourself.
Clear your cache, use a different browser, and also try using another network.
Cache plugins will usually have your site flying if you have visited it before, so do keep that in mind before you go thinking that you’re a genius.
Other Helpful Tid Bits
Continue to monitor your site.
Sometimes, a problem might not be instant, and you will not see any issues just yet.
One plugin might get pissed off later, so make sure everyone is getting along.
For images, try to download smaller files that won’t take much compressing after you upload it to your site.
Definitely upgrade your hosting and consider getting one with CDN.
Don’t focus too much on the cosmetics on your site, as that usually requires more plugins and will slow your site down.
Do limit the number of plugins on your site, and please test each one before assuming that you found “the one.”
The most important thing you can learn from this post is going to be this.
DO NOT focus on any site speed testing tool’s score!
Just because one says your site is slow does not mean it actually is.
And just because another says your site is extremely fast does not mean it is either.
YOU can tell if your site is faster, so use that before believing some little tool.
Conclusion – Make Your Site Faster
If you are in the business of trying to rank higher in the search engines and get thousands of visitors, it will be wise to speed up your website.
The investments you make now will increase your ROI in the future.
Do what you know works, and don’t settle for anything less.
I hope this post has helped you in one way or another.
There isn’t much information like this out there, so I’m sure you can appreciate the simplicity that most sites can’t provide.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section below.
I know I am not the most computer-savvy kind of guy, but this is as simple as it gets.
For you coders, I’m sure you can share a ton of information.
We all have our tricks, though, so please share them in the comments section below.
And if you absolutely can not get your website to be faster, maybe you can consider hiring a developer.
You can find some on Upwork and Fiverr, so you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg.
Other than that, thanks for reading, and good luck!