How to speed up my website for free? ( In 11 Steps )

A lot of beginner bloggers do not know how important their website speed actually is, in fact how fast your website loads will directly impact your rankings. Google has been using mobile-first indexing for some time already and they use this because most of the internet traffic is coming from mobile devices. The problem with mobile devices is that a lot of them have fairly bad internet, although they are quickly catching up.

You can speed up your website for free by changing the theme, changing the hosting, optimizing images, using lazy load, updating WordPress, updating the PHP version, using fewer ads, hosting affiliate banners, using a cache plugin, limiting the number of plugins and by using a CDN.

One of the easiest ways to speed up your site is by changing the hosting company, my personal recommendation is to use WPX which is the fastest, and this is the main reason why I also use them on my website, I bet it loaded in an instant for you Click here to check it out

If you have been browsing around the internet for ways on how you can speed up your website then you have noticed that there are a lot of services targeting this specific term. The truth is that site speed optimization is big business, and it can cost you a lot of money to speed up your website. Some website speed optimization services are fairly good, while others can be extremely misleading. Don’t get me wrong, most services will improve your site speed but the way they are doing it will be different.

Some services do not actually optimize your website to load faster, instead what they tend to do is to make a cloaker for the google bot so the bot sees a smaller portion of your website and this will make your page speed insight scores fairly high both on mobile and on desktop. My personal recommendation is to not do this, as sooner or later Google will identify the cloaker and it might even penalize your website.

You do not actually have to spend any money or have any coding skills to optimize your website, there are a couple of issues which are probably dragging down your website load speed and you can fix them. Before doing any kind of optimization on your website I recommend that you make a full website backup, although not a lot can go wrong but better safe than sorry. Blog comments can also slow down your website, for more information check out my recent article Should I disable comments on my blog? ( Top 10 Reasons ).

Change WordPress theme

One of the main reasons why your website is loading slowly is due to the theme, this is true both for free and premium themes. Most website themes are made to be compatible with a lot of page builders, plugins, and so on, this will make the theme contain a lot of unnecessary fluff which will never be used. Generally speaking, the slowest loading WordPress themes are the ones that display a lot of images on the home page like magazine style themes.

The more images on the homepage the slower your site speed will be, as the server will have to render a lot of images all at once. The good news is that you do not even have to spend any money to have a fast loading WordPress theme as the fastest loading themes are actually free. The downside of some of these fast loading themes is that they come with limited functionality,  although you can add more functionality with plugins. The fastest loading themes are Astra, GeneratePress, and Ocean Wp. If you want more information about WP themes and which one to use than check out my recent article How to choose a WordPress theme? ( In 15 Steps ).

Change hosting

The second thing which you want to look at to speed up your website is your hosting. Most hosting companies will do just fine for a simple blog, although their performance will wary from one hosting company to another. Most hosting companies are fairly bad, both in terms of page speed and in the quality of their support, so if you want to speed up your website you should avoid at any costs using hosting from Endurance International Group (EIG) this company has been buying up smaller hosting companies like Bluehost and after they take over they overcrowd their servers and support goes down the drain.

There are a couple of hosting companies that do focus on speed, although they tend to be a bit more expensive than regular hosting. If you are on a tight budget then you can use SiteGround, they are relatively cheap and they are fairly good. On the other hand, if speed is the most important thing to you then I personally recommend WPX hosting, I have used a lot of hosting companies through the years but WPX outperforms them all, and yes I am actually using them on this website as well click here to check it out.

Optimize images

Images often tend to slow down a website significantly, as most images contain a lot of data like GPS locations and other metadata. There are a lot of websites and plugins which you can use to strip the images from their metadata and this will decrease their size and will make them load faster. The most popular image optimization plugins are Smush and tiny pixel, both are free and they will do the job for you.

Use lazy load

Lazy load is when the images are loaded progressively or one at a time, this makes will make your website load a lot faster.  The problem with most sites is that the server will try and load all the images at once thus increasing the page load speed. There are a lot of plugins which can lazy load, some are better than others, in my opinion, the best ones are the Lazy Load from WP Rocket and Smush.

Lazy load is not only for images if you have embedded videos than you can lazy load them as well. This way the actual video will not load, instead an image will appear with the YouTube play button on it, once the user clicks the button the video will load and play.

Update WordPress

Not a lot of people update their WordPress regularly, this is a big mistake although I can understand why so many people are reluctant to update. Oftentimes if you are using plugins that are no longer updated, and you update to the latest version of WordPress you might find that the plugin isn’t working anymore. In this case, my suggestion is to make a full backup of your site and update WordPress, then test it if everything is working correctly.

WordPress often updates with new features, bug fixes, and optimization, which means that the latest WordPress version should be the fastest one due to optimization.

Update PHP version

If you have a relatively old website and you are with the same hosting company for a couple of years already than odds are that your PHP version is not up to date. Hosting companies will never automatically update the PHP version as it can break some of the functionality on your website. This happens mostly when some of the themes or plugins have not been updated in a long time and thus making them incompatible with the latest PHP version.

Generally speaking, the latest PHP versions tend to perform a lot faster than the older ones. You can update the PHP version on your host in the cPanel, if you do not have access to cPanel than ask your hosting company to update the PHP version for you. Do note that by updating the PHP version means that every website in your hosting account will use the latest PHP version, so it is a good idea to make a full website backup for each of your websites.

Use fewer ads

If you are using Adsense on your website then this is one of the main reasons why your website is loading so slow. The problem is that every ad has to go through a 3rd party server which takes time, and oftentimes the images used on the ads are not even optimized which makes the loading time even slower. Generally speaking, the more ads you have on any given page the slower your website will load.

Besides pulling all the ads down your other option is to limit the number of ads that appear on your website. Generally speaking 2-3 ads on a given post should be enough, your site will still not load as fast as it could but it is better than nothing.

Host affiliate banners

If you have an affiliate website and you are using a lot of banners to promote them than you should host the banners on your website. The less outside connections your website needs to fully load the faster it will load. Simply copy the banner URL and go to this will lower the image size and once you upload it to your site it will load a lot faster. This way you will avoid the problem of your server trying to load a banner from a 3rd party server, especially if the 3rd party server is slow or is offline for some reason.

Use a cache plugin

Cache plugins are excellent for speeding up your website, some of them operate in different ways but for the most, they all do the same thing. I personally use Autoptimize, it is extremely easy to set up and over the years it has worked just fine. Most of these cache plugins are free, so you don’t have to buy a premium plugin, as most of them do exactly the same thing which is creating a cache of your website for faster loading.

Limit the number of plugins

Plugins tend to slow down the loading speed of your website significantly. Generally speaking the more plugins you have the more noticeable their negative impact on loading speed will be. If there are a couple of plugins that you no longer use than delete them, even if they are not active they will still have some scripts loading in the background when your website is loading and this is why you should delete them.

Try to clean up your plugins, odds are that some of your plugins were installed for a one time use, and you should delete this. Plugins which insert related posts in your articles also should be deleted, there is probably a similar function in your WordPress theme already. Try to minimize the number of plugins that you use as much as possible. If you are using SEO plugins then you should read my recent article Should I use an SEO plugin?.

Use a CDN

A CDN is a Content Delivery Network, which basically means that the content form your website will be loaded through their servers, and ideally on a server which is closest to the user. Generally speaking the closer the server is to the user the faster your website will load for them. Some CDN’s are free while others have a monthly fee, the most popular one is Cloudflare. Cloudflare is good but only if you use the paid option.

A lot of people jump on using Cloudflare as CDN because it also has a free version, the problem is that the free version will not actually speed up your site. The free version is simply there so they can take the IP’s of bots and other harmful crawlers, black list them, and use the list to protect their premium users, basically, you are the product.

In conclusion

As you can see you can speed up your website in a couple of steps and if you do not need to change hosting than it will not cost you any money. My personal recommendation is to focus first on the on-page optimization and from there on see how fast you can get your website and maybe consider changing hosting as well.

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