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9 Ways to Make Your Website Super Fast

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Nothing is more frustrating than a slow website.

A slow website is bad not only for the end-user, but also for search engine optimization (SEO). Meaning, it can cause your website to rank lower in search engine results. That translates to fewer page views and less ad revenue or customer conversion for you.

Below I share nine ways you can make your website load faster. While this article shares some general tips, it also includes some for WordPress sites only. Throughout the article, I indicate clearly which tips are for WP users, and which can be for everyone.

To make it easier to move around the article, here is a table of contents:

Why your website’s speed matters

How to check your website’s speed

9 ways to make your website load faster

  1. Improve your hosting plan
  2. Understand HTTP requests
  3. Make images internet-friendly
  4. Use plugins sparingly (WP sites only)
  5. Cut down on external scripts
  6. Optimize JS and CSS files
  7. Take advantage of caching
  8. Eliminate website baggage
  9. Use a content delivery network (CDN)

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Why your website’s speed matters

The speed of your website matters for two reasons:

  1. Your user’s experience
  2. SEO

When it comes to user experience, Google’s research experiments show that faster site speed leads to happier users, increased productivity, and more time users spend browsing.

Moreover, research by Kissmetrics showed that 40% of people will abandon a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load. 47% of users expect a page to load in two seconds or less.

Overall, the speed of your site has a greater impact on user satisfaction than extra “bells and whistles”. It doesn’t matter how great a site looks: if it loads too slowly, users will click away.

Regarding SEO, Google uses site speed as one of the many factors that determines rank (how high your page appears in search results).

To determine rankings, Google factors pagespeed on both desktop and mobile platforms. If your site’s speed isn’t up to par, you can suffer ranking penalties.

Bing also uses pagespeed as a factor.

The reason why site speed matters is that search engines want to point users to sites with the best overall experience and information. Users can’t access all the great info you have if your site is unbearably slow.

How to check your website’s speed

To tell whether your website is slow or not, use one of the many free tools out there designed to report just that. Here are several:

  1. Google’s PageSpeed Insights: Google’s very own tool. Gives mobile and desktop recommendations.
  2. Pingdom: Useful for all skill levels. Reviews site performance, grades it, and tracks performance history so you can see how your site speed has changed.
  3. GTmetrix: One of the most popular tools out there. GTmetrix analyzes how well your site loads, checking both PageSpeed and YSlow scores. It also gives suggestions on how to improve the load time.
  4. YSlow: Grades webpages on how they meet established high-performance guidelines. Also summarizes the different components of the website and allows you to view the analysis, offers advice on how to improve your site. YSlow offers a Chrome extension to test the speed of websites.

My personal favorite is Google’s PageSpeed Insights. It’s easy to use and the results are presented clearly. It also organizes suggestions by “should fix”, “consider fixing”, and “passed rules”.


I also like Pingdom, and will refer to it more later in the article.
Understand that results can vary from tool to tool. This is completely normal since they have differing metrics and are using different places in the world to test the site.

Now, let’s get on to some ways you can speed up your site and increase your website’s customer appeal.

9 ways to make your website load faster

1. Improve your hosting plan

This is one of the simplest ways you can speed up your website: looking at your server.

Often when we first start out, we go the cheap way and sign up for shared hosting. However, as sites grow in usage and content, they get slower. You can battle this by upgrading your hosting plan (moving to a VPS or dedicated option).

To illustrate, I used to be on Bluehost’s basic shared plan. A few months ago, I noticed my site was slowing down. I tried everything possible to make it faster, but nothing seemed to work. So, I decided to switch to Bluehost’s managed WordPress hosting plan.

After I upgraded from my basic shared plan, I noticed differences right away.

The reason it is so much faster is simple: you get dedicated resources. This means you don't have to share bandwidth, RAM, CPU, etc. with anyone else. Also, the bandwidth limits are also much higher. Moreover, Bluehost has Varnish — which is an extremely optimized caching option that allows a larger number of visitors than shared hosting.

A quick note about VPS vs. dedicated hosting:

VPS hosting is probably the option you want to go with. It’s “in the cloud,” meaning it is distributed over multiple computers, sometimes even hundreds. It’s a scalable solution, and it’s a more affordable solution than dedicated hosting. Bloggers and medium/small businesses will find this option most appealing.

Dedicated servers are like you are renting out a big box. It’s essentially like owning own computer. The biggest upside to dedicated over VPS is that you have full control, because you have all the resources to yourself. However – it is usually much more expensive. And unlike a VPS, it’s less flexible, since you don’t have numerous computers.

For more info on the difference between VPS and dedicated options, check out this article. And for more on the best WordPress hosting options, continue here.

2. Understand HTTP requests

Sites are mainly slow because of too many (or too large) HTTP requests. When you understand HTTP requests, you can better eliminate them.

According to rve.org.uk,

“Whenever your web browser fetches a file (a page, a picture, etc) from a web server, it does so using HTTP – that's “Hypertext Transfer Protocol”. HTTP is a request/response protocol, which means your computer sends a request for some file (e.g. “Get me the file ‘home.html'”), and the web server sends back a response (“Here's the file”, followed by the file itself).”

There are many ways you can reduce or eliminate HTTP requests, which this article covers later.

However, to see how many HTTP requests a page on your site makes, you can run a speed test on Pingdom.


You can see that the learntocodewith.me/blog make 23 requests.

With Pingdom, you can sort the requests by file size and load time. This allows you to see the biggest culprits. The image below was taken on my learntocodewith.me homepage:


As you can see, the large image of me takes the longest to load.

3. Make images internet-friendly

Site size generally, and image sizes specifically, make a huge difference to your site speed. The larger your content/images, the slower the site.

Some basic ways to counteract this is by shrinking the file sizes of images on your site, reducing the number of images you use, or eliminating them altogether. (This is why I removed featured images on my blog reel last year when I redid the site.)

But having no images on your site is boring! Rather than removing them, optimize images before uploading them to your site by:

  1. Changing the resolution: reducing the “quality” of the image (and thereby the file size)
  2. Compressing the picture: increasing the efficiency of image data storage
  3. Cropping the picture: when cropping, you are cutting out unneeded areas and thus making the image smaller in size

You can make these kinds of changes in a premium tool like Photoshop, or a free program like Gimp. There are even in-browser tools like picresize.com.

For Mac users, there is a free program called ImageOptim, which “optimizes compression parameters, removes junk metadata and unnecessary color profiles.”

On WordPress, there is a free plugin called WP-Smushit, which removes hidden information present in images. WP-Smushit scans images as you upload them to WordPress, and prevents unnecessary data from hanging on. It decreases the file size while maintaining the quality of the image.


4. Use plugins sparingly (WP sites only)

Plugin bloat can significantly slow your site performance by creating too many extra files, thus increasing load time.

Try to avoid the use of plugins whenever possible. In my opinion, it’s not possible to avoid plugins entirely. But there are ways you can reduce the overall count.

For starters, if there is an easy way to get around using a plugin – do it. (Example: the Google Analytics plugin. Instead, just add the tracking code to your website footer manually.)

Also, every 4-6 months, set aside time to review your plugins. Evaluate each one and delete it if:

  1. You don’t use it anymore.
  2. It’s not doing what it’s supposed to be doing.
  3. It is “calling deprecated functions”
  4. There are new and improved plugins that will work better

Aside from taking up space, outdated WordPress plugins are often responsible for security vulnerabilities. (Think about it: it’s a third-party package of code on your site.) Just another reason to keep plugin count low.

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5. Cut down on external scripts

You know the snippets of JavaScript code you’ll include to yourto add an extra feature, or library, to your site? These external scripts make HTTP requests every time a new page loads.

Here are some examples of external scripts that could be slowing down your site:

  1. Facebook “like my page” boxes
  2. Bootstrap (if brought in via CDN)
  3. Icon sets like Font Awesome (also when brought in with a CDN)
  4. External commenting systems (like Disqus)
  5. Pop-up boxes and similar lead-capture tools (like SumoMe)
  6. Website analytics services (i.e. Google Analytics or Mixpanel)
  7. External fonts (i.e. Google Fonts)

This isn’t to say you should avoid these altogether (which is difficult to do anyway). Just be aware of this.

To figure out which scripts are especially large, you can turn back to Pingdom to see which files are taking the longest to load.

6. Optimize JS and CSS files

There are two ways you can do this: minification and gzipping (or compression). According to CSS genius Chris Coyier:

“Minification does things like removing whitespace, removing comments, removing non-required semicolons, reducing hex code lengths…”

Gzipping, meanwhile:

“finds all repetitive strings and replaces them with pointers to the first instance of that string.”

For best results, you want to use minifying and gzipping together.

However, gzipping is done at the server level: you must configure it to do it. Chris Coyier talks about it here.

To get started, here are some minifying tools:

  1. (WordPress Plugin) BWP Minify: allows you to combine and minify your CSS and JavaScript files
  2. (WordPress Plugin) W3 Total Cache: This is one of the most popular performance plugins. In fact, I use it on Learn to Code With Me. It offers a suite of performance tools – including the ability to minify files.
  3. WillPeavy: Free HTML, CSS, or JS minifier

Note: if you are using a workflow tool like Grunt or Gulp, you can add NPM packages to minify your files.

7. Take advantage of caching

Page caching is when web pages store static files (like HTML documents and images), which allow visitors to access that page more quickly, since the database does not have to retrieve each file every time there is a request.

The thing with caching, though, is that in most cases it only works for repeat visitors. First-time site visitors won’t have the site cached yet, since the page needs to load files at least once before it stores them.

If you’re a WordPress user, you can install a plugin to enable caching. Here are some popular caching plugins:

  1. W3 Total Cache: most popular performance plugin (the one I use on learntocodewith.me)
  2. WP Super Cache: suggested for high-traffic sites with underpowered servers, seems to be updated most often (created by Automattic)

If you’re not using WordPress, you can configure your site to cache at the server level. Digital Ocean has a handful of helpful caching tutorials.

8. Eliminate website baggage

“Baggage” can be many things—many of which have already been discussed (images, plugins, and external scripts).

Some other common examples of website baggage:

  1. Code that accumulates on your website (like when you go in to make quick fixes, without considering the most productive way to implement the changes)
  2. Databases that have become massive—this can particularly be the case with e-commerce sites with many orders
  3. Too many backups done at the server level
  4. For WordPress users – excessive plugins, themes, saved post and page revisions, and massive media libraries

The main way to clean up extra “baggage” is go in every so often and do a manual overhaul.

Here are some additional pro-tips:

  1. Remove spam comments or trackbacks that you don’t need.
  2. Store media files like PDF downloads externally on Amazon S3 (which is what I do)
  3. For WP users: remove older installations of WordPress on your server.
  4. For WP users: use a plugin like WP-Optimize which allows you to clean up your database more efficiently

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9. Use a content delivery network (CDN)

I saved CDNs for last because this is more “advanced,” especially for a newbie.

A CDN is essentially many optimized servers around the world that deliver web content to users based on their geographic location. This means big performance improvements for site users. Because, say, if a person accessing your site in India, they will be retrieving web content from a server nearby, rather than across the world in Utah.

Here’s what you can store on a CDN:

  • JS files
  • CSS files
  • Images
  • Other uploaded files (like videos, PDFs)

Some common CDNs include:

  1. MaxCDN
  2. CloudFlare
  3. Amazon CloudFront

If you’re on a WordPress site, and already are using the popular W3 Total Cache plugin, here is some good news: it integrates with MaxCDN, so you can get running on a CDN in basically no time. (In other situations, it may not be so simple to move your site assets over to a CDN.)

However, here’s a downside to CDNs: they can get pricey. Especially if you are using a lot of bandwidth.

But for larger sites, with lots of visitors coming from all around the world, a CDN is basically a necessity. And all “big” sites use one without a doubt.

However, if you’re just starting a blog, or built a mini-app, a CDN is not necessary. (Heck, I don’t even use one for my site…yet.)

Here’s what you can do next

You’ve just read my nine tips for speeding up your website. Now it’s time to put these tips into action. Here’s how you can easily get started in just 5 minutes:

  1. If using a WordPress site, delete unused plugins and themes
  2. If using any site, remove any unnecessary external scripts (i.e. Facebook like box, SumoMe, Hello Bar, Font Awesome, AB testing tools like Optimizely, etc.)

Since it’s likely that these will only make a small difference, set aside a time to go in deeper and see how much of the other advice you can apply to your own site.

If you’ve found this article helpful, make sure to share it on Twitter!

  • Israel Obiagba

    Thanks a bunch, I sure learnt tonnes of new stuff today.

  • With more users moving to faster broadband, websites should react faster to keep users happy and helps you to increase your online conversions. Now is the time to optimise your website for speed.

  • Prashant Gupta

    Very nice!! ;-)

  • Bea

    Cool post. I’ve been having trouble with my site as it is really taking too long to load each time you visit the home page. I’ve been wanting to apply some things I’ve learned from Andrew Wise‘s blog but I wanted to fix the page loading problem first. Luckily the caching fixed it. thank you!

    • Glad it helped!

      I will have to check out Andrew Wise’s stuff =)

      Good luck as you start your blog!

  • proxy dom

    your post is very interesting and very informative
    learned something new :)

  • RonRuss

    Thx for a nice post! :-) I also learnt a lot about improving performance by using HTTP/2 and new solutions like Caddy and ShimmerCat. HTTP/2and related solutions might be something for a future article perhaps?

  • It’s always frustrating to visit a slow loading web page. Site speed is essential. Thanks for this great article! I find that it is the number one factor causing bounce rate. Most people don’t have the patience to wait more than a few seconds for your site to load. My website is very slow at 3.3s loading time, so I want to figure out how to implement your recommendations to get it faster. I don’t want visitors leaving my site because it is too slow.

    I have CDN running on my sites, and they prefer themselves as they calculated security and speed. Many security features and content optimization features they provide for free if valued it will cost thousands. Also, I just want to suggest using the DNS services also. They will improve to reduce the DNS lookup quicker than your own hosting.

    Furthermore, I especially just go for overall speed shown by the Google Webmaster Tools panel. The faster my speed, the better my rankings in search ranking.

    I’m currently struggling on increasing my site speed on a new site, and you guide very effective! What I think is most useful is the every segment of your guidelines tells what exactly needs to be done. A magnificent information on making things faster for your web. Your recommendation will be very helpful on my website. Thank you for sharing!

  • NPM Heating and Cooling

    Thank you for the tips. I did everyone one except 9 and 6. it seems to be loading faster. I have over 800 revisions that were removed.

  • NPM Heating and Cooling

    How much of a difference does upgrading my server make. Is it worth it? I found out that i have the lowest grade server available through godaddy. Any tips on a good option to go to?

  • ravi kumar

    You blog is really very good. your post is informative and i will be following you regularly.
    for the basic knowledge on digital marketing visit this website http://digitalfloats.com/courses/seo-training-course-in-hyderabad-ameerpet/

  • Actually I am facing this issue, my site is loading slow from few days. Its time to optimization my website speed, and I found my solution here. thanks a lot.

  • Through enabling Gzip and Cache,image optimization we can achieve above 80 score.

  • All points that you have mentioned is valid. It helps to make the website fast. Thanks for sharing!

  • Danielle Yu

    Thanks Laurence – this is super helpful! I am currently working on a website expecting lots of traffic and have been trying to figure out which is the best CDN for me- do you have any thoughts on this? In addition to the ones you mention I’m also looking at Fastly and Akamai and noticed you didn’t have them up there. Any reason for this?

  • Raj Kumar

    Amazing effort. Good information of speeding up your website. Nice tips loved it.I can suggest a blog on page speed optimization I recently found it’s a good one http://growthpixel.com/top-tips-page-speed-optimization/

  • Great article! Thanks for sharing. Often we forget in the busy aspect of the average day to review the speed aspect of our site. Love that you shared so many great resources in one place. We’ll be testing our website this week to ensure we’re doing what we need to ! Thanks again.

  • Really ! Brilliant idea in your article. some very easy steps like browser caching, CSS optimize, image optimize to improve website loading speed, but people don’t pay attention to these things. whereas these steps are very important. specially you entered website speed checker tools, that is very good but google speed checker give accurate results. Thanks for sharing and keep writing. https://goo.gl/XftVXh

  • Pooja Kushwah

    Nice article… I was surfing around to get some solid stuff regarding website slow sown issue. Your article provided detailed explanation for the same and given me some tools also which I can use in future. Thank you for sharing this article.

    • Awesome, Pooja! Glad you found the article helpful =) Good luck as you keep learning.

      – Laurence

  • Images on your blog perform an important role, those posts with images get more social media shares than the posts without an image. You should NOT host images on 3rd party websites. When you are hosting images on your own hosting server, you are safe from the higher risks. More importantly, you own the images, and you get to reap the SEO benefits of having images.

    I used to think about hosting my images on different 3rd party sites too but later I feel not secure. I load all my images on my blog, whatever will give you traffic is not advice-able to be on 3rd party. Using image compression strategy is the best tips to me. But I still suggest you host images on your server. To offload the loading & reduce the bandwidth, you can use a CDN service. Anyways, thanks for the extra information it makes it think again about site loading and affecting images for image SEO.

    • Interesting! This definitely makes sense as far images helping with SEO. I will keep this in mind in the future :)

  • sir my wp-admin load time very slow http://bbcmetro.com/

  • MelyD.artist

    I think I’ve made my website a little faster using the plugins described. This was very helpful and well explained. Thank you so much!!

  • mahender prasad

    This is a very well written post, my compliments. I’m glad to find your post. Keep sharing this type of stuff.
    assignment Help Melbourne

  • this is a very nice guide, but at the end the easiest way to speed up the website, is to make sprites for certain images, and use CLOUDFLARE all life long, if you have some wordpress blog also on the side combine W3 with cloudflare will do a lot ! but in W3 you need to check the right options otherwise it gets even worse combined with cloudflare, like let cloudflare minify and redirect not w3 and etc.. etc …

  • Due to its simplicity to use features and a large library of easily available plugins, even a new or zero knowledge tech person like me can build the professional websites by using the WordPress. And following some new updates in Google’s ranking algorithm, site loading speed has become even more necessary for a ranking website.

    Thank you so much for sharing an excellent article about “Faster Loading WordPress Plugins”. These are the plugins which I feel everybody need to be used in their blogging life. Now as you explain superbly the use of plugins to us, I am going the practice those to my blog. Also, with my experience, I could highly suggest you to configure Cloudflare for your website. It’s free, easy to install & it offers free CDN & makes your blog fast and secure.

    One quick question; using too many plugins make the blog or website to load slowly. What do you say? Thanks in advance.


  • Very well written! Thanks for your valuable thoughts on this great topic.