The Step by Step Guide on How To Speed Up Your WordPress Website For Non Techy People!

Here’s my #1 problem: I’m impatient. I want everything I decided I need yesterday. I don’t want to wait, I don’t want to talk to anyone, I just want it right now. I recently bought a brand new iMac and the 2 week long delivery wait was excruciating.

Here’s the kicker, I’m not alone.

It seems that people like us​ and possibly the rest of humanity has some form of ADHD and unless we get what we want right now, we jump to the next thing. That’s why our websites HAVE to be fast and beautiful. Because otherwise, your visitors are going to jump in a new tab and go to your competitor.

A Few reasons why you'd want to work on your site speed:

  • Higher page speed is highly correlated with cart abandonment and bounce rate
  • Page speed is a Google ranking factor. Faster = More traffic
  • Faster sites bring better user experience.

The issue is that most of the time when people talk about site speed, I get lost. They talk about apache optimisation or server config files and to be honest, as a non engineer, I’ve always felt this was beyond me and I could never get a fast website unless I dropped thousands of dollars for someone else to do it for me.

​This was annoying because site speed is important both for search engine traffic and conversion rate optimisation. But I dug in and decided this had to be figured out. To be honest, I even broke Health Ambition a few times in the process by messing around with the DNS but I finally made it.

Website speed test

Our home page now loads under 1 second instead of 4. That’s a huge improvement and our analytics testifies as you will see bellow.

This guide is not the perfect guide to page speed optimisation. This is a guide to page speed optimisation you can actually d​o yourself without spending a lot of money, and that gets you significant results. The 80/20 of page speed optimisation for those who run in fear when they get asked to edit a javascript or php function.

Before you start commenting I’d also like to say this very site has not received this treatment yet and could do with loading a little faster. It’s on my todo list, retain the hate in the comments :).​

What you will learn

  • Why page speed is important if you're serious about making money online
  • The real life results of the tactics discussed in this post
  • The detailed step by step follow instruction on how I did it.
  • The extras you can do for even faster sites

The Benchmark & Results of This Guide

How is this guide different than most of the guides you’ll find online? Well, the fact is that I’ve actually executed all the things I’ll be talking about on our website Health Ambition.

In order to test the speed of the website I’ve used 2 free tools you can use to check the speed of your website along with some improvement recommendations: Google page speed insight and Pingdom.​


PageSpeed Insights

So we’ve been very negligent of our site speed however the before results are not that bad. That’s partially due to Performag, the theme that was developed specially for us by the guys over at thrive themes. Before we switched to their theme, the site was performing in the mid 50’s but I didn’t take a screenshot then.


PageSpeed Insights

After working on the site for 5 hours, here is the result I managed to achieve. It’s not perfect and I didn’t break in the 90’s for the Google tool but according to Pingdom, the site loads in under 1 second and is faster than 90% of all tested websites.

Moreover, this is our analytics progression since we’ve made the changes. As you can see, everything is green and 8.35% page view growth for us means an extra 20,000 in just under a month. Plus, the bounce rate is slightly better and so is the exit rate and time on page.​

Pages Google Analytics Health Ambition

Now let me show you how exactly I achieved that and how you can do the same.​

The Step By Step Plan

​Step 1 – I swapped for a speed optimised theme

Work Required

What this tweak does: It gives you a wordpress theme that’s already page speed optimised out of the box

Why do it: Your theme is essentially a layer of WordPress that renders a large part of your content. It is also the code sent to the browser of your visitors. If it is poorly optimised, your pages will be heavier and slower.

Cost: $49 one off.

Alternative: Pick any available theme and pay a page speed expert to optimise your theme (several hundred dollars)

Nothing gets me more excited than going over on Theme Forest and browse theme to instantly get dozen of website ideas. However there’s a problem. Most themes on most marketplaces are built to look good and have fancy effects.


Because it makes them sell more.​ People rarely think of performance when they pick a theme because design and looks are so much more vivid and appealing to their emotional side at the time.

That’s the mistake we did when starting Health Ambition even though the theme was not that fancy, it was not built for speed.​ The site was double loading a lot of unused and duplicate javascript library, the CSS and HTML were not compressed or optimised and as a result, the site was sloooooow.

​At the time I decided the site needed a redesign, the guys over at Thrive Themes reached out to me and offered to build the best authority site WordPress theme on the market for me (Performag). And one of the main criteria for it was page speed.

This was achieved using the following methods:

  • All the HTML / CSS / javascript is compressed and minified out of the box
  • No unnecessary fancy effects, just simplicity and speed
  • Reducing the number of plug ins needed by building in ad systems, sharing systems etc.
  • Reduce the number of elements loaded on mobile

I lost the screenshot but our page speed was initially at 55 and bumped to 67 after switching themes.​ Not bad.

One good thing the guys over at Thrive Themes included is that they automatically compress your new images through, the best image optimisation service out there but I’ll talk about it later.

How do you get it done for your site?

  1. Go over on Thrive themes and pick a theme that matches what you want your site to look like.
  2. Once you purchased it, go in your WordPress Dashboard and click on Appearance > Themes > Add New.
  3. Click on upload theme and upload the theme file you downloaded from Thrive Themes.
  4. Activate the theme and enter your license code in the thrive option settings.
  5. Go in Appearance > Customise and edit the design of the theme to match your brand.
  6. Go over the main pages of your sites and make sure nothing broke with the new theme and manually fix them.

Step 2 – I upgraded our hosting

Work Required

What this tweak does:​ It recommends a hosting provider that has been better and faster for us than many others on the market.

Why do it: In reality this is more complicated to explain. In a nutshell your hosting is the computer that serves your files and it’s internet connection. Your hosting provider also affects the uptime of your site.

Cost: $24.95/month for up to 5 sites​

Alternative: Cheaper but slower shared hosting or more​ expensive less performant “WordPress Hosting”

I have to say, our hosting was not bad but it was not ideal either. We used to use Synthesis by Copyblogger. When I was running the page speed test, it kept returning the recommendation “improve server response time”. This basically means that our server was not great given the volume of traffic we were dealing with.

Add that to the fact that we were not able to run image optimisation services, it clearly was not worth the $150+ we were paying monthly.

Enter Traffic Planet Hosting​

WordPress Hosting Traffic Planet Hosting

After reading several blogger’s reviews, I decided to give a shot to Traffic Planet Hosting. The reason I went for them is because they actually rely on Amazon S3 in terms of server so that despite the fact that they’re a small company, they rely on one of the strongest server infrastructure in the world.

On top of that, they offer​ a top notch 24h service. I’m a bit of a night owl and even bugging them at 2am on the chat, they’ve always been able to help me. Not bad.

But the real advantage of Traffic Planet Hosting in the context of this post is that I managed to bump my page speed from 67 to 71 after switching to them. Not a ton but take into account the fact that I was already on a hosting considered premium and fast. If you’re on something like Bluehost, you will most likely see higher gains.

If you couple that with the fact that I literally saved $600/year in hosting costs and they did all the site transfers for me, this was an operation that was worth it and did help me get my page loading speed under 1 second.​

Their plans start at $24.99/month. It’s not the cheapest and if you’re just getting started I still recommend Bluehost because it’s good enough for a first site.

But as soon as you want to move to something more robust with real support and optimised for WordPress hosting, I now recommend Traffic Planet Hosting over WPEngine or any other​ both for their price and performance.

How do you get it done for your site?

  1. Go over on
  2. Select the plan you need for the amount of sites you manage (most of you should be fine with the cheapest plan)
  3. If you want them to transfer your sites from your previous host, submit a new ticket with your hosting and WordPress log in information, they’ll do the rest.

Note on site transfer: They transferred 9 sites of ours in 24 hours, it was all pretty good but some images got lost in the transfer. Make sure you make your own back up before changing hosting company.

Step 3 – I fixed our images

Work Required

What this tweak does: It allows you to shrink your images using various image optimisation algorithm directly from your WordPress dashboard without quality loss.

Why do it: Images are the heaviest part of most websites, shrinking images down makes your pages much smaller and faster.

Cost: from $9​

Alternative: Free less capable image compression tool​

In 90% of the cases, images are the biggest files to download in a web page. Actually, they are 70% of all bandwidth usage world wide. That’s why they are the one thing you can make significant page speed gains on.

See, there are different image compressing services that allow you to shrink your images, thus making your pages faster to load. The 2 main contenders are by Yahoo Yslow It and


They can both be installed as plugins on WordPress which is why I retained those two and basically run image through their API as you upload them. If you use a Thrive theme as recommended above, the Kraken subscription is included so you don’t need to worry about this step.

The difference between the two is that Kraken is largely superior however it is a paid service while Smush it is only half as good but free. Decide with your wallet what’s the best opportunity for you.​

The reason I subscribed to Kraken​ was to optimise our previously uploaded images as Thrive themes only optimises the newly uploaded images. For $9 of credit I was able to optimise our entire image library and reduce the size of images by up to 85%! That’s huge!

Media Library Health Ambition WordPress
Optimising our images with we managed to reduce their size by up to 80% on Autopilot with the WordPress Plugin.

The site felt significantly faster and lighter after we’ve done this change. It’s hard to give a benchmark as the speed gains vary from page to page but some of our pages went from several megabits to a few hundred kilobytes. Not bad for a $9 one off investment.

How do you get it done?

  1. Go over to and pick the $9 plan unless you have a huge image library
  2. Go over on and install the Kraken .io plugin and add your api key in the plugin settings
  3. Go in your media library, select everything and click on the “krak ’em all” button, select lossy and run the plugin
  4. Repeat the operation on every page of your website.

Step 4 – I setup caching properly on our domain

Work Required

What this tweak does: Because your CMS dynamically generates pages on every load, “caching” allows your website to not regenerate fixed content with every page load, speeding up the generation of the page.

Why do it: Because it’s free and it’s a one off task that permanently makes your website faster

Cost: Free

Alternatives​: Not using caching

I have to admit it, WordPress has changed my life. I’m not a coder and it gave me the tools to compete with web designers when it comes to creating websites. However, because of the way it works, it needs to compute a lot of data each time a page is loaded.

​Caching helps make this job easier by preventing your website from having to recompute the whole page and basically “save” the work that has already been done. In practice that means that things like your header, your sidebar, your footer etc that tend to be similar across pages don’t need to be downloaded over and over again.

W3 Total Cache

The recommended WordPress plugin to setup page and browser caching is W3 Total cache. It’s the most popular in this category and probably the most integrated one. It plugs in Yoast SEO, it plugs into most Content Delivery Networks.

​Beware though, if you set it up wrongly, this plugin can hurt your website and sometimes completely take it down.

How do you get it done?

  1. Go in the WordPress plugin search engine and search for W3 Total Cache
  2. Install and activate the plug in
  3. Go in Performance > General settings
  4. Activate Page Cache, Minify and Browser cache and click save

W3 Total cache is a tricky plugin and could break your site. 

Step 5 – ​Install Google page speed module

Note: It seems like Google just pulled that one away just as I published the post. However, you can install the same set of scripts on your own servers for free with the page speed module. Check it out here.

Work Required

What this tweak does: It uses Google’s own servers and algorithms to serve your website and further speed up the loading with things like above the fold loading priority, lazy loading of images etc.

Why do it: Because it’s free and if one of your motives for improving your page speed is search traffic, who better than Google to optimise it for you passively ?

Cost: Free (for now)

Alternatives​: Custom coding and site speed consulting

I consider myself pretty smart, but I’m sure Google’s Phds are probably smarter. The Google page speed service is (for now) a free service offered by Google that allows anyone with a website to leverage the infrastructure of Google to serve some of their resources.

Here are the main features that come with Google page speed:​

  • ​Serve important files from Google’s local data centers (acts as a CDN powered by Google’s network)
  • Rewrite and combines HTML, CSS and Javascript to reduce the number of server requests
  • Clean up your code to reduce it’s size
  • Optimises the load priority to load visible content first (perceived loading speed improvement).
  • Resize images to rendered size.

One thing that’s very interesting with this service is the “perceived” page speed boost. That means that they prioritize above the fold content to load first, thus making your site feel faster for the visitor (and is a boost for your SEO page speed core).

Another interesting feature is that the service is basically a free CDN and that it feels much better than the free version of Cloudflare. Usually, premium CDN services such as Max CDN start at $9/month. That’s a $108/year saving along with the optimisation of your code.

If you want to understand how the service works technically check out this video:​

How do you get it done?

I could have made a step by step guide but Google did it better than me :).


Here you have it. After doing a lot of online research, I’ve applied these 5 things to our website and managed to reach the top 10% of websites in terms of speed despite the fact that I started very low.

Do I understand the exact technical implication of each step? Of course not. I’m not an engineer and a lot of the suggested steps rely on advanced web technologies that even most engineers could not necessarily explain.​

But the proof is in the pudding: it works and it’s cost effective. If you were to apply everything you found in this guide, you’d be looking at a $58 one off cost along with a $24.99/month cost for hosting instead of a $7.99 for the cheapest hosting providers.

​That’s a tiny cost compared to the alternative: hiring a high end dev to do all of this for you for a lot of money.

I’d love to get your feedback in the comment section on this one and maybe learn the other tricks you guys have used to make your website faster!​

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  1. Old post but still pretty good. And by the way you can try Speed Demon plugin to help boost your scores in GTmetrix really easy, esp. using Inline Styles module.

  2. Hello Gael,
    Thanks for this very helpful and well structured article :)
    I have 2 questions:
    1. Why you did not choose the option of HTTP gzip in the caching options; because I heard it’s very helpful, and it can increase the speed of the website?
    2. I use WpxHosting (ex TrafficPlanetHosting) as you recommended in this article :)
    so my question is: how can I use in my website, should I contacted the support and they said that they do not have this module installed in the servers for now; so can I install it myself, and if so, how?

    And Thanks in advance!

    1. To be frank, that post needs a refresh but we’ll get to it soon. As for WPX I doubt they’re compatible with the page speed module but they may be running it on their own.

  3. This post on speed is very comprehensive and non-techy and gives a lot of food for thought. If I were in for the long haul, I guess I’ll want to get it right from the beginning:

    1) Choose a host with fast reliable, distributed servers servers, with minimal downtime.
    2) Choose a theme that already minified HTML, CSS, Javascript to start with.
    3)) Not sure how well it holds, but I’ve found a plugin called WPFastest Cache to be better than W3 Cache or WP Cache.
    4) Use a content delivery network (Google PageSpeed service retired in August 2015). Maybe start with Cloudflare?
    5) For every image/GIF produced, compress it (lossy) so that the file is as small as possible without noticeable differences. Optimizilla is great for that.

    Also, looks like we’ll have to take a look at Thrive Themes these days. Changing theme usually means redoing a lot of things from scratch, so this is one of the things that we prefer having to do only once.

  4. The download link for the screen shots with the WP Cache settings is no longer working. How can I get those?

  5. Here are 2 more things that you can do to speed up your site significantly:

    The “time on site” on my site went from 5 minutes to 6.5 after I implemented these 2 things…

    1) Lazy loading of images. I have a lot images on my site, so I benefit from this a lot. I recommend the wordpress plugin “a3 Lazy Load” for this.

    2) ONLY ON DEMAND loading of youtube videos – the way it works is you see an image with a play icon on it (looks just like a youtube vid except it’s really an image). Then only once you click play the youtube is video is actually loaded…

    Advantage: ~400kb less to load per video so it’s a big win.

    Disadvantage: A Slight delay when you press play, this is only a minor delay and insignificant IMO.

    For this I recommend the WP plugin “WP YouTube Lyte”.

  6. Gael,

    Awesome post… do you have any thing similar for website security and server security. I’ve been hacked so many times, I feel like swiss cheese… and its costs me a bomb…


    1. Hi Darren,

      Here are some good security WP plugins: Wordfence Security, Block Bad Queries, Limit Login Attempt. If you must choose only one, go for Wordfence. ;)

      Don’t forget to keep your WP sites up to date, and as soon as possible. Wordfence will send you an email every time a plugin needs to be updated, so you can know about it in real time (or almost). If you have to manage multiple sites and want to do it from one location, here is a great service: (free up to 5 sites)

      Hope this helps ;)

  7. Ok thanks, saves me from having to try it myself. CloudFlare and W3 cache are working well now. Those screenshots really helped me set up something I don’t have a clue about with condidence :)

    P.S. i notice now I have to re-enter my name and email when commenting here now, maybe an idea to set a cookie for users to save that info so they don’t have to re-enter their info for every new comment?

    1. I did and while it pushed speed a bit more it also created a bunch of glitches and made the site feel clunky so I took it off. I want fast sites but not at the cost of user experience.

  8. Hi mate,

    Have you tried Speed Booster Pack with W3 Cache and Amazon CDN ? This trio got my website from 57 to 94. Found the first one on a forum and it’s amazing :)

    Take care,

    1. Hey Jay,

      I’m actually going to move the site to Google’s server with the page speed service, I agree the site isn’t the fastest ATM but I don’t want to change the DNS during the contest. Sorry for the speed.

  9. I installed W3 Total Cache, but for some reason when I enable browser cache it won’t show new posts on the home page. When I disabled browser cache it worked fine. Am I missing something?

  10. Hi, Gael! Thanks for great post. You added me some work:).

    I remember you advised to use too. What’s the difference?
    What’s the better?

    In Thrive Content Builder I have an option to insert a picture and resize it. Does this feature make my picture look smaller/bigger only but not really resize it? Or I’d use the full size image when inserting it?


  11. Hi Gael,
    Can I ask you a question about a different topic? It’s not so relevant, but given this is the latest post, I’ll drop it here.

    I’ve started an authority site in the fitness niche 2 months ago. My SEO is almost none so far and the competition is ridiculous.Ok, bUt anyway, I thought I should be getting some organic traffic from long tail, but I don’t see anything. I have 40 articles with 1000 words each, really good quality content. I can see some rankings in the 10th page for some keywords. I understand sandbox, but I’m worried that I’m getting ZERO google traffic, even for long long tails, even because the long tail is my target in this competitive niche. I’ve found out later that my domain was registered in the past, but I don’t see a problem there, because don’t hav eany links pointing to it and Google indexes very fast.

    any thoughs on SANDBOX for long tail?

    1. Mike, usually getting 3-4 HQ links to the site through guest posting / skyscraper method etc really helps to get started. You don’t need many but a few links go a long way for long tail.


  12. Hi Gael,

    I disagree. Its more than a nice feature – its a must (especially for a money making site.) The visual stuff – how a page or post looks – is not a problem.
    What happens when you install or update a plugin and everything goes wrong? I always test everything on the staging site. I can tell you it saved my site on more than one occasion, because installing the plugin on the staging site destroyed it (and disabling and deleting the plugin does not always clean up the mess). Better the staging site than the live one. (I am using Wpengine and its literally a one button click and 2 minutes to copy the live site to the staging site).

    Any ideas on how to solve that without a staging site? Any insight would be appreciated :-)

    1. Yeah I agree, it’s nice to have. TBH There are advanced technical ways to have one site be a clone of another and just work on a sub domain and push it to live with 1 click and I’ll probably put together a tutorial for that at some point. If you want an easy one (but not as good) I recommend checking out Backup Buddy ( It basically allows you to make a 1 click backup of your site and 1 click restore so if something goes wrong, provided you can still access your WP-Admin, you can get back to where you were minutes ago in just 1 click. And it’s a one off cost so it saves you a lot of money over time compared to WPEngine.


  13. Hi,

    Thanks for sharing your experience :)

    I have one problem with Traffic Planet – they don’t have a staging site like Wpengine (I’m currently using them). That is a big problem because its the feature I use the most (and its very quick- just a push of a button and within minutes I have a staging clone of my current site). Every time I want to make a change I do it on the staging site. I cannot imagine how you could do without one.

    What do you do to test changes?

    1. Hey Haim,

      Yeah I agree, this is a nice feature, but if you mix the real time of thrive content builder for visual changes and the preview function of WordPress, it’s not so bad to live without. It’s easier than I thought anyway. Otherwise Siteground offers the same function and is slightly faster but I’ve had uptime issues with them.

  14. Very helpful Gael…I’ve read that Google does put emphasis on how much traffic they send to the faster sites. I just signed up with Thrive, and got the Performag theme and access to the plugins. I’m another that had just spent a bunch of money on another theme…$%^&*&^^. Another little trick to consider is, that it would probably be better to keep your images as .jpeg’s rather than .psd, because the .jpg’s are smaller, therefore more likely to load faster. You can do this as long as the resolution is still there.


    1. Hey Mike,

      Thanks for the tip, I think you meant PNG.Yeah, I save all my images in JPEG high quality then compress them using Kraken, it looks decent and it’s tiny :).

  15. Hi Gael,
    Are you able to use the $24.95 plan for Health Ambition on Planet Traffic? I notice that plan only offers 10GB of disk space a month. My largest site already uses about 15GB a month. Right now I’m using a reseller account with Hostgator and it’s pretty slow. So I need to switch to something more robust soon.

    1. Hey Cathy,

      That’s why you want to be compressing your images and resize them, they’re usually what eats up the space on your hosting account. Health Ambition is actually only around 2GB after optimisation including all the images. I suggest you first run kraken on all your images and you should be fine with 10GB even if the site is quite large.


  16. I think there is no way that a local business or a e-store will skip a theme if its the “Right One for Them” (like touches the heart) and has speed issue. I build my 1st site on a theme which I fell in love “” and noticed after 3 months that the theme author has clearly said that normal sites on my theme takes 5-7 secs :(

    I was planning to buy a CDN as site speed is crucial for me as 60% of my traffic is paid but I will definitely have a look at the last point on Google page speed module. Plus if I am not wrong I should delete W3 Cache plugins when I have activated Google page speed module or let it be there?

    1. Hey Jatin,

      I know, people are usually focusing on the wrong things when picking themes as essentially changing CSS is much easier than changing the way the theme operates. Anyway you can keep your caching plugin, they do 2 different things.


    1. Nope, but that’s the best non techie way. There’s ways to improve your database responsiveness, tweak your hosting settings etc to have your site go faster but the consequences can be dramatic if you don’t know what you’re doing.

      I’d rather spend an extra $16/month, have it done for me and focus on making money rather than deal with it but that’s just me.

  17. I am a long time lurker but I wanted to reach out and say You guys are such an inspiration!!! It’s awesome to see two people who are successful yet are still striving to grow, learn more and change things up! plus can you please refer me to anyone or(do you guys offer such) that can help me customise thrive theme (perfomag) for my new site(nothing fancy here just like healthambition).. Thanks for all the good information!

  18. Ahhh sorry. I was just reading the article again and I missed the part the first time where you say that. I definitely do not think this site is slow though. I wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t put it into pingdom and page insights myself :)

  19. Thank you so much, exactly what I need at the moment after I bought a dud theme for a new site which is ridiculously slow. I was actually choosing a theme from Thrive themes and realised I was looking at the one on this site! Your stats aren’t as good for this site though. Have you not done the same things here as you have for Health Ambition?
    By the way, thanks for this whole site and the authority SEO course. I have found it all so useful.

    1. Hey Sharon,

      Yeah, Authority Hacker has not received this treatment yet, that’s why it’s quite slow, plus there’s some ridiculously big images I didn’t resize. Obviously I’ll have to get on it soon :).

  20. Hi Gael

    Thanks for this great guide. I love the AuthorityHacker approach to step-by-step actionable information.

    However, I just ran PageSpeedInsights for ‘Health Ambition’ and Google still suggests ‘reducing server reponse time’. It says the Health Ambition server responded in 0.28 seconds. That’s the same result as my shared hosting which only costs $3 per month (for unlimited sites)!! For $24.95 (and a limit of 5 sites), I think I’d want a bigger margin of improvement!

    Nevertheless I think the information presented is top-notch. Merci beaucoup

    1. Hey Jeff, thanks for dropping by. Good one, I guess it still triggers from time to time but I also guess it can depend on the current server load and I’m suspecting my DNS to slow things down (godaddy). I’ll probably switch to Google’s public DNS and report on the changes. Anyway, I’ve found trafficplanet hosting “feels” faster too but that could be confirmation bias. They also offer great support and stuff like daily backup etc but if you’re not making money yet, a $3/month hosting can do for sure :).

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