I have always focused on the fun stuff here – and that’s been writing and photographing food. Five years on, I have hardly any knowledge of web design, but a recent blog post from Feast really got my attention. Titled ‘Why you should (and shouldn’t) speed up your WordPress food blog’ it said that 40% of people will abandon a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load. Ouch. Three seconds seems like hardly any time, but we’re an impatient bunch these days.
Armed with this information, I set out on a (very long, rather boring) mission to improve my page load times. I had long been dissatisfied with my hosting provider, Hostgator for their patchy service and poor customer support. I finally decided to pull the plug when I realised that there was no way for customers to check their server uptimes i.e. if servers were always working. I’m jotting down my findings here so that you can get straight to the point, and not waste the
days weeks it has taken me to get all this done. For the large part, the actual work it took to move the blog was less than a day – I’m just a compulsive researcher so I wanted to do it once and do it properly so that I wouldn’t have to again.
A quick summary
Before we get into it, let me show you the load times of this site before (on HostGator) vs now (on SiteGround). I’ve been able to drop the load time a bit more, but I just wanted to show you the difference from just moving hosting providers – with no technical know how how whatsoever.
The best part is that moving to SiteGround actually saved me money – I was paying AU$14.77 (US$10.95) a month on HostGator and am now paying AU$8 (US$5.95) on SiteGround. This is because pretty much all hosting companies charge you a reduced fee to entice you sign up, then increase the fee after the promotional term ends. It can be a good deal, but the catch is that you’re stuck for the whole term you’ve signed up for – so if you don’t like your host, tough luck. I did a lot of research before moving to SiteGround, and I made sure to sign up for three years.
For a newcomer to both, HostGator is cheaper, but as you can see from the screenshots above, slower. Here are the links to compare HostGator and SiteGround plans. I advise you to take HostGator’s promo with a grain of salt though as they are part of the EIG group, and there’s a lot of dissatisfaction with their hosting services.
Note: if you happen to purchase a hosting plan using my affiliate links, I would really appreciate it. You support helps me continue to focus on writing the fun recipe and lifestyle stuff.
I Googled, read reviews, joined Facebook groups, checked social media. (click photos to be taken to Facebook group – you may need to request to join some groups)
There’s a couple of other little speed technology features as well, which I don’t really understand (because I’m a food blogger and not a tech blogger) but what I really wanted was access to SiteGround’s SuperCacher.
With SuperCacher, I’ve managed to get my blog to load in under the recommended 3 seconds – there’s an easy tutorial to follow once you’re all set up.
Step by Step
It only took a few hours for the techs to move my site over to SiteGround’s servers. I opted for the mid-tier GrowBig plan because I wanted the option to host multiple website, plus it included a free site migration and access to SuperCacher.
Fortunately SiteGround has recently added a free WordPress migrator tool for all users, so even if you opt for the cheapest plan you’ll have an easy way to migrate your blog.
Before you do all this though, it’s nice to run a speed test, just so you can compare your old load times with your new ones. Based on my research, I’m reasonably confident that SiteGround will speed up your load times. Take a screenshot and save it for reference.
Choose your hosting plan here
2. Type in your website name
3. Fill in your details and complete
Make sure you increase your period to 24 or 36 months if you want to take advantage of the the promotional pricing for longer. After you click Pay Now, you’ll be asked for your old hosting provider login details so that SiteGround’s technical team can migrate your site over for you.
4. Watch your inbox
You’ll receive an email letting you know that the SiteGround team are working on your website transfer.
Within a few hours, you’ll receive a second email updating your support ticket, which should say that your website has now been transferred.
A bit of information here. After your website is moved you can
a) preview it to make sure everything is okay. This is not strictly necessary. It is good practice but I skipped it because my blog isn’t that complicated.
b) when you update your DNS your website will be actually moved to SiteGround’s servers. To do this, you need to log in to your domain name registrar and update your DNS to the code that’s been provided to you. It should look something like this. You’ll need to copy and paste the DNS codes that were sent to you.
It is a good idea to do this part in the evening, or at a time when you think there will be less traffic to your website. The change can take 24 hours to come through, meaning your website might not be accessible for up to 24 hours – it is rarely this long though and usually only takes a a couple of hours.
That’s it – you’re done! Run a speed test and be happy that that’s all done so you can get back to the fun stuff.
Some extras you might want to activate (free)
It’s also worth taking a look at the SuperCacher tutorial to speed up your website just that little bit more. If you have any problems with this, SiteGround’s live chat help got me sorted in under minutes.
I can’t recommend CloudFlare enough. CloudFlare is a content delivery network (CDN) that allows your website to be served from the closest location to your visitors, reducing load time. The free service is what I use. The tutorial for CloudFlare is here.