From hosting my first website on a popular shared hosting through winning 1st place in a worldwide WordPress Performance Contest in 2019 to launching the most comprehensive course on “How to improve page speed”. This is my journey in the web-page speed optimization niche.
About Me and How I Got into This Niche
My name is Shay Toder, and I’m a Website Speed Optimization Expert.
Since 2006 I have been a SQL DBA (Database Administrator), and the thing I love most is taking a process that typically requires 30 hours and improving it to 3 minutes, or taking a 60-second query and improving it to 0.1 seconds.
So, when I wanted to start an online business, it was only natural for me to merge my passion for improving website performance and processes, and about two years ago, I launched my blog in this niche.
My Poor Experience With Previous Hosting Companies
At that time, I already had a website hosted with a company recommended by many eager affiliates.
From the get-go, this notorious hosting was noticeably slow!
I kept searching for better hosting and kept reading reviews. Then I decided to move my site to another recommended hosting provider by the WordPress official, but I wasn’t pleased with two things: first, the speed was still not adequate for me, and second—their staging server didn’t support gzip compression. These turned out to be a disadvantage for me because I wanted to do speed tests on that server, and it distorted my testing results.
My First Hosting Comparison
I decided to stop listening to reviews and affiliates and conduct my own comparison of different hosting choices. So I investigated a little and narrowed my options down to two hosting companies.
Both seemed to be good choices, but I didn’t want to take anyone’s word on it and opened accounts with both of them.
In my comparison, though, I added the other popular hosting providers as well (since I already had accounts with them). Then I installed the same site on all my hosting contenders with the same configuration simultaneously to obtain true and accurate results.
I measured Time To First Byte (TTFB), First contentful paint (FCP) time, Fully Loaded Time and errors. In order to gain multiple points of comparison, I ran the test a few times on desktop & mobile and at different hours.
I also used 7 different performance testing tools: GTmetrix, Pingdom, Google Page Speed Insights, WebPageTest, Bitcatcha, Local Chrome, and Dotcom-Monitor.
The result surprised me: Cloudways won the test by a huge margin and left the others in the dust. Before the test, I was certain that the other would win the comparison, so you imagine why I was surprised when it didn’t. Nevertheless, the results were mind-blowing for me and I knew what I had to do now.
You can read more about the comparison tests I performed to find the Fastest Web Hosting company if you want more details.
As you may have guessed, I officially moved my site to Cloudways, and I couldn’t be happier with my choice.
Since then, I have done many more speed comparisons, and Cloudways keeps winning them every single time.
Winning the WordPress Performance Contest 2019
One clear spring day as I am working on speeding up sites for clients and messaging with a colleague, he mentioned a page speed optimization contest.
My eyes went wide; competition? On my favorite niche? SIGN ME UP!
I signed up for the contest immediately (not everyone was allowed to compete!).
After waiting patiently for a month, dreaming, expecting, and hoping… I got the message that I was chosen to be one of many participants!
I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, though. The hand-selected competitors would get the same copy of a slow WooCommerce store on a WordPress site, and we all got 5 days to run and optimize our websites.
The day of the competition arrived and I did NOTHING but focus on the contest: I didn’t do dishes, I took time off from getting new clients, and I didn’t even take the dog on a walk (actually, I didn’t have a dog at that time, but you get the idea).
There were a few conditions of the contest and we couldn’t do just anything to speed up the site: we couldn’t change the theme’s files; we couldn’t remove existing plugins; we had no access to server settings.
While others scrambled and rushed to tackle the site, I began by following my blueprint on how to optimize a site’s speed, like I do every day, on every site I improve.
I made the improvements based on my experience and sent the following results:
- 0.7 seconds Fully Loaded Time in GTmetrix
- 0.34 seconds Load Time in Pingdom
- 0.3 seconds FCP in Google Page Speed Insights desktop
You can read more about the contest, the rules, my results, and the improvements I made.
For a while, life went back to normal (I even started doing the dishes again, much to my wife’s delight!). After some time, I got the email that I had been waiting for:
You’ve Won the WordPress Performance Contest 2019
“Among the huge number of contestants, your WordPress performance optimization skills were the best, and you’ve secured 1st place.”
I was in heaven!
My Course on “How to Improve Page Speed”:
Winning the contest gave me a boost of confidence in my skills. I continued improving page speed for clients, as I continue to do today, and I also began gathering materials for my gem: the most comprehensive course on “How to improve page speed.”
In the course, I help others by sharing my knowledge and making it easier for other performance enthusiasts and page builders so we can all enjoy speedy websites. I have given away unique knowledge with all my secrets and tricks that helped me win the contest. For example, you’ll learn how to significantly improve the performance of the site by reducing TTFB and improving Font Awesome, Facebook pixel, Recaptcha, YouTube videos, Google Maps, Contact Form 7, Chat plugins, WooCommerce and many other topics.
I also give personal assistance in which I show you what to check and where, and I give recommendations and solutions, resulting in users learning new skills, and me walking you through the process so you know what to do.
On my private Facebook group, I’m taking constant questions and answers for my members. And regarding the blueprint I used in the contest, well, I give it away for free as a bonus to the members.
Check out my course on How to improve page speed.
So yes, I’ve learned a lot about optimizing websites throughout my career, but one thing is certain: no matter how good you are, your website can only be as fast as your hosting allows it to be.
For me, Cloudways has proven to be the ultimate Cloud hosting solution, and if you haven’t tried running your website on a Cloudways backed server yet, you haven’t really enjoyed a truly optimized website!
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Mustaasam is the WordPress Community Manager at Cloudways. Where he actively works and loves sharing his knowledge with the WordPress Community. When he is not working, you can find him playing squash with his friends, or defending in Football, and listening to music.