Page load times have long played a critical role in search engine rankings. What once was commonly aired by corporate employees was acknowledged on the Google WebMaster Blog in April, 2010, by two Google employees, Amit Singhal and Matt Cutts. Then they had said,” You may have heard that here at Google we’re obsessed with speed, in our products and on the web. As part of that effort, today we’re including a new signal in our search ranking algorithms: site speed. Site speed reflects how quickly a website responds to web requests.”

If your Website has to be successful, then its load speed should be taken into account for it remains one of the most important metrics for the success of a Website. Most people remain ignorant of this aspect and what more, even as the detail and underlying complexity continues to evolve for most Websites and Web Applications, site speed continues, in most cases, to be set aside by them.

Technical aspects further do not help, for page load speeds can be difficult to reliably measure, as a lot of different factors are in play.

Now if you do a quick search on how to improve page load times, heavy technical jargon will appear on the screen, like Minify CSS? OR Enable keep-alive? OR Is it even possible to improve your page load times without a degree in computer science?

For all of these, the answer is of course, ‘YES’. To put it more clearly, it’s possible for you to implement changes that will dramatically improve your Website’s page load times, even if you are not a total technical person.


One of the most widely tools for improving page load times is GTMetrix.

A web application tool, GTMetrix offers a suite of tools to help you analyze and optimize your Website. With a whole lot of free version also come some basic features unlocked. However, tiered paid plans are available for power users who have multiple Websites and could benefit from faster analysis, more targeting options, additional API access, hourly URL monitoring, and white-label PDF reports.

With GTMetrix, users can view

  • Summary of their Website’s performance down to the individual page level.
  • Page load times, page sizes, and total number of user requests.
  • Performance comparison to the average load speed of other Sites.
  • Slew of informative graphs and charts for a visual analysis.

Before going ahead with fixing a problem, it’s important to understand if your Website is actually slow or not. There are two good ways to test your Website’s page speed and both are recommended for they provide results that are slightly different from one another.


Under this option, to test the current page speed, you need to go by the following guidelines:

  • Log into and navigate to the profile of the site you’d like to analyze. In case, you have not used Webmaster Tools before, you’ll need to create a new profile for your site before going forward.
  • Once inside the site’s profile, click on “LABS” on the left side navigation bar, then click on “SITE PERFORMANCE.”
  • On clicking ‘SITE PERFORMANCE’, you will get to see the data which will give you a brief overview of your site’s current speed and how it compares to other sites.
  • In case you look for more details, then just download the “PAGE SPEED” add-on for Firefox (if you don’t already have Firebug installed, you’ll need that program as well).
  • On installation of the add-ons, navigate to the page you want to analyze, open Firebug and then click on “Analyze Performance” under the “PAGE SPEED” tab.


  • On clicking the ‘PAGE SPEED’ tab, the Page Speed add-on will analyze the current site and then later will display a list of recommendations:
  • Items with Red Circles represent items that should be fixed immediately (clicking on the arrow next to the text description will produce more detail about the performance issue).
  • Items with a Yellow Triangle are things that could be improved, but likely won’t provide as much benefit as improving the first set of items. Green check marks mean you’re good to go!


Accurately measuring a Website’s loading speed is not possible for there are a number of factors that are involved which have a bearing on the website’s page loading speed:

  • Current server load (especially if shared);
  • Number of current visitors;
  • The user’s connection speed;
  • The user’s proximity to your server; & more.

To acquire more reliable and accurate load speed data, you need to do multiple speed tests and that too at different times of the day or week or even month. But ideally, it should be about one test per hour for a week or two for this will help you get a significantly more accurate average page load speed for your Website.

If you have a paid account, the GTMetrix panel will allow you to view a history tab. This feature collects the results from all of your multiple tests and plots them out on a graph. It’s a great way to get a quick visual look of when your Website was performing at its best OR how you’ve improved load speeds over time. You’ll also have access to a video section, which displays an actual video of your page loading.


Physical proximity to a server has a statistically relevant impact on loading speeds. This is why GTMetrix conducts speed tests from different locations.

You have the option to choose whether to test locally or globally – or both.

Local speed test results may be more relevant to you if your Website is servicing a specific area (For instance, as a small business might), state, or country. Conversely, you may wish to discover the global average page load speed of your website, in which case it would be reasonable to select at one or two servers from each continent.

Finally, know that the Speed Test will determine the page load speed relative to your server’s location and not your physical location.


Google “Page Speed Service” will allow you to test current page speed. For that you need to navigate to, enter your site’s URL and click “START TEST”. The test may take a few minutes to complete.

Once it’s done, you should see something like this:

Google Page Speed provides a score ranging from 0 to 100, with a score of 85 or higher stated to be a sign that the Website is performing well. Page loading above-the-fold (the first visible portion of a page) and for a full page load are measured.


Running speed tests with a tool like Google PageSpeed Insights will help you gauge your Website’s performance.

There are a lot of people who naturally would like to achieve 100/100 score on Google PageSpeed Insights. Some of them want to do it so as to speed up their Website while others will be compelled to do so by the client demanding that they meet this metric.

It is important to note that in striving for a 100/100 score, it should not be thought off solely from a metrics point of view. The very purpose of Google PageSpeed Insights is to serve as a guideline on best web performance practices AND provide recommendations to optimize your site. By following them, hopefully you can achieve a faster Website page-load speed.

Google PageSpeed Insights has recently launched a new Website speed test tool on “Think With Google”, which offers a nice feature that allows you to generate Beautiful Reports.


YSlow is Yahoo!’s open source tool which can analyze a page and attempt to offer an explanation as to why it’s loading slowly.

The USP of Yahoo’s YSlow is that it offers

  • Numerical score as well as a checklist of suggestions.
  • Spits out a summary of the components that make the page and current performance statistics.


Both Google PageSpeed and YSlow provide the same kind of data, but do so through different methodologies. That is where the benefit lies for by using both services, you get an additional perspective on how to increase in future the loading speed of your Website.

GTMetrix makes this easy to view by providing you with the results of both tests in one convenient location.

Though both Google PageSpeed & Yahoo YSlow offer a 0 to 100 percentage score, it should be taken as the primary metric to increase page load speed. This is because a score might be lower than 85 (or 75, or 70) even for a well-optimized page. So it’s better to avoid too much focus on scores, rather they can be used as a general guideline which are a part of a greater page-load speed process.

Your actual focus should instead be on the actual number of seconds taken to load the page.


The “WATERFALL” tool within the GTMetrix panel is a very useful tool for figuring out exactly why a page is loading slowly. In case you’re familiar with Firebug Net Panel, this tool will look familiar. The results are fairly easy to interpret and let you know as to why a page isn’t loading as quickly as it should.

The waterfall tool:

  • Analyses each component on a page; &
  • Displays the steps necessary for those pages to get from the server to the user, and how each individual step should look like and be implemented.

Further, you’ll have six metrics to gauge:

  • The DNS lookup;
  • The time spent making a connection;
  • How long the browser queue waited for a connection;
  • How long a fetch request for the page took;
  • The time taken until the server responded with data (in tech-speak known as the TTFB, or the time to first byte); &
  • How long it takes to actually download and view the page.

In addition, the waterfall tool captures each individual step, which will allow you to narrow down the ones that are causing a bottleneck. For example, if the TTFB is quite high, this could indicate that the problem is server-side. If the time it takes to download and view the page is high, this could mean that the page needs to be optimized further (e.g., with image compression).


In GTMetrix, WordPress users will find a worthy ally that makes things easy and simple, like for instance:

  • Allowing you to download fully-fledged plug-in for Content Management.
  • Making setup of Content Management a simple process – all which is required is to enter your account email and API key.

NOTE: GTMetrix recommends running an initial test (or tests) before you go ahead with making any changes. This in turn will help get a baseline “before” speed.

Once you’ve collected this data, the following guidelines are recommended to be followed:

  • INSTALL CACHING PLUGIN TO WORDPRESS SITES: For running a WordPress site, a good web site caching Plug-in is a must. This is because Caching Plug-in will enable your Website to store copies of web pages, rather than generating them dynamically each time a new visitor logs into your Website. This in turn will help reduce load times while speeding up the performance of your Website. The two good free options that you can install and configure are W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache. W3 Total Cache Plug-in is more popular for it’s focused on WordPress optimization by caching your entire Website. Another good Plug-in is WP Smush Plug-in (an image optimization plug-in) that uses lossless compression to process JPEG, GIF and PNG images, for all currently existing images, as well as any new ones that you may upload to your WordPress installation. Also, Images – even large ones – will be “smushed” to 1MB or less.

After installing and configuring both of these plug-in’s, GTMetrix will ask that you run another speed test.

Once done, the end results will be much better.

  • REDUCE FILE SIZES: Having large image files or for that matter large file of any type (including PDFs, Word Documents and others) in your Website can only slow down page-load time. To avoid such a scenario, you need to reduce the image sizes and resolutions with the help of a program like Photoshop while considering storing large documents in zip files. In case, you’re storing sensitive documents, this has an additional SEO benefit, as zip files aren’t indexed by the search engines and, therefore, won’t be listed in the search engine results pages.
  • USE PLUG-INS WISELY: WordPress framework offers quality Plug-in’s to handle just a variety of tasks from sending your posts to Twitter to managing galleries of pictures and videos. However, the size of these plug-in files will add up. To avoid such a scenario and improve page load times, it’s advisable to use only that Plug-ins that you need and which can handle two or more tasks at once. Also, you need to delete all those Plug-ins that you aren’t using. If you follow these guidelines, your Website page-load times will improve dramatically and, consequently, so also will your website’s search engine ranking. 


  • SERVER OPTIMISATION: Check your server setup. In case, you’re using shared hosting from one of the many thousands of companies who offer cheap, generic server slots, there’s a good chance that you’ll see a substantial improvement in page load speed by upgrading to a VPS or a dedicated server. Better still, your Website if hosted on a server specifically optimized for WordPress, will further elevate page-load speed.
  • DEFER JAVASCRIPT: In case your Website is using JavaScript or any other scripting language, ensure that they stay ‘deferred’ (meaning that it loads last at the end of your page). In case, a user retrieves JavaScript from your Website, the data must be downloaded, parsed, and subsequently executed else even with caching, else this can slow down your overall page load speed.


 Does your Website’s Home Page display social media feeds? And on every page?

If that is so, there’s a good chance that they’re responsible for a good amount of website slowdown. Know that each time a page is loaded with social media feeds on it; each individual service will need to be queried.

Therefore the best solution is to limit your social media feeds to relevant pages only. By doing so, it does not mean you will be obscuring your social media presence entirely for you will still have outgoing links to each of your social media profiles.


On the full optimization of your Website with GTMetrix, you will find that you would like to maintain the changes in place. In addition, you can also

  • Leverage GTMetrix’s ability to monitor page load speeds continuously. What more, if you do that, GTMetrix will send you an alert via email whenever a certain parameter or requirement isn’t met properly.
  • Get to know if a page begins unexpectedly loading slower than you’d like. To do away with it, configure GTMetrix results to monitor for a number of different performance metrics, including the most important of all, the actual page load time in seconds.
  • Set up alerts for situations when your PageSpeed or YSlow dip below a predetermined threshold.

All of the above is immensely useful not only for ongoing website speed optimization, but for also quickly understanding unexpected situations which can affect a page.

For example, if you’re receiving an alert indicating a surge in traffic, then the corresponding server load might decrease the speed of your webpage. Just let it be for a surge in traffic is indeed a good thing for your Website.







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