Earlier this year, Google announced that they are going to be introducing page speed as a ranking factor in July, especially for their mobile search. This is crucial since the majority of all searches comes from mobile devices. AMP (accelerated mobile pages) is a big step towards the point where we can rely on content to load near-instantly on our mobiles, but a lot of sites are still struggling to load their content in a timely fashion. Thus, not to lose any rankings, or even gain some organic traffic, one needs to have a fast website. So, I had to turn my attention to website building, user design and search optimization.
As someone who doesn’t particularly know everything about the dev functions of a site, a task of page speed optimization is more like a battlefield.
To help all of those who have limited team availability and need to get things done fast, including myself, I found a couple of places that not only taught me a lot about website development but helped me to optimize my website with limited coding knowledge, fast. I reckon, Google PageSpeed Insights and Gtmetrix are both great tools to help identify speed related issues and fix them, so I made a little run down of pros and cons of both of these tools.
Page Speed Insights
First things first, PageSpeed Insights. A wonderful open source project that is primarily developed and by Google. It’s probably one of the first things that show up on your organic SERPs looking for page speed optimization insights and the third, and the fourth… there are a lot of versions of this. It’s an open source!
Out of all of the speed testing engines out there, we are going to look at the Google dev version of PageSpeed Insights, because it can test both, the desktop and mobile version of your website.
It is built on the originally developed by Yahoo, this public tool is great for anyone who is learning about optimizations. It gives simple results about your website speed and serves your options for page speed optimization.
Now, the good thing about the PageSpeed Insights is that it gives you basic info for optimizations, so if you are interested you can continue your search for a better website by digging deeper into dev blogs and forums. Also, PageSpeed Insights are excellent for mobile optimization and pleasing the crawlers of mobile search. It gives you specific insight into the mobile side of your site, and how to increase the page speed of it. However, because PageSpeed Insights gives you quite basic, but the specialised information it can be difficult to digest if you are a newbie at this. So, if you are using it make sure that you follow up with anything you don’t particularly understand, and don’t just jump into it.
GT Metrix has been a lifesaver for me! It has been developed by GT.net and originally used as a tool for their hosting customers, but since has gone public, and gained a great dev following for all of the features that it offers.
GTMetrix’s report page summarizes your page performance based on key indicators of page load speed. It uses Google’s PageSpeed and Yahoo!YSlow rule sets to give results.
Now, this is where I think I struck a goldmine of information.
GTmetrix’s reports have a lot more information on them. It uses a slightly simpler language, so if you know the basics of the HTML this will definitely make it simpler. Additionally, working on GT Metrix they give you more detail about working on a CMS platform rather than just plain HTML. Also, it has a neat waterfall feature, which shows you how your website loads. And from this information, you can see what slows your website.
Another great benefit of GTmetrix is that each section has a ‘What does this mean?’ button, which explains what can influence the score and how to improve on it, and if you need more information it recommends blog posts, that usually come with handy tool recommendation for automating the task.
Obviously, there are other tools available to use for your site speed optimization, but personally, I found these the most useful for a beginner. And with little help from our ‘frenemy’ Google, you can dig deeper into your site and explore all of the nuances of HTML parsing and page speed optimization yourself. If you are looking to use these tools, make sure that you always backup your site before starting any work and have them handy. Trust me on this one… I have paid the price before!