Google PageSpeed Insights – A Common Sense Guide for WordPress Users

Google PageSpeed Insights Guide for WordPress Users

Listen, let’s keep it real, I don’t think you should use PageSpeed Insights unless you’re a developer. PageSpeed has its heart in the right place, but it’s not intended for the average WordPress site owner and the reports it provides are ripe for misinterpretation.

Have you ever watched the show Silicon Valley? One of the main characters is Richard, the CEO of a tech startup. He’s a programming genius but socially inept. He has great intentions and a grand vision, but as a leader, he doesn’t do the best job at communicating his vision and is notoriously ineffective at public speaking.

PageSpeed Insights has a lot in common with Richard: they both have great ideas and communicate them poorly.

The basic message of PageSpeed Insights could be translated as follows:

  • Keep your pages light and simple.
  • Avoid unnecessary fanciness.
  • Consider mobile users, particularly those who pay for every byte of data.
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7 Simple WordPress Performance Test Best Practices

WordPress Performance Test Best Practices

These days it seems most WordPress users are aware of the need for speed on their websites: conversions, SEO, user experience etc. I won’t recycle all the usual stats here ;)

Maybe you’ve read some articles and seen that you need to speed test your site. So you click on whichever tool is mentioned, input your URL and proceed to freak out at the results.

But wait! Before freaking out, make sure you’re observing these rudimentary best practices when doing a performance test on your WordPress site.

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Which Speed Testing Tool Should You Use For Your WordPress Site?

Speed testing tools

Measuring the loading time of your WordPress site is obviously a critical step in optimizing for speed. You have to be able to find where the bottlenecks are and where you can achieve the easiest and biggest performance “wins”. There are numerous tools, such as Pingdom, GTmetrix etc,  available for measuring the performance of your site, each of them providing a different result, which is understandably confusing. Which one is “right” and which one should you use?

The answer depends on exactly what you want to measure and the level of detail that you want. They each provide different metrics which is why they provide different results, but it doesn’t mean that any of them is more “right” than the other.

However, no matter which tool(s) you use, what’s more important is understanding what information you’re actually getting, and being consistent with the tool you use. It’s not useful to compare results between tools – for example, between GTmetrix and Pingdom. It doesn’t matter if Pingdom says 2 seconds and GTmetrix says 5 seconds. You should only compare multiple results from the same tool, before and after you’ve made some changes.

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