How To Correctly Measure Your Website’s Page Load Time

When assessing the effectiveness of WP Rocket or any other WordPress caching plugin, it’s important that you are able to correctly measure the page loading time of your website.

There are several tools available for this. Our favorite, and the one we think is most accurate, is Pingdom.

How To Use Pingdom

Click Settings and choose the location closest to your web server, not your own physical location. Paste in your website URL and click Test Now.

Pingdom will summarize your web page performance at the top with 4 metrics:

  • Performance grade.
  • Requests.
  • Load time.
  • Page size.

Pindgom website speed test

Of these metrics, the most important is load time!

The grade is a general guideline of how well your site is optimized, but it’s not important to get a perfect score there.

The speed at which your site loads is really the only number that matters. When Google is visiting your site, it does not care or know about the performance grade, only the loading time.

Getting An Accurate Average

You should run the test several times to get an average loading time since it will not be identical every time.

If you have just added caching to your site, or have changed any options in your caching plugin, the first time a visitor (including a Pingdom bot) hits your page (unless it’s been preloaded), they will get a non-cached version of the page. That visit causes the cache to be generated, so the next visitor will get the faster, cached version.

So when you run the speed test, the first result could possibly be on a non-cached version of your page which is why it’s important to run the test a few times.

preload cache

WP Rocket will preload the homepage of your site and the pages linked from it when you either manually click the Preload button, when the cache has expired or when you create or update a post.

Additionally, when you create/update content the cache is deleted and preloaded a few seconds later for associated content such as category and tag archive pages.

If you simply use the Clear Cache feature or just save the settings, the preload won’t get triggered. So either trigger it manually, or just visit your website to generate the cache.

Most people only test the homepage of their site which typically has a lot more content on it than a regular page or post. So consider testing various types of content on your site to get a more well-rounded view of how fast your site is as a whole.

On many websites, visitors finding the site from a search engine will enter your site on a blog post or individual page, not necessarily the homepage, so the performance of all pages needs to be fast. You’ll probably find that those internal posts/pages load faster than your homepage.

Benchmarking

To really see how much improvement you’re getting from your caching plugin you need to benchmark your site without any caching plugins first by running the above tests and taking an average page load time.

Then add your caching plugin with its most basic configuration and run the tests a few more times to get a comparison.

Any time you activate a new option in the plugin you need to see if it has an impact – for better or worse, so you need to test each change that you make, in the above manner.

A lot of people turn on WP Rocket for example and enable ALL the additional options but find some slowness. This could be because additional options such as minification and others have the potential to conflict with themes, plugins and server configurations and should be used cautiously. They are not always necessary. Just turning on the plugin will give you the most significant speed boost. The additional options are just that—optional. They are not always necessary and should always be tested to see if they are giving you additional improvements.

Testing after every change lets you isolate a particular feature that may be causing an issue. This is true of WP Rocket or any of the other caching plugins you may use.

Also, make sure you don’t have multiple caching plugins running at once. For example, even if WP Super Cache is installed but not activated, it can still interfere so it needs to be fully deleted before testing a different plugin.

The Waterfall Chart

The waterfall shows you the loading time of each component of your page – all the various image files, CSS, Javascript files etc that are loaded each time someone visits your page.

If you are using a caching plugin such as WP Rocket you should be getting a fast loading time, but the waterfall chart can help you identify any bottlenecks or problematic files. Sometimes it only takes a couple of large images or external scripts to drag down the loading time of your page.

Click on the dropdown at the top of the waterfall and choose “Sort By Load Time”. This will show you the longest loading files at the top, making problem files easy to spot.

External scripts such as those from third party ad servers etc are probably your biggest enemy here. Since those scripts are not coming from your server there is no caching you can do on them – you are at the mercy of their server. You can see that in this example:

Pingdom - Sort By Load Time

Questions? Let us know in the comments!
*header image courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/purplemattfish/3020016417/

About

Lucy is a long time user of WordPress, (since 2004) and has provided WordPress training for bloggers and businesses for over 5 years. She has spoken at several WordCamps and is an active member of the WordPress community. You can follow @webtw on Twitter.

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52 comments

Comment

Thanks for this. It really makes sense. Simply using clear cache really makes a big difference to page load. I am currently researching about faster page or site load and cam across this one http://www.lionleaf.com/blog/tools-to-improve-page-load-speed/. It has the same solutions but your ideas are way clearer and easy to apply. Do you also make a comparative analysis of the various options such as images and page isolation?

Thanks for this awesome post. I have already purchased WP-Rocket and using it for my site http://www.trader-guide.com. Performance has improved beyond doubt. But I have disabled JS, HTML and CSS as I want maximum from Adsense. So, I am afraid, I haven’t got the taste of actual rocket. Suggestion please

I can also aggre on our eyelash serum site http://www.beautylabs.de we are currently running on the wp rocket theme. Im very impressed on the improvemets made by the plugin.

Have you looked at webpagetest.org?

I’ve found the options and data provided by webpagetest.org to be better than the Pingdom tools. A few items that I like in webpagetest.org:

– Traffic shaping the network connection
– Testing from various locations
– SpeedIndex
– Testing different browsers
– Option to capture packet trace
– First and repeat view
– Ability to compare test results

I’ve tried them all and for someone outside the US or europe the best option to test speed is indeed http://www.webpagetest.org/ Even Google have recommended this site on their webmaster blog. It gives more detailed, useful data than all others as well as having tests from many more cities around the world.

Should page load speed testing services give reasonably consistent results?

I have setup GTMetrix and Pingdom and the difference in the results is consistently significant – like 10 seconds different.

Pingdom always gives a faster load time (even though their service uses a service from the East Coast of the US and our site is hosted in Australia).

GTMetrix (using a test server in Australia) gives a page load speed that is consistently double the Pingdom result.

Thanks for detail insight over page speed. Most important that consideration of cache over optimization.

What does pingdom use as page load time? is this first bite recived? is this connection start? is this DomCompleted or loadEvent Completed? ths

Hello,

The speed of my site ( http://merkaela.com/blog/) is slower after I installed Rocket. I have ran the test several times and it continues to be slower. I know sometimes it takes time to start working so I just want to know if this is typical.

Best,

P.S. The set up was much much easier than W3 Cache which I have used on other sites.

I’m running a small web shop and I’m not a web master. My site was very slow and I had all kinds of plugins running on my WordPress site. Then I found WP Rocket. I removed most of my plugins and set up WP Rocket and Imagify. That quickly took my site http://www.sebraskinn.no from super slow to super fast. I love it!

I am in the process of designing my website focused on tourism Mystery Peru Tour – https://www.mysteryperu.tours and I’m happy how easy it is settings and I’m getting good results with WP Rocket

Hello, this post is very interesting, thanks for the dedication and the information, I have to say that after buying WP Rocket, my site http://www.somvalles.com/home/ improved its speed by 100% also has Great support professional help. The month prior to the installation of WP Rocket had 880.20 MB of Bandwidth and the following month 13.63 GB,
Month Unique visitors Number of visits Pages Hits Bandwidth
Jan 2016 1,347 2,096 12,790 39,179 3.99 GB
Feb 2016 1,309 2,048 11,489 26,316 2.16 GB
Mar 2016 1.151 1.799 16.745 38.991 3.64 GB
Apr 2016 1,135 1,998 38,018 39,912 477.07 MB
May 2016 1,132 1,790 28,269 70,860 6.79 GB
Jun 2016 865 1,341 13,562 37,847 4.58 GB
Jul 2016 2,055 2,893 35,043 86,378 4.02 GB
Aug 2016 2,591 3,265 36,780 62,833 3.09 GB
Sep 2016 1,228 1,814 40,559 53,219 2.38 GB
Oct 2016 2,955 3,901 52,300 52,546 880.20 MB
Nov 2016 3,210 4,476 80,978 154,414 13.63 GB

It seems the difference is important.

Great article. It would be awesome to have a tutorial on how to analyse the waterfall and use WP Rocket to improve the website speed even further..

I’m using wp rocket for my site http://oscarcarrillo.es and it has really improved a lot, it also integrates phenomenally with genesis framework, it’s an excellent combination

I’m in the process of designing my website and I’m happy about how easy the setup is and I’m getting good results with WP Rocket.

The scores are very good.

I’m using wp rocket for my site http://dmezzadri.com and it has really improved a lot… thanks you! you´r wokr is excelent!

I’m using wp rocket for my site https://tattoosartideas.com and it has really improved a lot ..

But any one can give me update here if this cache plugin also work for AMP pages …. ?

Thanks … WP Rocket Team

We’re using your plugin for https://malwareless.com/ and it’s now working great. I think Wp-Rocket is really the best cache plugin for WordPress

Really useful information in this article. I am also using the WP rocket for my website too, it’s really super and powerful cache plugins to use.

Thank you gentlemen for the insightful post!

Disclosure: I run a boutique hosting WordPress company and I’d like to share a few of the lessons we’ve learned about performance in the past 6 months or so.

1. We’ve incorporated WPRocket as one of our very first high-impact optimizations.

It’s absolutely awesome.

However, like this article states, it’s not always smart to enable ALL of the options.

More is not necessarily better.

For instance, deferred JS loading sounds like a universally good idea but it can actually drag site speed down.

Lazy Load is recommended by Google but can negatively impact user experience on an image heavy site.

And even Google doesn’t really reward sites that follow its PageSpeed Insights guidelines, so take those with a big grain of salt.

2. We’ve found a few cool, unofficial WPRocket extensions by a plugin author named Derrick Hammer which extend the functionality of WPRocket to do a few things like:

– defer JS
– load CSS asynchronously
– enable background cache

..etc.

You can find these plugins in the WP repository just make sure to test them before/after!

3. One of the biggest speed factors is the quality of your server and its location relative to the bulk of your visitors.

We host all of our customers on the CloudWays platform.

While you don’t get root access with CloudWays, it’s a very nice middle ground above crappy shared hosting but not quite as versatile as managing your own hardware and stack with root access (which requires some high level technical expertise and will probably cost you a pretty penny).

4. I want to reiterate the point in this article that there’s really not much you can do about external resources.

We’ve been working with a few ad-heavy sites that load huge images and GIFs from their ad networks, and they easily add at least 4 seconds to load times.

In this instance your only real option is to connect with your ad rep, see if there’s a possibility to host the resources locally, or maybe find an individual advertiser instead of using a network.

It’s kind of ironic that you would build up a huge amount of organic traffic to your website and then shoot yourself in the foot with ads that tank your load times.

Ironic, but understandable. 🙂

5. We’ve found that database optimizations can have a noticeable impact on performance, particularly in WP-admin.

I feel like this might be an easy option to ignore in WP Rocket but you shouldn’t ignore it.

Instead, take a backup (we use our CloudWays server backups plus the UpDraft WordPress plugin), and then clean out your database using WPRocket.

Also clean up old WordPress Cron jobs.

Here’s a resource on how to do that:

https://wordpress.stackexchange.com/questions/175878/delete-thousands-of-cron-jobs/176678#176678

If you have the option available with your host, it’s not a bad idea to upgrade to PHP7 and MariaDB as well.

6. Finally, we’re working on a master list of optimizations (some are more useful than others).

Feel free to use them on your projects:

https://airtable.com/shrhBRJUCOGJabfik

Cheers!
Vic Dorfman
Founder -SpeedKills.io

Thanks for a great product and support!

exactly now my site http://showmycoupons.in is running superfast using rocket wp plugin. thankk you

Really useful information in this article. I am also using the WP rocket for my website too, it’s really super and powerful cache plugins to use.

Thank you for this great plugin. I am using default setup + some little adjustments and works like a charm for https://www.invitacionesytarjetas.gratis

Hi, I am using WP rocket plugin on my blog. I check my site speed on pingdom. This site show me Load time
2.88 s. and sometime i activate css option my site design is look like very bad also speed little bit slow.

Please check my site speed and tell me what can i do

website https://www.himanshugrewal.com/

Hi , 🙂
I’m using wp Rocket on https://onlinehindiguide.com/ since 6 months and its working perfect and site speed is 100 times better than my Competitors.
So i’m a happy user of wp rocket. 🙂

Wow cool! After buying and having new updated WProcket plugins really fast compared to the previous version, it’s increasing my site speed in Google test speed more than 92% and reducing loading times less than a second. Many thanks for this! keep up a good work.

Hello,

I made maybe wrong configurations, but my speed test was reduced after installing wp-rocket on https://www.jpluxe.com

Thank you so much for the plugin – so much simpler than other plugins for a similar thing. Its configured in just a few clicks which is perfect. Our https://brixly.uk site is loading much, much faster thanks to WP Rocket

Thank you very much for this article. so very helpful. It is saving me quite a big headache to find out what all means in PingTool as well about WP-Rocket. We use the WP-Rocket on one of our site so far, https://luc8k.com, in the online shop pages. We run into a little bug, but thanks to WP-Rocket we hope to get that resolved a.s.a.p The page indeed loads faster and has a good performance. But looking at PingTool and compare now Luc8k and my very own website, the online shop website runs by far much faster as my own. This makes me to switch for my own website to WP-Rocket as well in the coming days. I have to, when I compare. Thanks so much again for the article, it was so much helpful for me. Saves me quite a few headache pills in the future 🙂

Ciao Anette

> When Google is visiting your site, it does not care or know about the performance grade, only the loading time.

I believe that is incorrect, the “performance grade” is the Google PageSpeed performance grade, unlikely they would ignore it. Any source on that?

Thank you Wp-Rocket 🙂

Tried another caching plugin (Famous plugin), and their plugin is broken, my site was extremely slow, full load took 20s, and their plugin uses heavy resources (I’m using VPS 4GB 2Core, KeyCDN, Cloudflare), even only one visitor my CPU and RAM spike up to 100%, 5 user online the website is down.

And then I was searching “The best caching plugin”, thousands articles said Wp-Rocket is number one. Saw the price and it’s cheap, so I give it a try. You know what, I’m really happy with WP-Rocket. Another plugin is broken, it can’t connected to KeyCDN, but WP-Rocket connected easily. Another plugin still cached any exclusion page in my setting, but Wp-Rocket not caching pages that I don’t want it to be cached such as admin dashboard and login page. Wp-Rocket setting is very friendly, super easy to use, compare to the competitor who have painful complex setting, but give poor performance.

And Wp-Rocket plugin is very light, my server usage now stay bellow 50%, even when I changed many setting on the dashboard.

With another plugin, my site load is 6s after cached, 10s before cached, that’s weird, using Wp-Rocket my site load is under 1s after cached, and 4s before cached. Note: I’m using fancy theme and heavy plugin, I have more than 10 external css files, but still fast IMO.

Wp-Rocket is world class champion! I’m really happy using it.

However, Cloudflare slows down my website, without Cloudflare the speed 100% more faster, should I remove the Cloudflare?

Man! I wish that I had come across this article sooner. I just updated my website to WP so trying to optimize as best that I can. The benchmarking is something that I didn’t even think to do. Love WP Rocket!

I’m using wp rocket for my site https://gotshot.com.au and it has really improved a lot… thanks you! you´r wokr is excelent!

I always use Pingdom to check my blog’s speed. You know what, I installed WP-Rocket on my blog and it’s blazing fast now. Keep the good work up guys.

Hello, I am using WP Rocket for improve speed in my website https://uncomocorreo.com

How can I remove redirects? I doesn’t watch these redirects.

Regards!

Does WP Rocket Support Memcached?

i use wp rocket. what’s the best configuration for the publisher theme. please help me

Great highly informative article. Pingdom, GT-Metrix and Google Page Insight are some the finest tools to test the actual performance of a website on various parameters. And the overall speed of website becomes much better when CDN and Caching plugin are employed correctly rather than a completely unoptimized website. Results are often much better when Wp-Rocket is the caching plugin with the tested website. No doubt WP-Rocket is the best cache plugin for WordPress when it comes to loading speed of WordPress website. Again, Thanks for the highly insightful remarks of the readers here. Regards.

Really useful information in this article. I am also using the WP rocket for my website too, it’s really super and powerful cache plugins to use 🙂

This article is Really useful information. I am also using the WP rocket for my website too, it’s really super and powerful cache plugins to use.

I have setup GTMetrix and Pingdom and the difference in the results is consistently significant – like 10 seconds different.

Pingdom always gives a faster load time (even though their service uses a service from the East Coast of the US and our site is hosted in Australia).

I am using Wp-Rocket which makes my blog faster. This tool is very useful and important for all users

Man! I wish that I had come across this article sooner. I just updated my website to WP so trying to optimize as best that I can. The benchmarking is something that I didn’t even think to do. Love WP Rocket!

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