When it comes to measuring your page speed, there are plenty of testing tools to choose from. Some of them are very intuitive, others go deeper and provide tons of metrics.
From Google PageSpeed Insights to GTMetrix, Pingdom, or WebPageTest, you’re spoiled when it comes to the choices that are available.
Nonetheless, it’s undeniable that most of the people approaching page speed monitoring for the first time will most likely turn to PageSpeed Insights by Google.
We’re going to focus on this super popular tool. We’ll show you how to use it and understand its results, and how to fix its most common recommendations. We’ll also suggest some alternative testing tools.
At WP Rocket, we firmly believe that optimizing the web performance of your site is not something that should be left in the hands of a single tool. There are a number of excellent and free performance testing tools so take advantage of them.
Google PageSpeed Insights: An Overview
Google launched the first version of PageSpeed Insights around 2013. They wanted to provide a tool for performance analysis and make it usable for a broader audience.
For this purpose, they built a tool that returns a performance score and provides suggestions on how to improve it. Auditing is available for both desktop, and mobile devices.
What is PageSpeed Insights?
Over the years, Google PageSpeed Insights (also referred to as PSI) evolved to become one of the most popular performance testing tools. Its scores are easy to read, and its suggestions are useful to understand what can be improved on your site.
Our PageSpeed Insights Guide will take you through the secrets of this essential tool, and will show how to make the most of it.
PageSpeed Insights Scores: How to Read and Understand Them Fully
The scoring system at the core of PageSpeed Insights is probably one of the reasons it became so popular.
Getting a grasp of the health state of your website is effortless with PSI:
- The green check means that everything is okay.
- The orange circle means that something requires some attention.
- The red triangle is the dreaded symbol that indicates something is not working as it should.
Since the end of 2018, PageSpeed Insights is powered by another tool from the Google family: Lighthouse.
While the scoring system didn’t change its appearance, several under-the-hood mechanisms modified the way a PSI report should be read.
That’s why we wrote a guide on how to read the new PageSpeed audit powered by Lighthouse.
On the other hand, we can’t stress this enough: it’s imperative to use PageSpeed Insights as only one of the tools to assess the health of your website’s performance.
PSI scores shouldn’t give you headaches. They’re not a universal truth.
Our guide on why you shouldn’t care about Google PageSpeed scores explains why.
How to Fix the Most Common PageSpeed Recommendations
A PageSpeed report usually contains several suggestions. But, if you don’t feel comfortable with the technicalities of website development, they can cause confusion, and make you feel at a loss.
With our guide, Google PageSpeed Insights recommendations explained in plain English we provide the basis to understanding the most common PSI suggestions.
We’ll see how to interpret their meaning, what the easiest fixes are, and when you shouldn’t worry too much about them. Above all, you’ll understand why getting a 100% PageSpeed Insights score may not be a realistic expectation.
Google PageSpeed Insights Alternatives: From GTMetrix to Dareboost
Now that you know all the secrets concerning PageSpeed Insights, you can go on and get to know its alternatives.
There are several excellent speed testing tools out there, and the WP Rocket team uses some of them daily.
Here are seven of our favorites:
You can play with them, compare their results, (knowing that sometimes they can differ) and learn how to make the most of them to assess the real performance of your site.
For more details, check out our guide about page speed optimization for WordPress.
Understanding GTMetrix: One of the Best Alternatives to Google PageSpeed Insights
One of our favorite alternatives to PageSpeed Insights is GTMetrix. We use regularly to assess the performance of our customers’ websites.
GTMetrix is a straightforward tool that will give you a complete overview of your site’s speed.
It doesn’t rely on scores, and it starts with the most fundamental metric of all: loading time expressed in seconds. This indicator, more than any rating or recommendation, is the real starting point of any performance audit as well as a ranking factor for Google.
In our guide about understanding GTMetrix, we’ll provide all the necessary details to familiarize you with this tool.
You’ll see how to customize your GTMetrix report according to the characteristics of your site’s environment. It will also help you become an expert in the interpretation of its tabs and metrics.
How to Use WP Rocket to Improve Your PageSpeed Insights Score
Learning how to use performance testing tools to assess the health of your site is a crucial asset. Once you understand how to read their reports, improving scores, and fixing their recommendations will become a lot easier.
WP Rocket is one of the tools that will help you achieve this goal efficiently and without stressing too much on configuration settings.
Our plugin is all about caching and optimization. After installing it, your website will immediately, and automatically benefit from 80% of web performance best practices including:
- Page caching
- Browser caching
- GZIP compression
PageSpeed Insights will love this and reward your site immediately, improving its performance score.
Then, you have WP Rocket’s optional settings. They’re not mandatory since your website will be faster already, even if you don’t try them.
Proper use of these settings will not only make your site blazing fast, but will also boost its performance. You’ll achieve faster page speeds, better SEO rankings, and the best scores in PageSpeed Insights. (or other performance tools)
Most of the WP Rocket’s options that will make PageSpeed Insights fall in love with your site are included in the File Optimization tab.
PageSpeed Insights is particularly sensitive to the way files are loading on a page. A couple of its trickiest recommendations are called Eliminate Render-Blocking Resources, and Remove Unused CSS.
These refer to the fact that it’s recommended to delay (defer) the loading of non-critical files until the browser is done rendering the page.
WP Rocket helps you to solve this puzzle thanks to the options labeled as Optimize CSS Delivery.
On the other hand, the Media tab contains the options that will fix PSI recommendations related to images like Defer offscreen images.
With WP Rocket, we’re striving to make the web a more sustainable place with faster, and better performing web pages.