The developers offer a free version with some basic features unlocked, but 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.
At a glance, users can view a summary of their website’s performance down to the individual page level.
Page load times, page sizes, and total number of user requests are available, as well as a performance comparison to the average load speed of other sites analysed with GTMetrix. A slew of informative graphs and charts will be at your disposal for a visual analysis as well.
What you should consider
Before working with any website speed testing tool – GTMetrix or otherwise – it’s very important to understand that a single speed test isn’t particularly effective at getting a good understanding of your website’s page load speed.
So to get reliable informative data, you have to do multiple speed tests at different times of the day, week, and perhaps even month.
Ideally, you’ll be collecting data from about one test per hour for a week or two. This will allow you to get a significantly more accurate average page load speed for your website.
You’ll also get some insight into your traffic patterns, such as when the most visitors are present on your site, and at what times of day. In theory, you could use this information to make strategic updates like adding new content or advertisements.
It’s easy to picture the internet as this “cloud” based, transient thing, but it does exist in reality. Therefore, physical proximity to a server has a statistically relevant impact on loading speeds. This is why GTMetrix conducts speed tests from different locations. You can 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 (e.g., 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.
Test more than just your homepage
If your website is like most, odds are the vast majority of your content – the stuff visitors are there to see – isn’t actually on the homepage.
It’s also likely that your homepage includes some basic information and serves as something of a portal for the rest of your site, so its actual file size is probably quite small, meaning that it might be the fastest loading page on your webpage.
The takeaway here is that you’ll get far more relevant and interesting data by testing a number of sub-pages as well. You don’t have to do all of them – for some websites that would be pretty impractical – but try and choose a fairly inclusive variety, such as blog posts, e-commerce storefront pages, single product pages, etc.
How to interpret results
While both PageSpeed and YSlow are generally aiming to provide users with the same kind of data, they accomplish this through different methodologies.
Therefore, using both services can give you additional perspective on how to further increase the loading speed of your website. Usually your score should be relatively similar for both services, but one might catch something the other didn’t.
GTMetrix makes this easy to view by providing you with the results of both tests in one convenient location. Now, both services offer a 0 to 100 percentage score. This should, in fact, not be your primary metric to increase.
A score might be lower than 85 (or 75, or 70) even for a well-optimized page – perhaps your page is data intensive and already loading as quickly as one could expect. Rather than focusing on scores too much, view them as general guidelines which are part of a greater whole and use your best judgment.
Just how necessary is that plugin?
Perhaps one of the most attractive features of WordPress as a content management system is the wide array of plugins available. So it’s possible that over time, your WordPress site has become bogged down by plugins. Generally speaking, the more plugins you’ve installed, the greater the impact will be on overall page load speed.
Simply disable the plugins you don’t need and use GTMetrix to see if there’s been an enhancement in speed. Scrap any inessential plugins that are causing unnecessary slowdowns.
Overall, GTMetrix is a great tool that can provide you with a slew of data that can make the task of website optimization much, much easier – if you know how to properly utilize the data and implement changes.
Also, getting real-time alerts from scheduled monitoring is invaluable to maintain speed over time, and GTMetrix does a good job of providing these kinds of notifications.