Being the manager of a WordPress speed optimization company (Turbo Web) and having a long experience as a freelancer in this field, I am many times asked about what’s the most accurate way of testing the speed of your website.The most popular testing tool out there is by far Google PageSpeed Insights. Clients are treating it like it’s the supreme judge when it comes to measuring website performance. From my experience, the first thing that 9 out of 10 clients ask is whether I can provide certain scores on this testing tool.
But here is the problem:
Google PageSpeed Insights is just a “best practices” tool. It’s a program designed to test whether your website has implemented all good practice recommendations when it comes to speed optimization. It isn’t accurate at least in this regard because there are many aspects it does not cover. A complete analysis of whether good practices have been implemented can only be done by using Google PageSpeed Insights in tandem with the other 2 best practice testing tools, namely GtMetrix and Pingdom. Only by doing this can one really measure whether his website is respecting all good practices or not.But what is even more problematic is the fact that neither of these 3 programs measure how fast the website is for real users. Real speed can only be measured with WebPageTest – a tool also developed by Google, but known only by professionals in the field of website speed optimization. This tool will test how your website behaves in real life, for real users. It will also show how every one of your website scripts behaves. It’s the ultimate tool when it comes to website speed analysis.
So how did we get here and why is this so problematic?
Webmasters seeking to improve their page speed want a simple tool where you can just submit your URL and get a score. They also want this score to be a perfect reflection of reality. Since this tool has a Google stamp on it, they end up believing it actually is. Unfortunately, thinks are not that simple.This causes problems in the field of professional website speed optimization because clients demand high scores on that tool and don’t even know about WebPageTest and how performance should be properly tested. Many speed optimization specialist, rather then educating the client, focus on delivering high scores on this tool instead of focusing on improving how fast the website is for real users. There are things that can improve grades on best practice tools but lower real performance for real users. Because of this problem, Google has recently tried adapting that tool but had little success.
Good practice tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights are good and necessary when performing a website speed optimization. A properly optimized website should have high scores on all good practice testing tools. BUT, one should only use WebPageTest to judge the real performance of the website.Page speed should be a priority for your business. Statistics show that every extra second costs you 11% traffic, 7% conversions and 16% customer satisfaction. Every tenth of a second costs you money. Therefore, you should start treating this issue seriously and learn how to properly test your real page speed by using WebPageTest instead of chasing big grades on best practices tools. Only then you will stop losing big money on the long term.