Optimizing page performance is essential because pagespeed is one factor used by Google’s algorithm to rank pages. It’s an official signal from Google, and you definitely want to follow their guidelines to remain on top of the competition.
Several online tools are available using which you can benchmark your webpage performance. With these tools, you can analyze web pages and prepare a report that tells you which part of the page is working fine and where you need to pay extra attention.
In this article, we will guide you through how to test & optimize page performance using a popular website benchmarking tool called Pingdom Speed Test Tool.
Let’s go through a couple of thoughts and reality checks regarding Pingdom and page performance optimization advantages before we start.
What Does Pingdom Speed Test Tool Offer?
The speed test tool is a product of Pingdom that offers cost-effective and reliable uptime and performance monitoring service. Previously it was solely a page performance testing tool, but later they have introduced a couple of other features such as uptime monitoring, transaction monitoring tool, and website status alert system.
The website speed test tool tells you exactly how fast a page loads and your page size, the total number of HTTP requests required to obtain full-page contents, and the performance grade based on the guidelines of Google’s lighthouse standards. Not only that, you will receive suggestions to improve wherever necessary.
A typical representation of the Pingdom test result is as follows:
Furthermore, you can analyze the types of content being served from your web page. Depending on the result, you can tweak cache settings to remove the bloats and deliver a more optimized experience to your page visitors and the search engine crawlers.
The Pingdom test tool classifies the contents on a particular page and displays them in a hierarchical order. It helps you understand the size consumption and load time of those contents and make it clear where you should focus for optimization.
The file request report is another important sector of a Pingdom test result page. You can track the behavior of the requests per page and the time taken for the completion of each request.
Each request bar represents the time taken by phases of an HTTP connection from the initial phase up to the HTTP response’s final byte.
Overall, my 3 years of personal experience with the Pingdom Speed Test Tool allows me to say that you can significantly improve page performance with this tool’s insight.
All you need to understand is the purpose of a suggestion, and a few research would help you learn the process of bringing those changes with a caching plugin on your WordPress site.
What Makes Page Performance Optimization So Important?
Typically, fulfilling all the performance optimization opportunities suggested by Pingdom is a rare occurrence. Honestly, a page doesn’t have to be 100% optimized in terms of performance, and technically you are not achieving ~10ms page load time either.
The goal is to listen to this tool, and analyze whether a suggestion from the Pingdom website testing tool is achievable without harming the appearance and experience of a webpage. If that makes sense, you should look for optimizing a page to its best possible state.
Some of the essential reasons you should consider improving page performance are:
- A slow page means the search engine crawler will cover fewer pages using their allocated crawl memory budget.
- Fewer crawls mean your website is getting less indexation per round.
- Slow page negatively impacts user experience and increases page bounce rate.
- And most importantly, a longer loading time affects goal conversion.
With that approach in mind, let’s go through how to test a web page on Pingdom and what you need to do next.
How To Test a Page in the Pingdom Speed Test Tool?
Testing a page on the Pingdom Speed Test Tool is simple. The required steps to test a webpage are mentioned below,
#1. Click on this link to visit the Pingdom Test Tool. You should see the URL placeholder, location dropdown, and the start test button like in the image below.
#2. Inside the URL textbox, you should paste the page URL for which you want to test the report.
#3. You will have to choose one of the total 7 available locations from where the test will be carried out. It’s a great idea to know how people from different regions are experiencing your website.
#4. After choosing your preferred location, click on the start test button. Once the test started, you might have to wait in a queue for a couple of seconds, depending on any ongoing test being carried out.
#5. When the test is finished, you will get the test grade result along with other important information I have discussed above.
Now that you have your test result (good news if there’s no room for improvement), your next step should be to follow Pingdom’s suggestions and take necessary actions. The following part of the article explains the types of recommendations you might notice and what you should do to improve on those areas.
Understanding the Recommendation of Pingdom Speed Test
After a successful Pingdom Speed Test, you will have a series of suggestions based on the opportunities you have to improve page performance. However, these suggestions are not fixed, which means you may get different suggestions for different sites.
A suggestion is denoted with a grade on the left to indicate the current score of optimization. It also helps in understanding the priority of optimization of a particular suggestion.
For demonstration purposes, I have taken two snapshots of Pingdom’s suggestions of two different testing results. It shows that Pingdom can analyze and provide attention to the most important areas rather than a static recommendation-based module.
Test result 1:
Test result 2:
If you notice these two images above, there are variations in the suggestions and the hierarchy of the priority. Although it might look normal, it makes lots of sense to work on the low-grade areas, which can significantly improve a page’s performance.
Typical Pingdom’s Suggestions and To Do’s
#1. Make Fewer HTTP Requests: This suggestion on the test result indicates that you need to reduce the number of HTTP requests a browser needs to send to the webserver to render the page contents. The lower the number of requests, the faster will be the content transaction time.
#2. Compress Components with Gzip: This asks you to reduce the HTTP request’s size, and the impact is similar to the previous one. Applying Gzip compression on your files will lessen the file size, and thus it will save your server’s HTTP response time to the browser’s requests.
Popular free caching plugins such as Autoptimize, and WP Super Cache allow you to compress Js and CSS files. Make sure to install one caching plugin at a time on your site. Multiple caching plugins can create configuration conflicts and increase server load.
#3. Use Cookie-Free Domain: Typically, most of websites have static information such as images, CSS files, JS files, etc. It’s not a good practice to include cookies in the headers of HTTP requests and responses for static files. So Pingdom recommends you serve static files from a cookie-free subdomain.
By configuring a domain that doesn’t set cookies to its content, you can reduce the number of incoming requests to the server. Serving cookie-free content doesn’t have a noticeable improvement in your page loading speed. However, it does follow the best practice of Lighthouse.
#4. Add Expire Headers: A web page becomes more complex with a lot of scripts, images, style sheets, and so on. The first visit to a page of that complexity requires several HTTP requests to render the entire page. Pingdom suggests you avoid all these requests every time a visitor wants to see the page.
To fix it, you need to use expire headers and make these objects or components cacheable and avoid unnecessary HTTP requests in subsequent pages.
#5. Avoid URL Redirects: URL redirects tell the browser to visit another address. If your page includes such redirects while the page is being rendered, it eats a lot of time and delays the page loading time.
To fix it, you need to test the page using tools like Screaming Frog, or you can even check the links manually to identify such redirects. Another reason for URL redirection indicates that you are using an Ads network on your page or a malicious code injection by bad guys.
#6. Reduce DNS Lookup: DNS typically takes around 20 to 120 milliseconds to hook up an IP address to a hostname. During this time, the browser can’t download anything from the host and has to wait. The more DNS hookups occur while a page is loading, the longer it will delay the process. Here is a great guide from KeyCDN you can follow – How to Reduce DNS Lookups.
#7. Avoid empty src or href: When the browser finds an empty image src address, they (some browsers such as IE) request either the page or the page directory address. This behavior wastes server resources by requesting a page that would never be able to view.
To detect such empty src, you can check your page at GTmetrix, a similar tool to the Pingdom Speed test tool. Once you can identify those missing src, you should fill them with the correct image source address.
There are a few other suggestions that you may encounter depending on your site’s performance. All you need to expand the suggestions, and Pingdom already has a detailed explanation of all the suggestions they provide.
Alternative Tools of Pingdom Speed Test Tool
Pingdom Speed Test Tool is not the only tool available to benchmark your page performance. There are a couple of great tools such as GTMetrix, Page Insight, Dotcom Speed Test Tools, etc. While most of these tools represent a similar UI for testing a page, the working mechanism is different.
How do we know that? Well, because you can see the variation of the test report, grade, and total load time in different speed testing tools. Since they provide different results, it’s recommended to stick with one tool’s idea while optimizing a web page. Later you can test your page using other tools and observe how your page scores there.
Below we have added a couple of alternatives to the Pingdom Speed Test Tool you should try.
#1. GTMetrix: Millions of people around the world love GTmetrix. It’s developed by Carbon60 to provide users with a handy tool for testing their webpage’s performance. The UI is straightforward to understand, test reports are so detailed, and you can follow their guidelines to resolve an issue instantly from the report dashboard.
#2. Page Speed insight: If you want to see how Google sees your page’s performance, then Google’s page speed insight is the tool for you. It won’t provide you with in-depth suggestions and reports, but getting a satisfactory score on this tool gives a whole other level of satisfaction.
#3. Dotcom Speed Test: If you want to test your page from multiple server stations and get a bulk report, then the Dotcom Speed Test tool is the one for you.
Apart from testing a page from multiple geo-locations, it can indicate any error found during page load, provides insight into repeated tests and their data, including the score, and measures Performance, Best practice, and SEO, respectively.
The Dotcom test tool is one of my all-time favorite tools to test a webpage.
This list doesn’t end here; however, we believe these three tools, including the Pingdom Speed Test Tool, are enough to prepare the fastest version of your webpage.
Google is about to publish a new version of core web vitals soon, so optimizing your page performance will become extremely necessary for better search results.
No doubt, with tools like the Pingdom Speed Test Tool, and the other three, you can debug a page and find the solutions to follow the regulations for Core Web Vitals.
I hope this post helps you.