Do you want to use GTmetrix to test your WordPress site’s speed?
Many WordPress sites are slow due to factors such as slow web hosting, large image files, poorly coded plugins, etc.
In this article, we’ll show you how to use the GTmetrix plugin to test and improve WordPress site performance.
What is GTmetrix?
According to a StrangeLoop case study that involved Amazon, Google, and other larger sites, a one-second delay in page load time can lead to a 7% loss in conversions, 11% fewer page views, and a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction.
GTmetrix gives you a glimpse of what’s slowing down your website with suggestions on what to do to improve your WordPress performance and speed.
That being said, let’s take a look at how to use GTmetrix plugin to improve your website speed.
Setting up GTmetrix Plugin in WordPress
Upon activation, the plugin will add a new menu item labeled ‘GTmetrix’ in your WordPress admin sidebar. You need to click it to visit the plugin’s settings page.
On this page, you’ll be asked to provide your GTmetrix account email and API keys.
You can create a free account to get the API keys. This free account will come with a limited number of requests per day. However, if you are using this on one website, then you’ll likely never run out of credits.
Simply go to the GTmetrix website and sign up for an account.
After creating your account, click on the ‘User settings’ link at the top and then click on ‘GTmetrix API Details’ link under Account Settings.
On the next screen, simply click on the Generate API key button. GTmetrix will generate an API key for you which need to copy.
Now, you can switch back to the ‘GTmetrix’ plugin settings page in your WordPress dashboard. Go ahead, and enter your account email address and the API Key you copied earlier.
Don’t forget to click on the ‘Save Changes’ button to store your settings.
Now that you have set up the plugin, you can run your WordPress performance tests.
Simply go to the GTmetrix » Tests page. From here you can quickly test your website’s homepage by clicking on the ‘Test your Front Page now’ button.
You can also run performance test for any page on your WordPress website. Simply enter the URL of the page under the ‘Test performance of’ box.
For these custom tests, you can also provide a label and choose a geographic location. Ideally, you would want to focus on locations closest to your target audience.
Understanding GTMetrix Performance Test Results
GTmetrix offers a complete break down of the performance for the page you are testing. It uses Google Page Speed and YSlow performance tests to score your page load and will show an overall score as result summary.
Anything below A means there is room for improvement. However, this does not necessarily mean that your website is terribly slow.
To understand the score, you need to click on the ‘Detailed Report’ link, it opens up your URL on the GTmetrix site.
This report gives you a detailed breakdown of your PageSpeed score, YSlow score, and a list of recommendations on what you can adjust to improve your page speed.
It is divided into different tabs. First, you’ll see your page speed score with different ranking items listed with their individual score.
Green items are good and don’t need your attention. Red items are slowing down your website and require further investigation.
The best part is that when you click on the item, it tells you exactly what needs to be fixed.
That’s just one of the examples. Each tab has a little ‘What’s this mean?’ button. If you click on that, it will give you the details on what can be improved.
Here’s an example from the YSlow tab:
You can find all your past reports on GTmetrix » Tests page, under the Reports section.
This allows you to manage and run tests as you work on improving your website speed and performance.
Using GTmetrix Without a Plugin
If you want to use GTmetrix without installing the plugin, then you can simply go to their home page and then enter your URL.
After you test your site, you’ll get a detailed report just like you did with the plugin.
The disadvantage of this method is that you cannot save different reports and compare them as your website speed gets better.
Tips to Improve Website Performance
If your website is still showing low scores, then you can go through details and improve each item one by one. However, this would get too technical for a beginner level user.
The following are some quick tips to help you instantly improve website speed issues without any special skills.
1. Use Best WordPress Hosting
If your WordPress hosting provider is not good, then there is not much you can do to improve the performance of your website.
Here’s our recommendation of the top 3 fast web hosting companies you can try:
- Bluehost – great price + comes with built-in caching.
- SiteGround – premium WordPress hosting + built-in caching + uses Google cloud. We use SiteGround for WPBeginner.
- WP Engine – top rated managed WordPress hosting provider with performance optimization.
2. Set up WordPress Caching Plugin
All top WordPress hosting companies now offer built-in caching solutions that you can turn on to improve website speed. But you can also use a WordPress caching plugin to improve your website performance.
Caching allows your website to load a page from a temporary file instead of running a new request. We recommend using WP Rocket, it is the best WordPress caching plugin on the market.
3. Optimize Images for Faster Page Load
Images take more time to load than text and if a page has a lot of images then it slows down your website. On the other hand, images are important for user engagement and you cannot avoid them.
The solution is to optimize WordPress images for faster page load. You will still use the same images but with smaller file sizes.
There is a lot more you can do to make your website load even faster. We have compiled a complete WordPress speed and performance guide for beginners with step by step instructions to improve your website speed.
We hope this article helped you learn about how to use the GTmetrix plugin to improve your WordPress site performance. You might also want to check out our proven tips on getting more traffic to your website, and our comparison of the best email marketing services to connect with your visitors after they leave your website.