General Site Speed FAQ

GTmetrix FAQ

General Site Speed FAQ

1. Why should I be concerned with my site's speed?

Your users' experience in terms of navigating your site should be a great reason. Users have many options when it comes to consuming content on the internet, and a slow performing website will frustrate your users, sending them elsewhere. A faster and more responsive website will keep them more engaged and focused on your content, rather than waiting for scripts and images to load.

Another reason is for SEO. Google has announced they are using page speed in their ranking algorithm.

This means that faster performing sites may rank higher in search engine results. As developers and marketers look to optimize their sites, page speed should be among the top optimizations to consider.

2. My site loads pretty fast...why should I change it?

It's all about efficiency and optimization. Your site may be loading fast, but it could be faster if you take some of the best practices into consideration. You even might be able to reduce bandwidth and hosting costs by minimizing your footprint.

3. Now that I have my scores; What do I do now?

Start optimizing your site! GTmetrix provides explanations for each recommendation, and gives you actionable advice. The recommendations in the table you see are ordered in terms of which have the most impact on your site. Fixing items at the top of your list can have a bigger impact on your overall score.

Make sure you fully understand the recommendations before you begin though. Though many of them are applicable to your site, some are not. The recommendations are meant to be generic, best practices - you don't need to fix everything.

Need help? GTmetrix's developer, Gossamer Threads, can handle all of your speed optimization requirements.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

4. My server code is optimized. Is this enough?

It's a start - but the code that really needs to be optimized is the user facing code. Front end optimization (of CSS, javascript, images, HTML, etc) is what's going to make the most impact on your users. Often we only concentrate on server side optimizations, making the code as efficient as possible there; but we forget that we can get an even bigger speed increase if we optimize the front end code as well.

5. Why are my Page Speed and YSlow scores different?

Page Speed and YSlow use different recommendations when analyzing URLs. Each service analyzes a page using a set of rules that they believe are most relevant to page speed and performance. Most of the rules overlap or are very similar to each other, but in general your scores should be comparable.

Visit our Recommendations page for a list of each service's best practices.

6. I have a _______ type of site. Why is it asking me to do X?

The post-analysis recommendations are not always relevant to your site (EG. You do not need a CDN if you're running a small website or blog). This is why it's important to truly understand the recommendations and how they can affect your site. Not everything will apply to your site.

Visit our Recommendations page to learn more about each recommendation.

7. I don't have control over X, why is it asking me to fix it?

Most sites include code for services like ads, analytics or other widgets. These bits of code may fetch javascript or CSS from other sources. Of course, since you have no control over these resources, there's nothing you can (or need to) do.

8. Do I have to fix everything?

No, not at all! Start with the recommendations at the top. The report organizes recommendations in order of what has the most impact on your score.

Realize that 100% is not realistic, and a green score generally means your site is speed optimized. Remember that these tools are meant to be used for a wide variety of site types, and so some recommendations may not apply to your site.

9. How much of an impact will doing this have on my search engine ranking?

In general, there is no definitive answer one way or the other. Google has indicated they want a faster web, and to be able to "flip through sites" visually (like a magazine), which requires sites rendering fast and caching well. Google has also stated:

"While site speed is a new signal, it doesn't carry as much weight as the relevance of a page."

But don't do it for SEO, do it for your users!

GTmetrix FAQ

1. Why won't GTmetrix analyze my URL?

Check to see if your URL is in the proper format (eg. http://www.example.com). Another reason may be that the URL you entered requires you to be logged in first, and or it is being redirected to another URL.

Some URLs might not work for any number of reasons. For example, sites that are all flash will not yield a proper score; this is a limitation in YSlow & Page Speed, which do not take flash components into consideration when scoring. Here are the errors that might prevent your URL from being analyzed:

If you have a URL that won't analyze that you believe should, please contact us and let us know.

2. Why would I want to monitor my URL and how can I do it?

Once you've analyzed a URL, you'll arrive at its report page. Click on "Page Settings" on the left hand side in the Options box. Under the "Monitoring" heading there is a dropdown that allows for different monitoring schedules. Choose your desired schedule and save your settings.

GTmetrix will now monitor the specified URL.

3. How many URLs can I monitor?

We're experimenting with the scalability of GTmetrix, so at the moment you can only monitor 5 URLs. Upgrading to GTmetrix PRO can allow you to monitor more URLs.

4. How many reports can I save?

At the moment you can only save 20 reports on a GTmetrix Basic account. If you need to save more than 20 reports, you can always upgrade to a GTmetrix PRO account.

5. What's the difference between a URL being "Saved" and a URL being "Monitored"?

Saving a URL means that you have saved the latest run report on that URL. This is great if you want to do a before and after comparison when your optimizations are complete.

Monitoring a URL means that you have GTmetrix running scheduled reports (daily, weekly, monthly) on the speed performance of your site. This works well for developers who are doing ongoing upgrades and optimizations. By upgrading to GTmetrix PRO you can increase your monitored URLs cap, along with being able to monitor URLs every hour.

6. Are there any privacy settings?

Yes - If you don't want anybody to see a particular report for your URL, click on "Page Settings" on the left hand side in the Options box. Under the "Privacy" heading you can choose whether or not to make the report private, or allow anybody to see it.

Keep in mind that though a private report is protected from public view, anybody can create a report for any URL. If you can load the URL in your browser, you can analyze it in GTmetrix.

7. My graphs don't seem to be changing. Why?

A good reason could be that there haven't been major changes or optimizations done to that URL. GTmetrix tracks the speed performance of URLs, but unless any development or improvements have been done, the graphs will keep a straight line.

Monitoring is good for developers who are doing ongoing testing or optimizations for their site and want to track it over time.

8. What is the GTmetrix Bookmarklet and how do I use it?

Test with GTmetrix

The GTmetrix bookmarklet is a snippet of JavaScript tool that allows you to analyze the performance of the current page with a single click.

Firefox, Safari, Chrome users: Drag the button onto your bookmarks toolbar and click on it when you're at a site you want to analyze.

Internet Explorer users: Right click on the button and click "Add to Favourites". GTmetrix's bookmarklet contains JavaScript, so you will receive a security warning; click "Yes" to continue.

For easier access, move your bookmarklet to the IE Favourites Toolbar and click on it when you're at a site you want to analyze.

9. How do I compare URLs?

After having generated a report for a URL, click "Compare to another URL" in the top left "Options" box. An overlay will appear where you can enter the URL you wish to compare with the report. You will then be taken to the Compare screen with the comparison results.

If you would like to compare more URLs, click the "Add another URL" button - you are able to add up to 4 different URLs.

Note: The report from which you clicked "Compare to another URL" will be the base report. All additional reports will be compared against this report.

10. When I compare URLs, what are the + or - percentages in the YSlow/Page Speed grades?

The percentages represent the difference from the base report you've generated. The report from which you clicked "Compare to another URL" will be the base report. All additional reports will be compared against this report.

This is especially useful for comparing the same URLs after speed optimizations, since you can see how each compare to a base or starting point.

11. Can I compare an existing report with another report?

Yes! View the report that you want to be the base, and copy the URL of the report you want to compare it to. Click "Compare to another URL" and paste the URL. GTmetrix will recognize the URL structure and pull the report data for comparison.

12. What do the arrows on the right of my YSlow/Page Speed scores and rules mean?

These arrows indicate your performance relative to the other sites that GTmetrix has analyzed in the past 30 days.

The green arrow pointing up indicates that you've scored higher than the average.
The red arrow pointing down indicates that you've scored lower than the average.
The orange arrow pointing in both directions indicates that you've scored within +/- 5% of the average.

This is useful because you can see which rules might require more attention than others. For example, if you scored an F (0) for YSlow's "Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)" rule, you can rest assured knowing that thousands of other sites have the roughly same score; Don't worry about it if you're running a smaller site, and don't want to pay/can't afford a CDN.

13. How do I read the Waterfall Graphs?

GTmetrix's waterfall graph is generated using Honza's HTTP Archive Viewer, which closely resembles what you would see in the Net panel of the Firebug extension.

Reading and understanding a waterfall graph is a bit more involved than what we can get into here, so here are a few links that can get you started:

14. I have a page that requires HTTP Authentication. Can GTmetrix analyze it?

Yes! Log into your GTmetrix account and under the URL field there will be an "Advanced Options" tab.

Enter in the credentials and click "GO!" GTmetrix will pass in the credentials and analyze the page.

You can also enter the username and password using the http://username:password@example.com/ syntax, but usernames or passwords containing @, :, or / must be URI encoded.

The login details will not be displayed in the report (and will also be stripped from the HAR file), but will be saved for future use - you will be able to re-analyze the page without entering the login details.

Note: this feature only works for HTTP Authenticated webpages (eg, pages protected using an .htpasswd file).

15. How can I analyze a page that requires a login?

Session cookies can be entered to allow GTmetrix to analyze pages which use cookies to store your login state. This will also work for sites that use cookies to save other user information like user preferences.

To do this, login to your GTmetrix account, go to the "Advanced Options" dropdown and enter the cookie session information, enter the associated URL and click "GO!"

GTmetrix will analyze the page and send the supplied cookies with the request.

Cookie information should be entered as follows (one per line):

cookie option(s) cookie(s)

cookie option(s) = zero or more cookie options (format: name=value), separated with spaces. Available cookie options: host, path, httponly. If no host or path is supplied, the cookie will default to using the analyzed URL's domain for host and / for path.
cookie(s) = one or more cookies (format: name=value) separated with semi-colons.


A single cookie:

Allow cookie to be used on sub-domains:
host=.gtmetrix.com metrix_session=QadlvUk3h

More than one cookie:
host=.gtmetrix.com metrix_session=QadlvUk3h; username=gtmetrix

Please use a test account. While cookie information is stripped from the report, it's still best to use a test account for security purposes. To avoid having to update the cookie information every time, we recommend using a cookie from a permanent session.

If you'd like any more information on cookies, please feel free to ask us a question!

16. How can I get my session cookies?

First visit the site on your own computer. Log in, or do whatever you need to make the site generate the cookie(s). If you wish to monitor this page, make sure you log in with a permanent session. Depending on your browser, do one of the following to view the cookies:

Firefox users: Go to "Tools", "Options", "Privacy", then "remove individual cookies" or "Show Cookies".

Chrome users: Click the wrench button, then "Options", "Under the Hood", "Content Settings", "Cookies", then "Show cookies and other site data".

Internet Explorer users: Unfortunately, viewing cookies in IE can be difficult; we recommend downloading a program like IECookiesView to view cookies.

Using the cookie viewer's search filter, search for the domain of the site. Click on the cookies you wish GTmetrix to send with the request. If you're not sure which ones, there's no harm in sending them all. Using the format outlined in the previous question, enter the cookies into the GTmetrix Cookies option text area.

17. How can I see the impact ads have on my site?

Log into your GTmetrix account and under the URL field there will be an "Advanced Options" tab.

Check off the "Block ads with Adblock Plus" option. Your URL will be scanned with the ads blocked. You can also enable this option in the "Page Settings" link on the Report page sidebar.

Blocking ads is helpful if you want to see the impact the ads are having on your page load times.

For example, here is a comparison of Smashing Magazine's homepage with and without ads blocked:


Currently, GTmetrix only offers the ability to enable and disable the usage of Adblock Plus. The Easylist English filter subscription is used as the default filter set.

18. How can I test a site from a different location?

GTmetrix has numerous test servers located worldwide which you are able to use for testing your site's speed. You can specify which test server to use by selecting a test server in the "Advanced Options" tab, on the dashboard page.

19. How can I test my mobile performance?

GTmetrix offers page analysis through an actual Android device (Galaxy Nexus). On your Dashboard, click "Advanced Options" and select "Chrome (Android, Galaxy Nexus)" in the Test Format setting. If you wish to re-test from a Report page, click on "Page Settings" and change your Test Format settings there. Re-test!

20. How is the mobile analysis performed?

GTmetrix sends a request directly to our suite of mobile devices and requests your URL via a WiFi connection. We use Chrome to load the page and send the data back to GTmetrix for report generations. The ruleset used is slightly changed - we use Google's Page Speed rules with prioritization for mobile devices. This results in a very accurate representation of your mobile page load performance.

21. What are the devices and versions you use for your mobile tests? Will there be more in the future?

Currently, we use Chrome v1.4.3 and Android 4.2 Jellybean on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

Future mobile expansion includes iOS6 and iPhone5.

22. Do you use a different ruleset for Page Speed/YSlow for mobile analyses?

Yes we do! We use Google's Page Speed rules with their prioritization for mobile devices. This ensures that characteristics of mobile devices and their connections are considered first in the recommendations. Google changes these rules often however and some are experimental at the moment.

YSlow does not have a specific ruleset for mobile devices, so your score will remain similar to the desktop analysis.

23. How can the filmstrip help me?

Basically, the filmstrip is another way to visualize your site load. By offering snapshots of the page loading in real time, you can figure out where any issues or blocks occur.

This is especially useful in Comparison mode (coming soon), where you can assess site load progressions side-by-side and note differences.

24. What can connection throttling tell me?

By simulating a particular connection speed, you can identify any potential loading issues for your target audiences. For example, if a large percentage of your users are coming through mobile devices, it would be good to see how your site performs under a 3G/2G connection to ensure a speedy load time for that user base.

25. How does GTmetrix throttle connections?

GTmetrix utilizes specially customized software to simulate any kind of connection. We do this by modifying our fibre connection's download speed, upload speed and latency. We throttle both IPv4 and IPv6 traffic when analyzing your page, to ensure that report data is accurate.

26. Why isn't my CDN being recognized?

YSlow's default list of CDNs that it detects are limited to CDNs that Yahoo! uses. We've added detection for a few of the more popular CDNs, but it still may not detect your CDN by default.

If YSlow isn't detecting your CDN, then you can add your own CDN hostnames so that they aren't penalized by the CDN recommendation. On your Dashboard, click "User Settings" on the left hand sidebar. Then, click the "Analysis" tab on the top right of the lightbox, and input your CDN data under the "YSlow CDN Hostnames" field. GTmetrix should then recognize your CDNs in your analysis.