Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions regarding site speed issues and GTmetrix usage.
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?
5. Why are my PageSpeed and YSlow scores different?
PageSpeed 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?
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!
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 & PageSpeed, which do not take flash components into consideration when scoring. Here are the errors that might prevent your URL from being analyzed:
- Invalid URL
- Didn't return a 200/300 status response
- Didn't return an html page
- Internal Server Error
- Unable to analyze with PageSpeed
- Unable to analyze with YSlow
- Unable to get screen capture
- Timed out
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 "Monitor" on the right hand side to open the menu where there's 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 3 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 the report and its history is kept from being purged after 30 days. This is great if you want to do a before and after comparison when your optimizations are complete and keep track of the performance over time.
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. A monitored page is also kept from being purged after 30 days. 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 right hand side. 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
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.
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" in the top right. An menu 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" 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/PageSpeed grades?
The percentages represent the difference from the base report you've generated. The report from which you clicked "Compare" 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" 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/PageSpeed scores, page details 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 your result is better than average.
- The red arrow pointing down indicates that your result is worse than the average.
- The orange diamond icon indicates that your result is within +/- 5% of the average.
This is useful because you can see which attributes of your site might require more attention than others.
In particular, you can determine which PageSpeed/YSlow recommendations make sense for you to tackle. 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 "Analysis Options" button.
Enter in the credentials and click "Analyze". GTmetrix will pass in the credentials and analyze the page.
You can also enter the username and password using the
http://username:email@example.com/ syntax, but usernames or passwords containing
/ 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) - this is different from a cookie based session (see the next FAQ item for more details).
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 "Analysis Options" button.
Tick the "Adblock Plus" option. Your URL will be scanned with the ads blocked. You can also enable this option in the "Page Settings" button 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 "Analysis Options" button, 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 "Analysis 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 PageSpeed 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?
Currently, we use Chrome v1.4.3 and Android 4.2 Jellybean on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus.
22. Do you use a different ruleset for PageSpeed/YSlow for mobile analyses?
Yes we do! We use Google's PageSpeed 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 putting limits on 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.
For CloudFlare users, YSlow should automatically detect the CDN usage if it's set up correctly and you've given it enough time for the DNS to propagate (typically takes up to 2 days).
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. Visit your User Settings page and then input your CDN hostnames under the "YSlow CDN Hostnames" field. GTmetrix should then recognize your CDNs in your future tests.
27. How does PageSpeed optimize my images?
GTmetrix Analysis Errors
1. Network connectivity errors
There may be a connectivity issue between your server and the GTmetrix test server if you get errors like "Read timeout", "Write failed", "Broken pipe" or "Connection reset by peer".
You can try again later, or try testing from another one of our test locations (requires log in). If it fails from multiple locations, it usually means that it's a problem on your end and your users are experiencing similar issues. Contact your hosting provider to get the issue resolved.
2. Server status errors
GTmetrix only analyzes pages that return a success HTTP status code. If you get this error, your page has returned an error HTTP status code.
The most common reasons for this include:
- Your web application generating the page is incorrectly returning an error HTTP status code, but is returning page content that does not indicate an error.
- Your web application is blocking GTmetrix from accessing the page. With WordPress, it could be due to plugins like Bad Behaviour or Wordfence. With e-commerce software, it's common that the access is blocked based on the IP.
- You are using a reverse proxy (eg. CloudFlare) and it's blocking GTmetrix from accessing the page.
In all these cases, you'll need to fix or configure your web application to return a success HTTP status code or allow GTmetrix access to your page. Your web server's error log may provide insight into why it's returning an error.
3. SSL certificate errors
GTmetrix only analyzes HTTPS sites that have a valid, trusted SSL certificate (ie. not self-signed, non-expired, matching common name).
A common problem with HTTPS sites is that the intermediate/chain certificates aren't installed correctly. If you don't have the intermediate certificates installed properly, some users (including GTmetrix) will get an SSL certificate error while viewing your page. For instructions on how to properly install your SSL certificate and to test your SSL certificate visit SSLShopper.
4. DNS errors
If GTmetrix has problems resolving your site's domain, then you may have DNS configuration issues. You can get a report on your DNS configuration at intoDNS - be sure to look into the items that are marked as red.
However, if your site has recently changed name servers or changed its DNS configuration (eg. moved servers), then the issue might be that your DNS records have been cached. Depending on your configuration, this may take up to 24 hours (at most 48 hours) to propagate. Try re-testing your page at a later time.
5. Your page took too long to load
The maximum time GTmetrix will wait for a page to load (time it takes for the window.onload event to fire) is 2 minutes.
The most common reasons for this error are:
- An extremely slow loading page or resource or lots of slow loading resources.
For slow loading pages or resources, testing from a closer test location (requires log in) may help speed things up.
6. The URL did not appear to be an HTML page
GTmetrix only analyzes HTML pages. To ensure that your page is a HTML page, GTmetrix checks to the Content-Type header for text/html.
You also may get this error if the Content-Type header is missing or the value is empty. The problem is likely an issue with the web application and not the web server.
You also may erroneously get this message if your page opens a popup that evades the browser's popup blocker. Unfortunately, there is currently no fix for this other than to ensure that your page does not open the popup (the URL blacklist option may also help work around this issue).