All You Need To Know About GTmetrix – The Complete 2020 Guide

Every business that wants a seat at the very front row of their niches must take their online presence seriously. Having a strong online presence is crucial to maximising profit and growth, and a guarantee to meeting other set business goals. One of the ways of building this formidable presence online is to have a fully-functional website – one with excellent content, top-notch SEO, and proper social integration.

It does not end there; there is another crucial aspect of a fully-functional website that most businesses tend to underestimate – the site speed. We have seen businesses allocate massive resources to take care of the SEO and content aspects of their site, while jettisoning the performance and site speed. However, the truth is that a website cannot be fully-functional or optimised for maximum digital conversion if the performance is not at 100.

Against this background, we have seen a wide range of tools and software designed to increase the speed of a website. One of these is the GTmetrix. This guide will reveal all there is to know about the GTmetrix suite. We will discuss how it works; how you can use it to improve your website’s speed and performance; and its cost implications.

But before we proceed, let’s take a closer look into why having a fast website is crucial to digital conversion.

A fast website is crucial to your digital marketing efforts.

Perhaps, you are still not convinced that speed is an integral part of a fully-functional website? Here is the conviction you need. Before now, people in the online space tend to believe that a website will thrive competitively with quality content. But, in reality, the content is just a piece of the puzzle. No matter how good your content is, your visitors may not see it if your site speed is slow!

The website speed contributes to the overall user experience of a website. A website that loads faster will leave a great first impression on visitors. Everyone loves a smooth experience – so they will definitely be back for more. Likewise, the speed of your website and its overall performance can be crucial to the decision-making process of a visitor, especially if you offer a product or service. Tons of traffic will not guarantee the expected leads and conversion rate if your website is slow.

When it comes to SEO, it is no news that Google now prioritises page speed in determining the ranking of a website in SERPs. Therefore, the mobile-friendly websites that load really fast will most likely rank higher than websites that take more than five seconds to load. This is why we encourage businesses to assess the site speed and loading times regularly and make improvements when and where necessary.

GTmetrix is one of the best tools for the job.

Is your website performing below expectations or running slow? You need to troubleshoot and get things back to normal. And this exactly is what GTmetrix does. Therefore, we can describe the GTmetrix tool as a site speed tool that is designed to fix issues that cause websites to load slowly.

Created by GT.net, the GTmetrix suite uses the Google PageSpeed and Yahoo YSlow modules to assess the factors contributing to a website’s speed. It checks if a site complies with the PageSpeed guidelines of both Google and Yahoo – the two most prominent search engines out there. It also provides recommendations on how to fix the issues (if any).

Key GTMetrix Features

As the biggest performance testing site on the internet, you will expect the GTmetrix suite to pack a wide range of tools for a comprehensive speed performance test on a website. Well, the developers did not disappoint. We have described some of the tools below, including their roles and how they do them.

Real-World Mobile Performance Data Analysis

The need to make your website mobile-optimised cannot be overemphasised. Almost all internet users now prefer to access their favourite websites from their mobile devices. However, if your website is not mobile-optimised, you may lose your competitive spot to your competitors with a mobile-friendly website.

Start by assessing your website to see if it is optimised for mobile view using the dedicated assessment tool. All you have to do is provide the URL of your website; the tool will pass it through an android device and measure the performance in terms of the page load and speed.  The result of the analysis comes with all the information required to optimise your website.

A slow page loading time of your website on mobile devices can be detrimental to your SEO efforts. It perpetually forces visitors off and to another website with a faster speed. This is why you must ensure that your site loads faster on mobile devices.

In-depth Report Page

It is difficult to troubleshoot without knowing where the problem lies. Fortunately, there is a dedicated report page on the GTmetrix tool that offers a summary of the performance of your website. Some of the essential data captured in the report include Page Performance (derived by comparing your website’s performance with other analysed sites on its database), Total page Size; the Page Load Speed; and the Total Number of Requests, among others.

Page Performance Monitoring

You do not have to wait until the end of the week or month to see how your website performs. With the page performance monitoring feature in the GTmetrix tool, you can keep track of your website’s performance in real-time.

  • The feature is very flexible – it allows you to schedule the page monitoring for a preferred time.
  • You get instant notifications and alerts on issues discovered during the monitoring process, perhaps due to a sharp rise or drop in the metrics being monitored. 
  • This feature also offers interactive graphs to aid the visual representation of your website performance. The graphs are available in three forms, each tracking a different set of data – PageSpeed and YSlow scores; the Page Size and Request Counts; and the Page Load Time.
  • You can also access the performance history of your website, for instance, how your website performed within a certain timeframe only.

Variability Analysis

The slow speed of a website is not always due to the website. Sometimes, it may be due to other factors like the type of browsers used, the users’ connection speeds, and the influence of on-page ads. The variability analysis compares how your website fares in terms of loading speed on popular browsers. This gives you an insight into which browser loads your website faster and better.

It does not stop there – the tool also loads your website page using varying connection speeds. The results of these simulations will help you to finetune your site correctly so that it loads fast irrespective of the connection speeds of the users.

Regional Testing

Another outstanding feature of the GTmetrix tool is its multi-region tests. This is made possible by the 13 GTmetrix servers situated across seven regions of the world. This extensive reach puts GTmetrix at a better position to conduct in-depth tests on websites, irrespective of location. It also makes it possible to assess several URLs simultaneously from one location.

The 13 GTmetrix servers are located in Hong Kong, India, Brazil, Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and in Canada – the headquarters.

Video Playback Feature

Data in graphs and tables are pleasing to the eyes and easy to interpret. But what is even better is having these data in video forms. The video playback feature in the GTmetrix suite allows you to see the playbacks of how your page loads. The real-time visualisation of the loading speed gives you a clearer perspective of where the errors or problems originate from. 

The video playback feature is not limited to only GTmetrix – a couple other speed-testing tools offer the same functionality. However, the version in the GTmetrix suite is better and more sophisticated. Unlike other tools where you sieve through tons of page load data to find what you want, GTmetrix allows you to jump straight to a particular history of interest.

You can also slow down the playback to get clearer perspectives, which you might have missed while playing at the regular speed. The playback speed can go up to 4x slower in the GTmetrix video playback feature. There is a Filmstrip View option that offers a frame-by-frame playback, allowing you to see the entire process more carefully. Lastly, you get a picture of how your page loads on a mobile device.

Security and Authentication

This feature is designed for website pages that ask users to log in or those running on HTTP authentication. It works by scanning the cookie data of such pages to see how it performs.  

On the security part, you can blacklist or whitelist a resource using GTmetrix. Blacklisted resources are not loaded on your page, while the whitelisted resources will load. You can blacklist resources that are contributing to slow loading speed and whitelist those that have little or no effect on the loading speed. However, it is vital that you correctly determine which resources should be blacklisted or whitelisted.

Data Archiving

The data archiving tool on the GTmetrix suite helps you to document your user reports for future reference. You can keep the report data for as long as possible and retrieve them whenever you want to. This report data covers every website page you are monitoring and contains every vital data. You can ask the report to be sent to your inbox via the weekly email digest feature of the tool.

That will be all about the key features you can find in the GTmetrix suite. You can find the full list of GTmetrix features here.

Now, let’s look at the plans and pricing.

GTmetrix Plans and Pricing

Most of these functionalities are available for free on the Basic Plan. Now, you may ask, why sign up? Upgrading to a GTmetrix paid plan gives you access to even more premium features. For instance, the Basic plan limits you to just three URLs and only 20 daily API credits. Conversely, the paid plans offer more numbers and features.

The paid version of GTmetrix is the GTmetrix Pro, which, according to the developers, offer more tests, more monitoring, and a ‘priority access to the GTmetrix testing service.’ If you ever decide to join the GTmetrix Pro train, you can choose from three ready-made plans or opt for the custom option.

Here is a closer look at each of these plans.

1.           The Bronze Plan

The Bronze Plan is an upgrade to the Basic Plan. You can monitor up to 10 URLs instead of 3, and maintain an archive of up to 100 URLs. There are 100 API credits instead of 20, and it allows you to setup unlimited custom filters for your reports.

The three paid plans and the custom plan all offer the following add-ons:

  • Remote monitoring of URLs from any part of the world.
  • Priority access for analysis and reports.
  • Hourly monitoring of URLs.
  • More accurate monitoring, thanks to video capturing feature.

It costs $14.95 per month.

2.          The Silver Plan

Here, you can monitor up to 20 URLs and maintain an archive of 200 URLs. You also get 500 daily API credits, alongside unlimited custom filters for reports. Finally, you get all the add-ons offered by the Bronze Plan. It costs $49.95 per month.

3.           The Gold Plan

At $149.95 per month, the Gold Plan is deservedly the most expensive on the list. In addition to the unlimited custom filters, you get up to 1500 daily API credits, while tracking up to 50 URLs. It also allows you to maintain an archive of up to 500 URLs. It offers all the add-ons on both the Bronze and Silver Plans, alongside white-labelled PDF reports customised with your company’s credentials.

4.          The Custom Plan

The Custom Plan is where GTmetrix allows users to choose their most preferred features and pay for just these. You can set the number of URLs to monitor, maintain, and archive. It also allows you to choose the number of API credits you want daily or custom filters you want to use.  Lastly, you get all the benefits and add-ons offered on the Gold Plan.

The cost of the custom plan depends on which features you are going with. It is the most flexible on the list, and perhaps, most preferred among users.

Should you use GTmetrix?

From our discussions so far, one thing is clear – the GTmetrix tool is equipped with all you need to improve your website’s performance and load speed. So, why not go for it if you can afford it?

The comprehensive page performance analysis on GTmetrix is one of the best around. Yes, there have been reservations about the absence of variable testing on GTmetrix, and the inability to compare different hosts’ connection speeds. However, the pros clearly outweigh the cons. This is why high authority websites find it easy to recommend it as a top website speed-testing and analysis tools for website owners.

Do you have questions on GTmetrix or any other aspect of your website performance or loading speed? Feel free to reach out to our team of experts. We will be delighted to listen to you and help you as much as possible.