By: Simon Birch
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GTMetrix Score 100/100 possible?
Is it possible to have a 100/100 GTMetrix Score? Apart from the normal onsite or technical SEO, one of the biggest factors of SEO is page speed and user experience. We all hate slow-loading pages and waiting times, that is why websites are so important to have a fast speed load.
Bespoke website or a CMS? Build for Speed?
We have a few factors to take into consideration when speeding up a website, and this is before we get into the actual backend optimising the code and framework. Do we use a bespoke build or a CMS?
A few questions I would ask would be:
- Is the server fast enough to handle the requests of a CMS?
- Do we have the latest PHP or MYSQL versions etc?
- is the server optimized for compression?
- Can we use the same framework i.e compression and speed tools with a bespoke website?
- Do we use a bespoke or in-the-box CMS?
- Is the design/template optimised and ready for a CDN?
- Can we make the changes to both the CMS and design without breaking it?
- Is it possible to optimise the plugins and structure?
- Can the CMS or bespoke website handle cache effectively?
One of the challenges I have had through-out my career is developers and development. If you are looking at building a new website do your research. Take on-board with what developers say but again do your research. Developers love getting into code and doing things bespoke but they hate CMS systems. And why is that you may ask?
Its because if you opt for a WordPress website the development team have to learn the WordPress infrastructure. I am quite blunt with previous development teams, and if that’s what they have to do then do it. In all honesty, after deployment, most developers have learned a new skill and enjoy making new plugins for the CMS.
The Challenges with Website Speed
The issue we have is with bespoke websites we would have to create a whole new system to load images, or use lazy load which loads images as you browse down the website, whereas a CMS such as WordPress has plugins that are free to use and compress pretty much everything that you need. Normally these plugins have Pro addons for extra images or load and so on.
Plugins & Websites for compression:
There are many more you can test or choose from in the WordPress plugin archive.
So how do we get a 100/100 GTMetrix Score?
First of all, the scores will fluctuate. As the cache is renewed the score will go down, but after a couple of pages refreshes the score should go back to its normal state. The GTMetrix score is complicated to understand, but with a few guidelines you can work your way through the issues.
Before beginning your website you should have a plan of action and maybe a proposed timeline and what you want to achieve. Is it customer focus like an e-commerce store? a blog? and then you want to decide whether you’re using a CMS or not. For the sake of the internet, I will use WordPress as an example as it has over 35% of the internet webmasters using it, and WordPress 5.3 has been downloaded over 7 million times, so it’s by far the most popular choice.
1, Pick a server. I wouldn’t go with something cheap like Hostgator. If you expect the visits and the organic traffic to flow, build a solid server. I recommend a VPS which can cost as little from £25 a month from such places as Namecheap or Godaddy.
With a VPS you will have control of WHM and Cpanel, and be able to install updated and update PHP etc.. You can host unlimited sites and databases which is great for a testing environment.
3, Use a light theme/design/template framework. DO YOUR RESEARCH! I have had many clients say “that theme looks nice, let’s have that one” oh the stress.
- Make sure it’s light – it is not server heavy – do a speed test on GTMetrix
- Check the SEO coding using structured data tools in the search console – make sure there are no errors
- Make sure the template is easily editable
4, Optimise, Test, Optimise, Test.
- Optimise your HTACCESS file for expiry headers for cache control
- Optimise images and save bandwidth. Use Lazyload for large images
- Make sure you have sitemaps set up on webmaster tool resources
Use the data provided by your GTMetrix score. If in doubt ask us or “Google it”. It takes a lot of time and testing to make sure that your website is as fast as it is needed. It can take days or even weeks to optimise and test plugins to speed up your website and shouldn’t be taken lightly.