Improving Sitespeed with WPEngine

I recently launched a new business and built out the website for Content Kickstart  on my Hostgator reseller hosting account.

As part of my pre launch process decided to check out the site speed.

Why?  Well in 2010 Google announced that they started incorporating site speed as a part of the ranking algorithm which includes over 200 different variables.

In addition to the ranking benefit, having a fast site is an important part of the user experience.

You really don’t want to keep visitors waiting for pages to load.

I was shocked however when I tested my site speed using the GTmetrix site speed tool, that my site scored an F on the Page Speed tools test and a D using the YSlow tool.

Have a look at the Performance Report from GTmetrix.

Site Hosted on Hostgator Shared Hosting

GTmetrix Performance Report on Hostgator Shared Hosting
GTmetrix Performance Report on Hostgator Shared Hosting

Holy Crap I thought!  I mean I built the site on the Genesis Theme Framework which out of the box is supposed to be quite lean and fast.

My mind instantly turned to my new managed WordPress hosting service WPEngine.com which I had signed up to for one of my ecommerce sites.  I had the Professional Plan for $99 a month which allowed me to run 10 installations of WordPress.

Now I’m not going to get into all of the different flavours of hosting.  There are a ton of blog posts that can do that.  But WPEngine is managed hosting which means they take care of everything in relation to the hosting.

You pay more and you get fewer options to play around under the hood but what you get back is time and confidence knowing that your sites are backed up daily and can be restored with the click of a single button.

So I backed up the site and migrated it to my WPEngine hosting and re ran the GTmetrix report.

Site Hosted on WP Engine WordPress Managed Hosting

GTmetrix Performance Report on WPEngine Managed Hosting
GTmetrix Performance Report on WPEngine Managed Hosting

By simply changing my hosting I had managed to change my F to a B in the Page Speed Grade and my YSlow grade from a D to a C.

I’m quite surprised that there was such an improvement in the results simply from changing the host.

I then realised that my WPEngine account also came with a CDN or Content Delivery Network service.

A Content Delivery Network is a service that improves the performance of a website for end users by distributing the elements of each web page, such as graphics,  all around the internet so that when pages are loaded, these elements are loaded from the closest possible server to the computer requesting the page,  to give it the best possible load time.

For a more detailed look at how a CDN works check out https://www.nczonline.net/blog/2011/11/29/how-content-delivery-networks-cdns-work/ 

So I simply ticked the box that said activate CDN and then ran the test again.

Site Hosted on WP Engine WordPress Managed Hosting with CDN activated

GTmetrix Performance Report on WPEngine Hosting with CDN
GTmetrix Performance Report on WPEngine Hosting with CDN

 

So simply activating the Content Delivery Network wa able to improve my YSlow grade from a C to a B.

I quite like pretty pictures and colourful graphs so I was quite pleased to see by Yellow C change to a green B.

Interestingly I did notice that the key metric, that of page load time had actually gone up from 3.11 to 3.14 seconds.

 Conclusions

That last result where my page load times had not negligibly changed means that I have further investigation to do.

Obviously I have not yet even begun to optimise WordPress itself and there are a ton of opportunities to do so.  Just check out https://www.sparringmind.com/speed-up-wordpress/ and you can see all of the various improvement options available to me.

That being said I am blown away my the change in the ratings on both of these two-speed grading tools from simply changing my hosting and the page load times dropping from 3.5 seconds to 3.14.

I got a larger nominal speed improvement from migrating my ecommerce site to WPEngine simply because it was an image heavy site and stood to benefit most from the CDN.

I do recommend WPEngine as a hosting platform for mission critical sites.  The simple 1 click backup and restore functionality is awesome and lets me sleep well at night.

I know there are going to be technical types who will say I can get X% more for y% less with other hosting but the reality is that they will invest a lot more time managing the hosting rather than doing that which makes you money.

And frankly I’d rather not spend my time learning how to optimise my hosting.  I’d rather leave it to the experts.

If you are interested in fast, reliable managed hosting then I’d recommend checking out WPEngine.com.  I currently host two sites there and am migrating a third across.  Note if you click on my links to WPEngine.com they are affiliate links so I will earn  some funds to offset my hosting costs.

Image Credit: Stuck in Customs