I’ve been speeding up my website for over two years now. It’s been a journey, and as with all journeys, along the way I’ve met many people, hung out on numerous forums and learned new techniques and methods at every turn. And I continue to learn every day.
One of the things that I learned, was how much effect your web hosting can have on your speed but also the WordPress Theme you are using too. They can both effect your overall speed in tests like PageSpeed Insights and GTmetrix.
So how can we test the affects of hosting and theme?
Testing Your Website
A simple quick way to test your theme and hosting is to create a very simple webpage. One with only the very bare minimum of data on it. What should be on this page?
Well, firstly the Header section of my website is designed to load on every single page on my website. So I need to include that. Same as the Footer section. Both of those elements are controlled by my Theme. The content of the actual page, well I want that to be as small as possible as I don’t want to test how fast the content loads, I just want to test the Header, Footer, Theme, Hosting speed.
So I created a new page called simply, test. You can set the URL to be /test, which makes it easy to remember and type.
In the Title Block, I put simply “Wedding Photographer” it really doesn’t matter what you put, but you only want one or two words. This test ins’t about the content, it’s about the other elements surrounding it. Testing a bare minimum of content means the speed results are showing you the speed of the Header, Footer, Theme and Host, nothing else.
I then inserted 2x or 3x 500px spacer blocks. The reason for adding these, is without them, the footer would appear on the page – above the fold. It would therefore influence the speed results, as it would be visually loading. Whereas in reality, the footer of my pages never loads above the fold, as there will always be content first, the footer will always only be visible below the fold. So by adding blank space, I’ve excluded it from having any influence on the results.
This is what my test page now looks like on desktop and mobile.
IMPORTANT – The footer is not visible. It’s below the fold. This is because it won’t be visible on any of our webpages when they load, it will always be below the fold, so we don’t want to test it above the fold, as no page on your site will load that way.
NB: Make sure you mark this page as No Index in Rankmath or Yoast, whichever you are using. As you don’t want Google indexing this page on your website.
Test Your Test Page
Run your test page through GTmetrix and PageSpeed Insights and see what the results are.
I also ran this website through the test, to see the results. Good to see that the theme is not having any effect on my speeds, nor is the server.
This is the fastest your website can run. Because this is running your website speed test, without any content (apart from two words) affecting the speed results. You’ve removed all of the content issues – this is just pure testing. A clean test of your site.
Photographers, especially, often think it’s their images that are causing their website to be slow. Well, if you’re getting slow results doing a blank test page, then you probably have hosting issues and potentially theme issues too, or issues with your header and footer.
Most theme builders are bloated with excess code sadly. In the past nobody cared, because people only worried about making it easy to design a website. Nowadays though, Google is paying more attention to UX (user experience) and speed and in May 2021 is rolling out a big update that will start to add website speed to the ranking factors of sites in the google results. Personally, I don’t want to be affected by those new rules – so I fixed my site before they get introduced.
All the errors and suggestions PSI and GTM are making clearly refer to elements that will be loading on every page of your website. So fix them….
Want to know what they are and how to fix them – sign up for my Website Speed Course and I’ll teach you everything you need to know to be able to make your website run faster.