Can mod_pagespeed Improve Page Load Speed?

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Always on the lookout for ways to improve the loading speed of WordPress blogs, I recently decided to install the Google PageSpeed Module on three separate WordPress websites.

Review of Google PageSpeed Mod and WordPress Server InstallationIn order to see whether mod_pagespeed would help improve page speed, I used three different web page speed checking sites for my tests, WebPagetest, PageSpeed Insights and GTMetrix.

From experience, I’ve learned that individual web page testing and scoring websites are not always consistent. That said, I find that running each of the three testing services listed above, one after the other, returns the most consistent results.

No Pingdom testing?
I’ve found Pingdom Website Speed Testing very
helpful for comparing speed difference between
locations or servers, though comparatively less
useful for before-and-after web page performance
testing. Ergo no pingdom testing today.

I ran my tests against three websites, each quite active bandwidth usage wise, and each hosted on a similarly built cPanel Virtual Private Server, hosted at TVC.Net.

My primary reference for installation was the mod_pagespeed module for CPanel WHM tutorial. The installation itself was fairly seamless, with no downtime or reboot required.

And below are the before and after summaries for the three websites I tested.

WordPress Blog Test 1 Results. Click the images to enlarge each comparison test.

WordPress mod_pagespeed Installation Test 1

WordPress Blog Test 2 Results:

WordPress mod_pagespeed Installation Test 2

WordPress Blog Test 3 Results:

WordPress mod_pagespeed Installation Test 3

Just some notes about the above mod_pagespeed test results.

I did not review the plugins installed, nor make changes to sites prior to installing mod_pagespeed. I’m fairly certain we can further improve page loading by removing redundant plugins and adding others to help improve caching and page loading results.

All in all, I found the Google PageSpeed Mod installation and review fairly satisfying, and encourage you to try this setup on your server and test there as well. Enjoy!

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12 Responses

  1. Hi Jim,
    I’ve set up mod_pagespeed quite a while for my server where I do run some WordPress applications. I’ve made more or less the same experiences like you. I was rather impressed, how you can increase pageload by a simple Apache module without changing anything in WordPress itself.

    Since I am into Page speed quite a while, I am really bothered by all these overloaded themes and plugins, which slow me down. But, somehow this is where the WordPress cosmos is heading to and it has its own advantages as well.

    Especially, when it comes to clients, who know, how to set up a WordPress themes and who know “but there is a plugin, I think, I will be able to do it with this one”… And suddenly you come from a Page Speed < 1 s to gigantic loading times. Yes, I know, there is a plugin against that… But there might be reasons, why you can't use this plugin, since it destroys the pages functionality.

    So I think , we should consider more and more possibilities, which speed up our WordPress applications on the server level. What do you think?

    The next thing I am considering is HHVM. Has anyone already experience with HHVM and WordPress?

  2. Just like to add a caveat.
    The aggressive caching provided by Google mod_pagespeed is a blessing and a curse. Sure, you get great caching as a benefit. Though you may find some content updates will not “un-cache” as quickly as expected.

    For developers especially, the aggressive caching while updating stylesheets and the like can be a somewhat irritating experience. ♥

  3. @Jim
    I totally agree. If I have to undertake quick changes on my stylesheets on the server, I usually also open the console of the server and use
    touch /var/cache/mod_pagespeed/cache.flush

    This flushes the cache of the module.

  4. Mod_pagespeed may be a factor to speedup your website. But it is the theme that make the difference. A poorly written WordPress theme can destroy all your efforts. Right now my WordPress themes are able to score 99/100 with all the plugins and ads, Can you believe that?

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