The Speed Study Goal

My goal with conducting these Speed Studies is to find out which strategies are the best at improving our site speed.

I’ll implement each strategy using the following approach:

  1. Setup the strategy on all 8 of our live test sites
  2. Then for the following 3 weeks, gather the load times from our Desktop Speed Test using GTmetrix. Each week we will test from a different location, starting in Dallas, then London and finishing off in Sydney.
  3. Next measure the impact of each strategy by comparing the average speed before and after
  4. Ultimately decide whether the strategy works?

Speed Study #8: No Optimizations

With 2017 now up and running, I thought what better time to turn off all the optimizations and reset our baseline. This way we have a recent speed to compare against for all the upcoming Speed Improvement Tests that will follow throughout 2017.

To perform this study, I will deactivate all Image Optimization & Caching plugins, as well as reinstate the original host DNS settings (in Speed Studies 5 to 7, the CloudFlare DNS settings were used).

All Setup

I have now followed this process on all 8 of our Live Test Sites.

Next up is 3 weeks of testing – I am curious to see how the 2017 speeds without optimizations will compare to those recorded in 2016?


The Results – 29th January 2017

After 3 weeks of testing, lets take a look at how our baseline No Optimization setup performed and see how 2017 compares to the 2016 results.

No Optimization Speed Study - Results Table


  • So how did our No Optimization baseline in 2017 compare to the 2016 results? Well, actually quite well when we look at the all important loading time. In 2016, we averaged 3.54s across our 8 hosts, while 2017 saw that improve to 3.00s.
  • Interestingly, when we dig into the regions, Dallas & Sydney both improved by over 20%, while London was slightly slower in 2017.
  • The secondary results of Page Size & Google / Yahoo scores were all worse in 2017. It just goes to show that these indicators don’t always lead to better speed.

Individual Host Performance

Let’s now take a look at how our individual hosts performed:

No Optimization Speed Study - Individual Host Performance

Major Observations

  • The results are mostly positive when it comes to our individual hosts:
    1. For 7 out of 8 hosts, we saw an improvement in speed from 2016 to 2017, ranging from 9% to 28%. The biggest improver from a ranking perspective was SiteGround, climbing from 5th in 2016, all the way up to #1 in 2017.
    2. A2 Hosting was the only host to be negatively impacted, slowing by 21%. This dropped A2 from 2nd in 2016 to 8th in 2017.
  • My overall observation would be that our hosts are improving across the board, which is great to see!!

What’s Next?

With our 2017 baseline now setup, let’s dive into our 1st speed strategy, image optimization.

Speed Study #9 will focus on finding out what speed improvement is possible with Imagify?

Speed Study #9: Imagify