Google Page Speed can be a helpful tool for publishers and developers looking to speed their websites up. The Firefox add-on can identify bottlenecks that are keeping pages from loading as quickly as they should.

Unfortunately, some of the recommendations Page Speed makes aren't always easy to implement. So Google is trying to change that as part of its Make the Web Faster initiative.

Yesterday, it released mod_pagespeed, a module for the world's most popular web server, Apache. To start, mod_pagespeed implements 15 "on-the-fly optimizations that address various aspects of web performance, including optimizing caching, minimizing client-server round trips and minimizing payload size." These include optimizations for serving up JavaScript, HTML and CSS content more efficiently, image recompression and changing TTL settings for cached images.

According to Google, the performance benefits of mod_pagespeed can be significant. "We’ve seen mod_pagespeed reduce page load times by up to 50% (an average across a rough sample of sites we tried) -- in other words, essentially speeding up websites by about 2x, and sometimes even faster," Google product manager Richard Rabbat wrote on the Google Webmaster Central Blog.

mod_pagespeed requires the latest version of Apache (2.2) and Google has no plans to support earlier versions. mod_pagespeed is open source, so it's likely that it will evolve and be improved upon over time.

Unfortunately, a lot of publishers use shared hosting environments, or don't have the knowledge and resources to maximize their web server's configuration. Knowing that, Google is partnering with GoDaddy, which hosts millions of websites, and Cotendo, a CDN provider to make mod_pagespeed available to their clients.

Obviously, mod_pagespeed is an appealing tool. And it's well worth a look. But for publishers who do any sort of volume, it's worth remembering that tools like mod_pagespeed can only do so much. Maximizing a website's performance requires more than some basic web server optimizations; everything from the application to the database should be evaluated when looking for gains.

Patricio Robles

Published 4 November, 2010 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (5)


Robert Dicks

I wonder if Google are putting more emphasis on page speed than they make out. We are told its a very small factor in its ranking algorithms but with the release of this mod and the appearance of page load times in WebMaster Tools it makes you wonder.

over 7 years ago


Horst Joepen, CEO Searchmetrics

Has anyone ever thought about the additional bandwidth Google is using with their new Google Instant feature (several miliseconds displayed SERPS pages that appear while you type your search phrase)? Has a fine irony to me that Google is helping us to free up bandwidth so that they can use it for another purpose.

over 7 years ago


Deri Jones, CEO at SciVisum Ltd

Some folks may also wonder why Google has released a speed-up tool for Apache but not for Microsoft's IIS web server.... is that politically or technically motivated :<) **

We are already seeing clients try this tool out - it doesn't do all that much on the speed front; if people have not done the obvious stuff, it can help greatly though - if anyone wants more details drop me a line.

It's vital that folks have some kind of website monitoring in place when they try such tools out, so they can have hard facts as to:

* what has changed (some pages can become worse)

* have any complex transactional pages been broken in the process.

It does also contain some features that whilst being 'logical to speed up 1 users experience', have wider implications for other users, and for web site operators.

Like pre-loading pages while the user is reading the current page - could that mess up analytics tracking, if not done carefully... It also contributes to 'wasted bandwidth' - as some of those preloaded pages may never be wanted by the user...they'll have been downloaded in vain.

** I guess MS may already be already working on an IIS plug to do the same... copying the exact features that Google have made pubic.

over 7 years ago


Chris Jones, Digital Delivery Manager at Oxfam

What do people work to as an acceptable page load speed? I've heard quoted a 2009 Forrester Report which essentially says "Perceived page load times should be no more than two seconds" but I was wondering if this is still the case. I'm sure I've seen a graph which predicted that the page load speed limit would be around 1 sec in 2011...

over 7 years ago


Hosted Exchange

Thanks for the information..I was not aware of all this..i had never thought about it so deeply..I am glad I visited here and gathered a huge knowledge..Just wondering to know how the all process executed..I always wonder to know about it..

over 7 years ago

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